As part of observing Women’s History Month our guest blogger Steve White, Head of Marketing & Communications Asia-Pacific, talks with Senior Account Executive Carmel Andricciola, a proud member of the Gallagher 30 Year Club and among the country's first female brokers.
The 11-strong 30 Year Club celebrates the careers and contributions of Gallagher brokers with more than 30 years of continuous service. Carmel shares her thoughts, perspectives and insights on a career spanning more than four decades.
How did you become one of the first wave of women in broking?
“I originally started out in underwriting role where I learned the trade over a nine-year period. This provided me with the knowledge and technical depth that paved the way for the later transition into a client-facing role.
"My move into broking came after being tapped on the shoulder by the director of an established broking firm. He wanted me to come over to the broking side of the fence and I thought it would balance my perspective. Ultimately, broking and underwriting share values that have held true throughout my career – the need for an eye of the detail, focus on the customer and doing everything by the book.”
Has the role of women in insurance changed?
“Women are playing a very different role in insurance than when I first set out. In those days the opportunities tended to be back office-related in areas such as office management, clerical support and general administration. Wind forward to 2019 and you have strong female leadership across all parts of a business – in our case, from chief executive through to human resources, sales leadership, IT and claims. This is great to see.”
What is the key to equality of opportunity?
“To achieve a gender-balanced workplace you have to deal with the things that challenge progress. This starts with role descriptions and the interview process – focusing on getting the right person into the right role, irrespective of gender.
"Creating workplace flexibility further supports this and rigid office hours is probably one of the key roadblocks that prevent talented people progressing within an organisation. In this respect I think Gallagher has made significant strides in recent years, but there is still more work for us to do.”
Any role models that have shaped your career?
“In my earlier career the first female underwriter I worked with (a fire risk expert) stands out for a number of reasons. Underwriting was a male-dominated sector at that time and to see a strong female figure, respected by colleagues as an expert in her own right, spurred me on and reminded me anything was possible.“Sarah Lyons, particularly since she progressed into her current chief executive role, is an inspiration: open and honest, down to earth and a visible leader in the business. It makes such a difference to have an accessible leader at a time when we are growing and evolving, and someone who will open doors to help and/or connect you.
"Emma Keegan (Area Director, Victoria) is also a great leader. I can talk to her about anything, ask her advice and use her as a sounding board to test new thinking – being a technical expert and a true people person is one of the hallmarks of the Gallagher culture.
“Outside of the workplace, there are also a number of forums to connect with other women in insurance including conferences and seminars to share the latest thinking. These are vital channels for the next generation of insurance professionals so it’s good to see these meetings well attended and actively supported.
Advice for women entering the insurance industry?
- Insurance is up there with the ‘greats’ – great profession, great industry and a great opportunity to create your own path.
- Be curious, explore the disciplines and look for opportunities to gain experience across the industry.
- Learn from co-workers, slot into the team and invest time to dig into the detail.
Whether you are an industry veteran or looking for a change of path, Gallagher could be the right place for you.