In this Gallagher women in focus profile we talk to Victoria Area Director Emma Keegan, who turned her ‘dinosaur’ boss’s views on women in insurance around so completely that he became a career ‘father figure’ and one of her most influential mentors.
An energetic, empathetic leader, Emma has the ability to recognise and foster skills in her own staff, and engenders loyalty in return. Here she talks about how a temping job turned into a career and the importance of putting yourself forward for opportunities.
Other professional roles
- Client Director (Aon)
- Branch Manager (Aon)
- Team Leader and Senior Broker (Aon)
Years in the industry
With Gallagher since
Describe yourself in 3–5 words
How did you get your start in insurance?
I did some temping work in the United Kingdom at AXA while I was back home briefly after travelling.
When I moved to Australia (Newcastle initially) I was signing up at an employment agency and while I was finishing my enrolment there they came out and advised that Zurich had just called seeking someone with insurance experience – and I was the only person on their books who did.
I started as a temp and went on to work there for three years before moving to Perth and joining Aon. The rest is history!
What attracted you to the industry?
I fell into it and then loved it. We get to talk to all kinds of people across a variety of different industries, providing insurance solutions to protect their businesses and keep their dreams alive. This is both interesting and rewarding, and no day is ever the same.
- The people I’ve met. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with some amazingly smart, charismatic individuals.
- In Perth I worked for a guy I considered a dinosaur who told me that women can’t be insurance brokers because we’re too emotional. Seven years later he trusted me more than anyone with clients and he became my surrogate Australian father (not officially, of course)! He instilled in me the value of client relationships and friendships and, as a result, I see a lot of him in me now and often wish he was still around to get feedback and ideas from.
Career path progress
I’ve always pushed for opportunities and have never been held back. Every step of the way I’ve been encouraged to chase more and have been given more opportunities to prove myself.
I’ve never thought about where I want to be next, more so just about being challenged and constantly growing and, luckily for me, opportunities have always come up at the right time.
What are some of the challenges for the industry from your point of view?
Statistics show that the younger generation are most likely to have a number of jobs in their lifetimes across a number of different industries. Our industry relies on people coming up through the ranks and brokers fostering long-standing relationships with clients, so how will we keep the younger generation engaged in the business to support this?
What do you enjoy most about working at Gallagher?
The entrepreneurial spirit, in that not every branch has to look and feel the same. There is flexibility to do what works in a particular location and we have a lot of autonomy to make decisions.
Advice for young women entering the industry
Opportunities don’t land in your lap, you have to get out there and put yourself forward. This can sometimes be daunting but you have to back yourself.
Don’t feel that as a female you have to be anybody other than yourself, because it will come across as disingenuous and authenticity is key. Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Be honest and kind but stand up for yourself when you need too.
More Gallagher women achievers
You can also read more about some of our female leaders by clicking the link below
And if you've never considered a career in insurance, perhaps now is the time? Find out about career opportunities at Gallagher, or sign up for job alerts, here.