International Women’s Day event round up

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, Kennedys hosted an inspirational breakfast event in London as part of our Women in Insurance series. Superbly chaired by partner Suzanne Liversidge, we were thrilled to welcome leading insurance figure, Judith Buttigieg (CEO of Aviva International Insurance) and Laura Thomson (Founder of Phenomenal Training), in addition to hearing from Karim Derrick, Kennedys’ Head of Research and Development.

In an interactive, thought-provoking and humorous session, our speakers provided valuable insight into the impact technology continues to have on our lives and careers and how, as humans, we need to embrace diversity and our unique qualities to remain relevant in an increasingly automated world.

The rapid rise of InsurTech

Karim opened the event by providing an overview of InsurTech, a rapidly growing phenomenon which in 2017 had an impressive US$500 million worth of investment (up from US$19 million in 2016). 

Driven by Big Data and Cognitive Computing, Karim talked about the birth of “the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” InsurTech is now developing on several different fronts including through the use of social media, chatbots, the Internet of Things and Peer to Peer models. The potential for Blockchain to revolutionise insurance also remains huge.

Karim explained that the infrastructure and environment to support InsurTech is just as important as the technology itself and there is now more appetite than ever to transform the way insurance business is done.
Maximise your human potential

Laura Thomson, of Phenomenal Training then took the stand and her opening message was clear - we need to start thinking differently about work and fast!

With a background in human psychology and a love of technology, Laura talked about her belief that the robots will only “take over” if us humans don’t evolve and embrace change. She encouraged the audience to “nurture our intangibles” and identified three sets of human attributes which will help us keep one step ahead of technology and thrive in our chosen professions. Emotional intelligence, personal resilience and mental presence are useful to possess now but they are also the skills in which we should be investing to future proof our careers.

Laura went on to explain the importance of the “4C’s in our daily work and using them to empower ourselves and each other. When we are caring, creative, curious and collaborative, we are maximising our human potential; experiencing emotions, building relationships and dreaming up original ideas in ways that technology will never be able to replicate.

Laura underlined the importance of diversity for growth and success in the workplace. It makes business sense – 10% more diversity on boards increases profitability by 3.5% - that’s a fact. As life becomes more automated, being different will be your USP. Embrace it! It can give you and your organisation a competitive advantage.

Don’t become an endangered species

One of Laura’s key takeaway messages was to be less panda and “be more fox!” The ability to adapt quickly to different environments and to be flexible, dynamic, resilient and resourceful are crucial for career survival. If we don’t demonstrate these qualities, we risk becoming “a panda” – someone who may be loved and respected by their peers, but who becomes obsolete and gets left behind if they don’t evolve to the changing environment.

As somebody who is passionate about technology, Laura believes it is something to embrace rather than fear. It is up to us humans however, to take ownership of our self-development and stay relevant in a changing world.

Embrace the scary

The final part of the event involved an informal discussion with Judith Buttigieg, CEO of Aviva International Insurance and Strategy Board Partner Suzanne Liversidge. Judith talked candidly about her career, how she had overcome challenges she had faced along the way and what women need to do in order to get their voices heard.

Judith admitted to not having had a blueprint for her career, just a strong desire to add value, learn and develop.  Her early career experience had taught her what it was that motivated her, and what it was that didn’t. Here lay her first piece of advice for the audience – identify where your energy sources come from and plug into these when you need to.

Judith admitted that, not being a Millennial, new tech was an area she, and all of us, need to embrace. She reinforced Laura’s point that continuous learning, renewal of one’s skills and reinvention were key to career success.

Judith emphasised the need for women to put themselves (and each other) forward and often this involved being brave enough to “embrace the scary.” Not everything we do in our lives and careers pays off but it is vital to learn from these experiences, use them to become more resilient and then move on. Echoing Laura’s words on embracing our human attributes, Judith acknowledged that displaying vulnerability as a leader is important, otherwise we’re no different from robots. We need to be proud of who we are and not hide our true self. 

Make the difference

In response to a question about what men and women can do to improve diversity, Judith stressed the need for corporates to structure themselves in a way to get more women into senior leadership roles. She underlined the importance of good mentors and fostering a culture in which people eel supported, valued and are not “hung, drawn and quartered” for making mistakes.

Reiterating her previous point about women needing to put their head above the parapet, Judith called on us all to question any lack of female representation in our workplaces. Nobody should feel that their voice is not worth being heard. We are all role models and we can all make a difference.
Suzanne concluded by providing an excellent summery of the key messages to take away from the event.

  • It makes business sense to have more diversity at senior levels. We need to question organisations where this is not happening.
  • We should all take action! Every one of us can do something!
  • Nominate yourself and other women for opportunities. Be your own and others’ supporter.
  • Be authentic. When you are your true self, you are more successful.
  • Move barriers where they exist and don’t be scared to knock on doors. Women must be more visible. Learn from your mistakes and build resilience – if you don’t succeed the first time, prove yourself for the next opportunity.

As with previous Women in Insurance events, the turnout was excellent, as was the feedback from our guests.

We look forward to hosting our next event in October and continuing to support the diversity agenda.