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Opening keynote speaker Mandy Hickson, a former RAF Fast-jet Pilot, started off Insurance Business UK’s 2022 ‘Women in Insurance Conference’ on a strong footing. Sharing her experiences flying multi-million-pound jets for the RAF and as the only woman pilot on her Front Line Tornado Squadron, Hickson emphasised the critical need to surround yourself with the right team in order to succeed and thrive, whatever your career path.

“As I’m talking,” she said, “I want you to reflect and think on who are your wingpeople? Those people that you know have got your back. Some of them may well be in the room with you today, but others might be colleagues – because it’s those relationships that are ones that make all the difference to us, leading us to high performance.”

Hickson’s keynote discussion set the tone for the day which was in itself a celebration of networking, effective leadership, and the creativity and diversity of experience that so many women bring to the insurance ecosystem. Panel discussions featuring some of the insurance profession’s most respected leaders – among them the likes of Lisa Bartlett, Sian Fisher, Jason Groves and Sheila Cameron – touched on a range of topics from ‘Personal brand and your leadership’ to ‘Lessons learned from a multigenerational workforce’.

This being the first WII Conference I have had the pleasure of attending in-person since joining Insurance Business, I was struck by the enthusiasm of the speakers and the audience alike, and the willingness of everybody assembled to engage with the full raft of topics on discussion. Throughout the day and into the late afternoon, it was remarkable to see just how much there was left to say – not to mention to do – when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion in insurance.

Read more: LMA CEO Sheila Cameron on the two secrets to a successful business

The power of passion was a key takeaway from the conference. To hear such talented, enthusiastic and compelling women and men discussing their experiences within the insurance sector was something of a revelation. There are so many conversations about the power of passion but it’s only when you get an opportunity to see these playing out in real-time that you can truly appreciate the deep and abiding connections that underpin so many insurance relationships.

Whether discussing the paradox of flexibility and exposure in this new working environment or how to make a positive, lasting impression in the workplace – passion stood out as the key ingredient among each of the speakers. And to see it in action really was to see the insurance profession at its finest.

Another takeaway for me was realising the sheer variety of voices that can be heard across the insurance market – when they’re given a platform to speak. The wealth of insight generated from the diversity of backgrounds, routes into the market and differing experiences of a career in insurance is extraordinary to see.

Read more: How to have the difficult conversations around diversity and inclusion

And far from limiting themselves to the broad-strokes questions around gender, age and race – these voices touched on topics including everything from neurodiversity, engaging with introverted talent and developing emotional intelligence.

Of course, hearing these insights also begs the question of who else are we not yet hearing? Who else doesn’t have a seat at the table but would be able to further educate and inform us about topics beyond our realm of experience if they did? The conference was, in essence, an invitation to think bigger and broader about DE&I and to engage with it not as a destination to reach but as a road to keep travelling.

Did you attend the Women in Insurance 2022 Conference? Please feel free to share your comments or insights below.


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