Kathleen Reardon Addresses Bermuda Chapter CPCU Designees
HAMILTON, Bermuda, October 14, 2014 – Hamilton Re CEO Kathleen Reardon was the keynote speaker at the conferment ceremony of Bermuda Chapter of the CPCU Society held at Brian O’Hara House on October 9. Designees, as well as family, friends and members of the chapter’s Leadership Council, attended Mrs. Reardon’s address which focused on three areas for designees to consider as they pursue their careers in the re/insurance industry. The text of Mrs. Reardon’s address follows here:
Hamilton Re CEO Kathleen Reardon (third from right) with members of the Leadership Council of the Bermuda Chapter of the CPCU Society.
I’m really pleased to be here and to be a part of a ceremony that acknowledges the hard work and determination you have all demonstrated in studying – successfully! – for the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters designation.
I know what it takes to get an accreditation that’s considered the best in the business. I’m an actuary by training, and even though it was a few years ago, I remember vividly what it was like to study for exams, work and try to maintain some semblance of a balanced life.
But here you are. You’ve attained an accreditation that’s recognized everywhere – something that says to the world “I’m serious about my career.”
You probably know that there are 22,000 members in 135 CPCU Society chapters in more than 40 countries.
You may also know that just under 5% of those working in the insurance industry in the U.S. have earned the right to put “CPCU” beside their name.
So, savour this moment. You’ve earned the right to feel proud of yourself.
But – there’s always a “but”, isn’t there? – don’t rest on your laurels too long.
In some ways, your hard work is just beginning.
You are the future leaders of our industry. And whether you take your place as a leader will depend on what you do during the next five to ten years.
You now have a designation that distinguishes you from the pack. Your direct reports will look up to you. Your peers will glance sideways to see what you have up your sleeve. Your managers will expect to see you join them at the executive table.
So your challenge, and your opportunity, is to figure out how you’re going to react to the new dynamics that face you in the workplace.
How will you demonstrate that you have the right stuff?
I’m going to give you what I feel is my best guidance about how to succeed. It’s up to you to decide if you think it will work for you.
My first pearl of wisdom is this:
Continue to challenge yourself, and take yourself out of your comfort zone. This is how you prove that you’re serious about your career.
Use the CPCU as a springboard to talk to your manager about career advancement.
Put up your hand when stretch assignments come along.
And ladies, I’m looking particularly at you when I say this:
Put. Up. Your. Hand.
There’s a lot of research that indicates women hold back when opportunities for stretch assignments present themselves.
Don’t give in to the temptation to do this. You have to believe that you can go head to head and toe to toe with anyone out there.
So – men AND women – Here are some ideas for stretch assignments:
Do a renewal season with another department.
Offer to work where your company has offices in another country.
Take on a business-critical project.
And don’t stop there.
If you’re in reinsurance, take it up a notch and get the ARe – Associate in Reinsurance designation.
If you’re in insurance, get the AINS – Associate in General Insurance designation.
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s hard when you have spouses, and children, and other commitments that eat up your time.
Believe me, as a wife and as a mother of two young children, I know how hard it is.
But it IS possible to find a balance that supports your career aspirations and your personal commitments.
It takes a whole lot of juggling and a whole lot of energy, but these are the years when you have the ability to do this.
If advancement is what you want, just do it.
My second pearl of wisdom is:
Be a mentor.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been mentoring young people just starting out in the industry.
I’m sure each of you has had a mentor, a teacher or a supervisor who made time to talk to you, listen to your concerns and offer advice.
I know I did.
I still do.
These wise people have made all the difference in my career.
And remember that, at times in your career, you’ll receive feedback that may be hard to take. But these are folks who have much more experience and are trying to help you fulfill your potential.
Embrace it. It may feel uncomfortable, but give it proper consideration.
And remember to thank the mentors you’ve had. Just think about how you got here. Did a good friend suggest you take these exams, did a manager? Make sure to let them know how much you appreciate their advice and counsel.
My last pearl of wisdom:
As you move forward, always look behind you. Don’t forget the other young professionals following in your footsteps.
You have an opportunity, and I would say a responsibility, to help shape the C-suite of the future.
As the CEO of Hamilton Re, there are a lot of things I look for when I’m putting together a management team.
Accreditation and experience are important.
But we work in a global, digital marketplace where data is the new currency. Our clients’ needs are increasingly complex.
In order to really understand our clients, we need to build teams that bring different skill sets and perspectives to problem solving. The result is a better solution, and an improved bottom line.
As you move into positions of influence, be aware of the race, gender, age and nationality balance of the teams you’re building.
You can call this diversity. I prefer inclusion: include voices, skills, and backgrounds that represent the local communities as well as the global market in which we’re doing business.
Yes, maintain your standards, but be vigilant about who’s on your team.
In closing, a few comments about Bermuda and the market:
There’s no doubt that we’re in an industry on the cusp of change.
With alternative capital, hedge funds, and threats like terrorism and cyber risk, it’s a brave new world.
The role of insurers and reinsurers is changing, the role of brokers is changing – there’s a lot to adapt to.
I’m thrilled to be a CEO in this environment. This is when you get to do exciting, creative things. You get to shape the future of an industry that enables success.
And you’re working in a country that’s developed an excellent model for our industry. The legislative and regulatory environment in Bermuda is world-class, and the business we write here is critical to the growth and development of the global economy.
There’s no doubt that Bermuda’s here for the long haul.
Embrace the opportunities before you: open doors, get that next designation, stretch yourself.
Welcome the chance to make a difference: share your expertise and your experience, nurture the next generation.
And, above all, enjoy the ride: through market cycles, through the highs and the lows, make sure it’s a great one.