Valeria Calvo has quite the CV. With more than 10 years’ experience as a commercial D&O, financial institution and marine broker and financial institution underwriter for Southern Europe and South American/Caribbean financial institutions she has done it all - and in the process has broken many boundaries.
For Valeria is not only a female at the top of the UK insurance business – she’s also a non-British native having lived most of her life in Italy.
“I arrived in London 13 years ago having been head-hunted while I was working for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets in Milan, which is where I started my career,” she said.
“Initially my role focused on Italian clients but I subsequently moved to Aon
with a broader remit for emerging markets. My background is financial institutions – banks, hedge funds and so on including for North Africa, Central Africa, Southern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Calvo is now insurance risk manager for London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).
“I came for a short business trip and I loved the people,” she said. “I thought the working environment was very different. There was more structure than I had ever seen in Italy and I thought the working force was very eclectic and diverse and I liked that.
“The difference in weather is still a factor, don’t get me wrong! You never get used to the grey sky. But I think the English people make up for it. London is so multi-cultural and varied– you can end up working on the same team as 10 other different nationalities which is something you don’t always see in other countries like Spain or Italy, probably because of the language barrier.”
Having found her home from home, Calvo is more than satisfied with her position describing every day as “different” as her job entails dealing with a number of policy types ranging from property and casualty to directors’ and officers’ to clients’ liability and more.
However, despite her positive experience she is still well aware that the insurance industry is overwhelmingly male-dominated.
“We have seen some difference in the last couple of years with the appointment of Inga Beale at Lloyd’s – that was fantastic,” she said. “But maybe we should have some dedicated percentage of the work population in the organisation – for example, for every 10 middle managers at least one should be a woman.”
Calvo strongly believes that there are lots of women interested in insurance – but that changes need to be made in the industry to allow their voices to be heard.
“I am actually part of a club called The Insurance Supper Club,” she said. “We did a dinner not too long ago, there were a lot of male CEOs and the sentiment was the same – we need to improve our diversity, attract more women and everybody seemed to be in line and OK with it.
“I think there are many women interested in the industry. We just need something to shine a light on them. Women need to have more of a voice… but it’s also an issue with the industry itself, which is still male-dominated.”
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