Don't keep your ambitions to yourself

Lynn Oldfield explains why voicing your career goals can help to achieve them

Don't keep your ambitions to yourself

Insurance News

By Lucy Saddleton

Having the courage to let others in your business know that you have ambitions and goals is essential to help you climb the career ladder, according to Lynn Oldfield, President & CEO at AIG Canada.

Oldfield, who is an executive mentor for AIG globally, previously mentored a woman whose goal is to be CEO of her country’s AIG operation.

“I asked if she had told anyone about her ambition but she responded ‘no,’” said Oldfield.  “I told her: ‘well, let’s start right now. Let’s talk about the skillset and development plan that’s going to get you into that job.’” Getting your name into the minds of leaders is the first step to achieving your goal, she explained.

Oldfield began her career in commercial casualty underwriting at Royal Insurance Company before progressing to her first managerial position at AIG. Along the way she also taught at the Insurance Institute of Canada and worked on some of their committees.

“I was very fortunate that I had some strong male mentors and sponsors early on in my career,” said Oldfield, adding that she earned their trust by working extremely hard and contributing to the vigorous work required on challenging files.

“My ticket was to do a lot of the heavy lifting, so the senior leaders began to take me to client meetings and lunches because I had done much of the ground work.”

Getting a solid education was a critical part of Oldfield’s success in the industry, along with networking and working to gather as much technical knowledge as she could.

“Becoming a deep subject-matter expert made me more valuable,” she said. “It made me more employable, because confidence is everything in the early days of one’s career.”

Women are generally gifted with emotional intelligence and should use it to their advantage, according to Oldfield. “I have found that women are good at walking into a room and sizing people up quickly,” she said.

Oldfield’s advice to anyone starting out in their career: “Be bolder, go for it sooner and take more risks.”

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