Joan Collar, Mercer Marsh Benefits Smashing the Glass Ceiling
Asia and Pacific Regional Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits
Joan Collar leads Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB), the Employee Health & Benefits business formed by the combination of the Marsh McLennan companies Mercer and Marsh. She is based in Singapore and manages the employee benefits business in Asia and Pacific region, spanning 14 countries.
Joan started her career in employee benefits over 25 years ago, with stints in insurance companies and outsourcing companies, working her way up as a sales professional to eventually becoming the General Manager, before joining MMB 14 years ago, where she now leads strategy and growth across the two regions.
Passionate, enthusiastic, outspoken and highly motivated, Joan is a strategic growth leader with a strong personal brand in the employee benefits space. She has authored numerous publications and is an accomplished speaker who participates in speaking engagements across Asia, delivering MMB’s thought leadership on key issues such as healthcare, choice benefits, insurance risk management and mental health.
As one of the very few women leading a regional business in Asia’s insurance industry, Joan is committed to bringing more women representation at this level. She started her career at MMB in Malaysia as a single mother then to a six-year-old. The company gave her the flexibility to achieve her goals and she now shares that story of the courage it took to leave her home country as a single mother with an elderly mother to Singapore to start her new regional role. Through the 14 years at MMB, she battled guilt, the death of her father, cancer and mental health strain to be the person she is today.
She is a strong believer in ensuring women have coaches, mentors and sponsors for their professional brands. To Joan, it is important to amplify the message of supporting women and building them up to take on leadership positions. She is also an ardent advocate for giving women more space to excel in both their personal and professional lives through flexible working arrangements.
Through her experience with business leaders and clients across Asia and the Pacific, Joan has come to champion the importance of mental health by being open with her vulnerabilities and failings, which has encouraged many others, not just women but men as well, to understand they are not fighting their battles completely alone. She quickly came to realize that while awareness is key to combating mental health stigmas, it’s also important that leaders destigmatize the issue by being vulnerable and authentic, challenge the insurance industry standards, and use the power of their voices and brands to bring further acceptance and coverage to the problem.
Joan cites her family (her husband, daughter and her two dogs) as her strength. She is an amateur photographer, and like many others in the pandemic became a gourmet chef (sourdoughs and the like) and a gardener to help her de-stress and recharge her batteries.