At this year’s Insurance Business Australia Awards one of the most coveted prizes: Australian Broker of the Year, went to Jane Smith (pictured).
“I found out by watching it on the virtual awards,” said Smith, head of energy and power in the Pacific for global brokerage Marsh.
“I would say that it was a surprise to me because I get recognized at Marsh but it’s always a great honour to be recognized outside of Marsh, to have that external elevation.”
Smith has impressive industry experience and has worked at Marsh for nearly 30 years across numerous industry portfolios. She said she’s stayed with Marsh “because it’s always about the people.”
“Being part of a global broker for me has afforded a lot of opportunities. I had worked at a couple of other brokers that were internationals but for me Marsh was the one that presented me with the opportunities I liked, the right people and I gelled with the way the company worked.”
Smith said her career path is the result of conscious choices.
“I’ve always believed that where you are today is by the choices that are available to you.”
The choices don’t necessarily mean deciding to make a physical move interstate or overseas, she said.
“It was also about deciding whether I stay should stay in RM (risk management), do I try something different such as client retention management? Do I try PEMA (private equity mergers and acquisitions)? Do I do construction, a specific industry? When I was in Queensland previously, I was the second in charge for Queensland. So rather than leading a team and managing clients it was also understanding P&Ls and people management as well. So, it’s different choices to get where I am now.”
Smith said mentors have been important for her career and personal development.
“There have been influential people in my life and I’ve always tried to seek out mentors that are within and outside the organization and that provides different types of mentoring, not just career focused mentoring. At one stage I was mentored by a previous Pacific CEO, quite a few years ago and that was completely different to being mentored by someone outside the organization.”
These days, Smith trains and mentors the new members of her team.
“When I’ve got new staff members – and I’ve got one coming up straight after this call – I always tell them not to be afraid to take risks and to display confidence, find a great mentor, support each other and deliver as a team,” she said. “I truly believe that success is being part of a team. I like that adage, ‘The sum of the parts is more than the parts by themselves.’”
She said you should always look forward, not back.
“Be an unstoppable force, be yourself and make the future what you want it to be, follow your passion,” she advised.
One of Smith’s passions is the Japanese concept of ikigai.
“One of the things that I aspire to, it’s my purpose, which is my ikigai. It’s a reason for being. So, it translates to, ‘That which you love, that which the world needs, that which you can be paid for and that which you are good at.’ So, for me, I’ve been most successful when my skills and interests have coincided with what my peers and my clients need.”
Smith said she celebrated her win with a nice family dinner out.
“There’s been a lot of LinkedIn posts, a lot of communication and I know my team has been very generous and plans to celebrate with me,” she said.
In October, Marsh was appointed the risk management partner (RMP) for Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink project. The scheme is one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects and Smith leads Marsh’s Australia based team.
The scheme has the backing of the Australian and Northern Territory governments and took another step forward in September when Indonesia’s government approved a subsea permit through Indonesian waters. A 750km subsea survey of the Australian section of the transmission line is also complete.
Sun Cable says its $30 billion plus AAPowerLink project will create the world’s largest solar farm and battery storage facility in the Northern Territory. The project aims to build a 4,200km undersea transmission system from Darwin, through Indonesia to Singapore.
Smith’s role in the project was too late to have anything to do with her winning the 2021 Australian Broker of the Year award. Perhaps it makes her a contender for next year’s?