Female Leaders in Insurance | Elite Women

Breaking the mould

This year’s cohort of IBUK Elite Women are all exemplary professionals who have earned their sterling reputations and successes. That’s despite the challenges women encounter in the industry, such as:

  • gender bias

  • unequal pay

  • limited representation

  • lack of mentorship opportunities

“I have experience of not progressing because of my skin colour, so I’m aware of what it feels like to be discriminated against,” says one winner, Vivine Cameron, equality, diversity and inclusion manager at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

Fellow winner Donna Scully describes being discouraged from pursuing higher education because of her gender; however, the joint owner and director of Carpenters Group attributes much of her success to pursuing a degree.

“That’s why [girls] need a chance,” she says. “Give us an opportunity, and we’ll grab it with both hands.” 

Fractured beginnings

The Catholic convent schools Scully attended in inner city Dublin only offered domestic courses on how to cook and sew.

She says, “I went to school with nuns, where women were just being prepared for marriage. There was no question of me having a career or being ambitious or driven, which I was. I was kind of like a square peg in a round hole.”

After obtaining her solicitor’s certification in 1995, Scully joined Carpenters Group, where she became co-owner, transforming the company from a general law firm to a specialist personal injury business.

What marks Scully out is being unafraid to lead in times of uncertainty.

“The insurance market has been volatile this year; the cost-of-living crisis really kicked in, and securing and looking after your people was challenging,” she says. “That said, like always, we rose to the challenges, and I am looking to 2024 positively.”

Illustrating the level of her performance in 2023, Scully has been:

  • shortlisted in the Person with Purpose category of the Northern Power Women Awards

  • recognised with the Outstanding Achievement of the Year award at the Modern Claims Awards

  • presented with an Outstanding Contribution to Charity award from the Regional Business Awards

“All businesses need not only a heart but also a strong backbone, someone who has a passion both for their people and the industry they are part of,” says Carpenters CEO Donna Richards. “Being able to fight for justice and also provide a balanced collaborative approach is not an easy thing to do, but Donna Scully has the ability to bring a mix of people together and make magic happen.”

For Scully, encouraging the professional growth of women across the insurance industry is a personal priority. That’s why, over the past 12 months, she has mentored groups, including:

  • The Hive

  • The Girls’ Network

  • Insurance Breakfast Club

Cameron also recalls the constraints of gender and racial discrimination back in 1989, when she started working in London. In her first corporate job, the manager recalls seeing just two people of colour in the office.

“Outside of that, the only people that looked like us were the security guards and the women that changed the coffee machines,” she says. “We really were a minority. And when you went to work, there were very few brown or non-white people on trains or buses going into the city.”

Cameron is now an established industry leader and was awarded the 2022 NextGen Planner Education Initiative for her dedication to improving the field of financial planning.

Her role at the CII, a professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and financial planning professions, involves educating and encouraging professionals from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in insurance.

Throughout 2023, Cameron’s impactful contributions at the CII include:

  • championing six partnership agreements promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I)

  • raising awareness of DE&I through the creation of webinars, radio broadcasts and podcasts, reaching 122k global members

  • attaining a Chartered Management Institution Level 5 certification in Managing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Reflecting on the latter accomplishment, Cameron says, “This was in the midst of a very challenging year of juggling work and working with a number of DE&I networks within the profession. While my appearance speaks to my knowledge and experience in the equality, equity, diversity and inclusion space, certification from a recognised professional body gives credence to those who need to be confident in my competence and professional capability.”

As a black woman, it took 20 years for Cameron to progress from an entry-level to a junior-level position.

“If you experience discrimination, you can feel it,” she says. “If someone younger is less experienced than me, and I’m being told I didn’t get the job, but I clearly have the experience and the knowledge, then it does beg the question, although you can’t prove it empirically.” 


“At heart, I’m a learning and development person. So, my purpose in life is to see people succeed and fulfil their goals, regardless of what background they come from”
Vivine CameronChartered Insurance Institute


Finding your path

It was at American Express in 2008 that Cameron’s career took off. Advancing to an executive position in four years, she describes the experience as her first true encounter with a mentor. In addition to lending her expertise to the CII, Cameron also consults across the banking industry.

As an active member of the Inclusion at Lloyd’s panel, Cameron is recognised for providing sought-after advice on:

  • professional standards

  • code of ethics observance

  • inclusion

For Cameron, a large part of encouraging women to enter the financial sector involves visibility.

“I did a presentation on careers in insurance, and I’ll never forget a young black woman who came up to me and said, ‘Madam, I see you. How do I get into [this industry]?’ This instilled in me the importance and power of visualisation – the ability to see oneself in a role and profession.”

As a leader in legal services in the motor insurance industry, Scully is regularly called upon to contribute to publications and industry panels. Still, the proudest moment of her career remains the day she received her solicitor’s certification.

“Obviously, Carpenters and everything has been an amazing opportunity. But everything flows from [my law qualification]. I couldn’t have been an owner of Carpenters without being a solicitor.” 

Sending the ladder down

Cameron and Scully both proactively use their influence to uplift women across the insurance industry. Despite their successes, each has experienced imposter syndrome. Scully often felt her humble beginnings meant she wouldn’t excel as a leader.

Cameron describes a similar emotion in her first managerial role.

“I got a direct report and contacted [my old mentors] and said, ‘What do I do?’ You know, ‘Can you give me some coaching and some assistance?’ And I remember, one of them said to me, ‘How would you want to be treated? That’s how you become a leader,’” says Cameron.

For Scully, effective leadership means creating opportunities for mentorship and professional growth.

She says, “Sending the ladder down [is important]. We’ve really worked hard at Carpenters on apprenticeships. We have academies across the business where people can come in at entry level and then work their way up. It gives people a chance and gives them a bit of hope.”

At the CII, Cameron’s department has made headcount strategies a part of their diversity initiative. In collaborating with universities and colleges, the equality, diversity and inclusion manager and her team meet young women and other minorities that may not have otherwise had exposure to a career in insurance.

Creating pathways for women in insurance also means moving away from traditional structures.

“All those kinds of old-fashioned things that we’ve had in insurance for years, we don’t have,” says Scully. “If you create a culture where diversity, inclusion, flexibility, training and apprenticeships are important, that attracts a lot of women.” 


“I’m not going to let you make me feel inadequate or uncomfortable. I’m just going to keep working and chipping away – I’m quite resilient”

Donna ScullyCarpenters Group



Meet the judges



Female Leaders in Insurance | Elite Women

  • Adabel Asinugo
    Chief Risk Officer
  • Alison Unwin
    Head of Quality and Strategic Projects, Home Claims Services
  • Amanda Blanc
    Group Chief Executive Officer
  • Amanda Scott
    Managing Director and Global Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Leader
  • Barbara Schonhofer
    Founding Partner
  • Bhavisha Tailor
    Subject Matter Expert
    AXA Insurance
  • Brittany Boykin
    In-House Counsel and Head of Claims and Underwriting
    Brit Insurance
  • Caroline Hanan
    Chief Marketing Officer
  • Charlotte West
    Account Executive
  • Chelsey Sprong
    Head of Social Impact
  • Chika Austin
    Senior Associate Cyber Underwriter
    Travelers Europe
  • Claire Burrell
    Chief Operating Officer
    The Ardonagh Group
  • Claire McDonald
    Executive Board Member and Chief Underwriting Officer, HDI Global SE
    Chair, Insurance Women’s Inclusivity Network
  • Claire Weston
    Chief Executive Officer
    Great Lakes Insurance UK
  • Claudia Barber
    Corporate Responsibility Advisor
    AXA UK
  • Cynthia Dugan
    Head of Sales and Client Management – Global Financial Solutions
  • Dawn Bonner
    Indirect Procurement Manager
    QBE Europe
  • Eleanor Moore
    Director of Private Clients
    Broadway Insurance Brokers
  • Emily Fraser
    Chief Technical Underwriting Officer, UK and International
  • Gemma Jackson
    UK&I Head of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Jacinda Da Rosa
    Regional Operations Manager, UK, Nordics and AQS Europe
    Allianz Commercial
  • Jacqueline Sinclair
    Compliance Director
  • Jacqueline Wiffen
    UK Chief Underwriting Officer, Insurance
    Convex Insurance
  • Jaime Swindle
    Chief Executive Officer
    Geo Underwriting
  • Janthana Kaenprakhamroy
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Joanna Browning
    Senior Managing Director – People Experience
    Markel International
  • Julia Graham
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Kaj Pankhania
    Manager, DA Strategy
    Chair, MGAA Next Gen
  • Karen Ko
    AFIC Insurance Leader
  • Katherine Bryant
    Chief Executive Officer
    The Progress Partnership
  • Katherine Nellums
    Marketing Director
  • Kirat Kaur Nandra
    Credit Control Manager
  • Laura Hancock
    Managing Director
    Yutree Insurance
  • Lisa Bartlett
    President, UK and Ireland
    Crawford & Company
  • Lyn Comerford
    Director, Strategic Projects and Operations
    Markel International
  • Mandy Hunt
    Chairperson –Underwriting Community Board
    Chartered Insurance Institute
  • Marcella McLean
    Chief Human Resources Officer
    Arch Insurance International
  • Marcia McFarlane
    Risk Management Technology Stable Leader
  • Marie-Helene Tyack
    Global Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging Business Partner
    Allianz Commercial
  • Maxine Goddard
    Senior Vice President, Strategic Distribution and Development
    Sompo International
  • Melanie O’Neill
    Chief Underwriting Officer – Commercial
    Liberty Specialty Markets
  • Melissa Collett
    Chief Executive Officer
    Insurtech UK
  • Nikki Hinch
    Inclusion Consultant
    Ageas UK
  • Nish Ashton
    Chair of the Ethnicity Network Group (ENG)
    Tokio Marine Kiln
  • Pravina Ladva
    Group Chief Digital and Technology Officer
    Swiss Re
  • Reha Begum
    Product Manager
    Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
  • Sally Blake
    UK Diversity and Inclusion Manager
    Zurich Insurance
  • Sara Ager
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Sharon Crofts
    Senior Director of Reinsurance and Business Accounting
    Markel International
  • Sonia Latore
    Senior Operational Excellence Consultant
    Ageas UK
  • Sue Langley
    Non-Executive Chair, UK
  • Sunita Gaddu
    Partnerships Manager
  • Suzi Rackley
    Client Director
    Aston Lark Group
  • Victoria Gallimore
    Group People and Culture Director
    The Clear Group


Insurance Business UK invited insurance professionals from across the region to nominate exceptional female leaders for the sixth Elite Women list. Nominators were asked to provide details of their nominee’s achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months, including specific examples of their professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry.

To select the winners, the IBUK team relied on the help of an independent and esteemed panel of judges that included Ajay Mistry of iCAN, Christopher Croft of the London & International Insurance Brokers’ Association, Claire McDonald of the Insurance Women’s Inclusivity Network, Maxine Goddard of Sompo International, Michael Keating of the Managing General Agents’ Association and Vivine Cameron of the Chartered Insurance Institute.

The judges and the IBUK team reviewed all nominations, examining how each individual had made a meaningful contribution to the industry, to whittle down the list to the final 56 Elite Women. To avoid conflicts of interest, self-voting and voting for relatives were prohibited.

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