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Top executive reveals what women need to succeed in insurance

Top executive reveals what women need to succeed in insurance | Insurance Business

Top executive reveals what women need to succeed in insurance

When it comes to advice, Maxine Goddard, head of sales, operations and planning at Zurich, and a speaker at the upcoming Women in Insurance UK event, knows what works.

She is inspiring to listen to, determined and smart - someone who got to where she is in the insurance industry over the last 20 years from an incredible mix of raw talent and lots of hard work.

Because of this, her advice to her mentees - of which she currently has 12 - is direct and very practical.

“I’ve always said to my mentees that you need to be proactive and you need to be brave and you need to be bold,” Goddard said. “Don’t sit on your laurels and complain when things don’t go your way - be that change, get involved. Don’t be a criticiser, be the person who addresses the issue and adds value.”

While her hard work and direct approach has worked, Goddard says that she has also had her own mentors who have helped her get to where she is, and her appreciation of that spurs her on.

“I’ve had people who have ‘adopted’ me if I can use that word,” she explained. “I couldn’t have got where I am today without them, without their guidance, their support, their encouragement - them leading by example and ‘saying you can do this, we’re in this together and your success is my success’.”

This may be why she gets so much fulfillment from mentoring young people in the industry now, because the executive knows how much it helped her in her early career. 

“My greatest satisfaction is when I see my mentees succeed, it’s actually not about me,” Goddard said. “Some of them do very well - I will probably work for them someday. It’s always a possibility.

“Honestly when my mentees come to me and quite often have low self-esteem, or someone’s beaten them down, they just need a pick-up, they just need a bit of encouragement, they just need a bit of a steer. When they listen and they take some of the advice, and I see the fruits of that advice, that’s my greatest achievement.”

But mentoring isn’t just a one-way street either. Goddard says that she learns a lot from her mentees.

“They inspire me to be quite honest,” she said. “I listen a lot to what they have to say, they don’t just take my advice.

“My joy is seeing them succeed, progressing from where they started from when we had the first conversation to them shining and being rising stars, future leaders and leaders in their own right.”

One of the ways Goddard has made connections and found mentees is through her role as the chair of the Zurich multicultural network, something she is extremely proud of.

“I’m the outgoing chair of the Zurich multicultural network,” she explained. “I’ve been doing it for two years, and that has been a wonderful experience.”

Being a black woman in the industry, Goddard explained, makes her experience unique to many others, and gave her determination to push hard and succeed.

“I am a black woman working in insurance,” she said. “Perhaps my experience has been a little bit different to others because of that. I’ve always been supported by mentors or sponsors, as well as my own attitude or mindset to progress - never blaming others and taking full responsibility, being resilient and determined to succeed. Not everyone has that same mindset.”

Networks and groups, like that at Zurich, have helped Goddard and a lot of others. But what if you’re part of a company that doesn’t have a women’s group or a multicultural network? Goddard says to take her advice and be proactive - start one. Or if there’s one already there, join it.

“Being in a large organisation to me it makes no difference - you can shine, you can stand up by getting involved,” she said. “Getting involved can start small, you can be a support member of a network, you can be a treasurer or communications person.

“Or you can step up and be a chair, a co-chair, a deputy chair. There’s lots of opportunities and there’s different networks, there’s multicultural networks or mental health networks or women’s networks. Get involved.”

Maxine Goddard will be sharing further insights on this topic at the Women In Insurance Summit in London on October 10. See further information or book now.