Cathy Griffin is vice president for environmental and casualty at Brown & Riding in Los Angeles. Griffen spoke candidly to Insurance Business about her rise to the top.
“I am part of the generation that started Earth Day. It was our generation that started becoming more conscientious about the environment - what was being released into the air and the ground. All of that was taking off at that time,” she says.
Griffin has pioneered many programs for environmental exposure, and contributed to the development of mould insurance in the 2000s, when few companies were willing to cover the risk.
When she started out in insurance, it was a man's world.
“In the ‘80s, there were not that many women in the role of brokers. I got a lot of pushbacks from men. Mothers were supposed to stay at home with their children and not travel - and this job required travel,” she says.
Griffin set herself some rules to succeed.
“I just have to be like a man. First thing: never show them your emotions. Just play the game their way. Be on top and work twice as hard. Prove that you can actually do it.”
Griffin remembers how she would train a new male recruit, only to see him promoted over her. “That was definitely not fair,” she says, adding: “To this day, I still think women are looked at a little differently in this business.”
Without formal qualifications, she worked her way up from the bottom. While it is possible to reach the top in this way, Griffin advises against it: “I have been turned down for many jobs internally because I didn’t have a college education and the right degree,” she says.
Confidence is essential to success in the industry, says Griffin, who says her own confidence grew when she turned 40, after several years of marriage and her children having grown older. But she says now women have to master endurance. “You just got to stick with it. If you love what you do,” she says.