Change is the only constant, and, in a highly dynamic industry like insurance, it’s the best way to stay competitive. It is also just plain human nature to be impacted and shaped by different experiences and interactions. Leaders who are five, 10, or 20 years into an insurance career aren’t the same people they were at the start of their professional lives – so why should their brand stay the same?
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“You have to allow your brand to evolve so you can continue to be forward-looking,” shared Anna Tan (pictured), head of excess casualty at Navigators, a brand of The Hartford.
“It’s a lifetime journey of learning. Every so often, you discover something new about yourself that you didn’t know until you were put in challenging situations,” Tan told Insurance Business. Tan is set to join a panel of speakers on personal branding at the Women in Insurance Summit in San Francisco, as the much-awaited conference returns to the in-person format in October.
“I guess you can call me a thoughtful decision-maker,” Tan pondered when asked how she would brand herself. “When I’m faced with challenges, I tend to embrace them as opportunities to reflect, to accumulate more knowledge, and think more deeply and broadly.”
Accumulated knowledge has helped Tan build her skills over her career, helping her be confident and decisive when the situation calls for it. But failure is also part of that process. “There are times when I did not rise to the occasion, and you find out so much more about yourself then. But I still had to persevere in difficult situations,” Tan admitted.
For Tan, this risk-taking quality has enabled her to shine as an underwriter. Before joining Navigators, she spent several years in various underwriting roles in casualty lines. “Making decisions that are not always so clear cut and being held accountable is what I do every day. It’s ultimately about making sound decisions under high pressure. I have to consider all vantage points,” she explained.
Tan leads a team of professionals across the US providing solutions to the excess market. The role requires her to think and act more strategically. Though she savors the challenge and loves working with other people who are creative and passionate about the business, she admits her usual confidence sometimes falters.
“I was promoted to a job that feels bigger than what a person can do. I have obligations outside of insurance too. I’m a working mom, but I don’t want to be an absentee mom. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get through the work,” confessed Tan. “So yes, self-doubt creeps in, including thoughts about my readiness because the job demands a completely different set of skills.”
Years of hard work and dedication have firmly established Tan in the insurance field, but the quest for self-discovery never stops. “I think the brand that I am aspiring to be is one I’m still earning, and that’s to be more inspirational,” she shared.
Tan also acknowledges the work that women before her have put into the insurance industry. Years of efforts to ingrain diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) into companies’ cultures have borne fruit, with more women like Tan occupying leadership roles. But there’s still some way for DE&I to go.
“I feel very grateful for the women who have paved the way for us to have a seat at the table,” Tan said. “We have many women with compelling brands, yet unfortunately, some women still get passed over. That’s why it’s so important for career-driven individuals to be really specific about what they want to be known for.”
“Let personal brand embolden you” is Tan’s advice for fellow insurance leaders – but not at the expense of your individuality and values. ”It’s just too exhausting to keep up an image if you cannot live it,” Tan said.
“We should allow our brand to evolve by continuing to do better. It’s a journey to author your brand.”
Join Tan and other female insurance leaders as they tackle the industry’s biggest challenges and share strategies on branding, team collaboration, problem-solving and more. The Women in Insurance summit in San Francisco takes place on October 4 at the JW Marriott Union Square.
For more on the summit and how to register, visit sanfrancisco.ibwomenininsurance.com.