Shattering insurtech's glass ceiling

CEO on the power of personal branding

Shattering insurtech's glass ceiling

Insurance News


For Margeaux Giles (pictured), her story isn’t just about breaking through the glass ceiling – it’s a masterclass in how to embrace womanhood in a male-dominated sector. As the CEO of Irys – and a speaker at IB’s upcoming Women in Insurance Summit – she said that from the very beginning of her career the male-female ratio was way off.

“Early in my career, it was apparent that there weren’t a lot of [women],” she told IB.

And if anyone should know the importance of championing fellow women – it’s Giles. A leader in the insurtech space, with awards including Insurtech Woman CEO of the Year, and Inspiring FinTech Female in 2023, Giles is also a regular contributor and founding member of a half a dozen women in insurance groups

In combatting the lack of diversity, Giles’ challenge was two-fold: not only did she have to establish her authority in spaces traditionally dominated by men, but she also had to navigate the minefield of preconceptions about women in leadership roles. Her strategy? A blend of subtlety, ambiguity and a passion for female empowerment.

“Even if I was a man, as a risk advisor, and later a technology provider, I’m coming into someone else’s turf and telling them how to do the job better - which already puts you at odds. Going in as a woman, I think a lot of times it was a little disarming - but I had my tricks.”

One of these tricks involved signing her name M Giles – not Ms or Mrs – keeping her correspondence deliberately vague.

“Through our correspondence they would create whatever version of M.Giles they wanted in their head,” she said. “By the time we would meet or speak on the phone, I had already established myself and the relationship - which allowed me to bypass a lot of unconscious bias. Plus I secretly loved the shock in their voice when they figured out I was a woman.”

At the upcoming Women in Insurance Summit, Giles will be speaking in an exclusive fireside chat, on how to accelerate your career through authenticity. Here, all attendees will gain invaluable insights into how to transform weaknesses into superpowers, aligning career goals with unique interests.

And in this, Giles is the expert. Her leadership ethos extends beyond mere tactics; it’s rooted in a deep belief in the power of personal branding. In an age where corporate and personal identities increasingly intersect, Giles continues to stand firm on the importance of USP.

“I always advocate on my social media to lean into your personal brand,” she said. “I think people get this idea of an influencer and it’s all big sunglasses and stupid clothes - but that’s just the societal version. The most important thing a leader can have is influence. It can shape someone’s work day – how they feel about their job or how proud they are of the work they do. You need a personal brand that extends outside of your corporate identity.”

By this Giles means that a lot of times, you’ll see organizations trying to merge separate identities to become one. And while that’s a nice idea, oftentimes this means both brands lose their uniqueness and some of their overall influence.

“You rent your title – your brand is not the title of your job,” said Giles. “Those two things need to be separate - because you’ll move on from this title, maybe even move on from this company - but establishing your brand and being authentic about it is incredibly helpful, for women in particular.”

Instead, it’s about influence, Giles argued, not just the kind you can buy, but the kind that shapes perceptions, guides interactions, and fosters trust.

“I will always advocate for women in particular to have that authentic identity and that brand outside of their job,” she said. “Even though we’re all racing up the corporate ladder, [this is still] incredibly important.”

There’s still time to register for IB’s Women in Insurance Summit, and gain exclusive insights into transforming your career – take a look at our agenda and book your place here.

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