This article was produced in partnership with Marsh.
Gia Snape, of Insurance Business, sat down with three female trailblazers from Marsh about what motivates them in their careers, and what it takes for women to succeed in the insurance world.
Insurance Business America (IBA) recently named three Marsh colleagues to its 2022 Elite Women list. Overall, the list includes 85 winners who are some of the industry’s most prominent, trailblazing female professionals. The honorees from Marsh are Catherine Brown, Tamara Franklin, and Janelle Griffith.
Read more: View the full list of IBA’s 2022 Elite Women here.
Apart from belonging to the same company, the Marsh winners all revealed a common thread in their journeys: though they didn’t necessarily choose insurance, they are now thriving and making their mark amid its challenges.
Janelle Griffith (pictured top) said, like many in the industry, she didn’t dream of a career in insurance. She serves as the North American logistics leader for Marsh Specialty, with a primary focus on the logistics and cargo segments. But her first calling was in law.
“What drew me to the [legal] profession in theory is what drew me to risk and insurance in practice: the ability to help and add value,” Griffith shared with Insurance Business. “I enjoy being client facing, building relationships, analyzing risk, crafting innovative solutions, and helping clients protect their interests.”
Catherine Brown (pictured immediately above), a senior vice president and client executive, shares a similar background in that she initially set out to be a court reporter. Today she manages client relationships in Marsh’s corporate and risk management segments – a role she calls a rewarding and thrilling chapter of her 37-year career.Tamara Franklin (pictured immediately above), Marsh’s chief digital, data and analytics officer, said that throughout multiple career shifts, she has found herself in industries experiencing significant disruption. Franklin has more than 25 years’ experience leading digital transformations and defining strategies for large multinational organizations. She is now steering Marsh amid digital disruptions in the industry.
“I am energized by these situations and that, while such times can certainly be challenging, they also provided wonderful opportunities for personal and professional growth,” Franklin said.
What does it take for women to succeed in insurance? For Franklin, a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity helps lead to success, regardless of gender.
Integrity and passion, meanwhile, are key for Brown. “Being passionate motivates us to do our jobs well, inspires us to excel, leads us to manage the human aspects, and drives us to be inquisitive and enterprising as we develop solutions and deliver excellence in service to clients,” she explained.
Griffith shared one takeaway from her years of experience - excellence should not be the only goal: “Developing communication, connection, and emotional intelligence are far better than striving for unattainable perfection,” she said.
Franklin said that intentional diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts over the last several decades in the insurance space have helped women and historically underrepresented groups enjoy significantly better career opportunities, but there is still meaningful progress to achieve.
“I would encourage the women in this industry to serve as purposeful allies to ethnic minorities who have yet to see the same levels of opportunity and advancement,” Franklin told Insurance Business. “As an industry we can and should do better.”
Brown likewise urged other insurance leaders to take strong, sustained actions to support women and people of color as they pursue senior leadership roles.
“To move the needle, accelerate innovation, grow the bottom-line and stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing world, insurance leaders must not overlook the power of diversity and inclusiveness in thinking, experiences, ideas, backgrounds, and abilities,” said Brown.
The Marsh winners also had some advice for their fellow women in insurance, gleaned from years of hard work and experience in the field. “Be bold and courageous,” Brown said. “Be willing to take some career risks, go the extra mile and get involved in special projects and assignments that give you exposure.”
Having self-assurance and being authentic are crucial in their line of work, Griffith shared. “We all develop instincts through life, and these should never be discounted,” she said. “Even after careful analysis, trusting my gut continues to lead me down the right path.”
High-achieving women often put themselves last in terms of their own mental and physical wellbeing, Franklin observed.
“We view ourselves as being selfish when taking that midday walk or booking that weekend spa visit,” she explained. “I want to remind my female colleagues of the importance of self-care in allowing us to show up as our best selves for our families, our colleagues, and our clients. This is not selfish, it is survival, and key to maintaining resilience.”