This article was provided by AXA XL.
The transition to sustainable fuel sources and the drive to net zero presents huge challenges and opportunities for the energy industry and the insurance industry that helps to underpin it. Gemma Boreham (pictured left), assistant underwriter energy liability, and Lulu Knott (pictured right), underwriting assistant energy liability and energy downstream at AXA XL, discuss what drew them to a career in the energy insurance market.
Gemma Boreham: My degree was in Human Geography which focuses heavily on the relationships between people and the planet. When it came to deciding what to do next, I thought insurance sounded really interesting – it’s current, it underpins so much, and it’s relevant to the world. Energy underwriting specifically appealed to me because my Human Geography background had given me some insight into sustainability topics as well as how vital energy is to everything we do as an economy and a society.
Lulu Knott: Similarly, I did a degree in Human Geography – with a minor in Sustainability. I learnt how important Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) is to businesses and what an important role environmentally friendly alternatives, like renewable energy, are going to play now -and in the future- and I was attracted to the idea of energy underwriting to be able to play a role in enabling the transition.
Gemma Boreham: Energy companies are moving at different paces and it's unrealistic to think that the transition will happen overnight. It’s a challenging time for the industry, but with change comes opportunity.
Lulu Knott: Energy companies are coming up with new ideas and innovations all the time – so we are all learning along the way. We need to adapt the way we underwrite and think about the challenges and opportunities our clients have now and will have in the future.
Gemma Boreham: Considering what our clients are doing with regards to ESG is now a core part of the underwriter’s role. But one thing we need to be mindful of is the risk of greenwashing. We need to feel confident that our clients’ ESG claims are robust.
Gemma Boreham: Having role models to aspire to has been really important in my career so far. Nicola Harris (Head of Energy UK & Lloyd’s at AXA XL) is a very visible role model for me and my colleagues - she’s proof that you can get to where you want to be. In some ways this works on an almost sub-conscious level – you sometimes need to be able to see something to believe that you can do it too. Nicola is a great proponent of equal opportunities for all and she ensures that we all have a voice.
Lulu Knott: My manager, Louise Savage (Operations Manager at AXA XL) is very supportive and spurs us all on to be ambitious. Both Nicola and Louise are very positive role models and are hugely respected. Although the insurance and energy sectors have been heavily male-dominated in the past that’s definitely changing and it feels like a really positive industry in which to build a career, whatever your background.
Gemma Boreham: I am part of a female mentoring scheme, facilitated by AXA XL’s LEAD (Leading, Empowering & Advancing Diversity) business resource group. I’ve found it really useful to talk to my mentor about various topics and I’d really recommend having a mentor for anyone looking to get into insurance for their career.
Discover more about how AXA XL is supporting the global energy value chain here