Having worked in the cyber risk side of insurance for the majority of her 22-year career, Lori Bailey recalls a time when there were very few female role models within the industry.
“It was quite discouraging,” she said. Now based in Boston, MA, as the global head of cyber risk at Zurich Insurance Company, Bailey values the growing representation of women in the senior ranks.
“I feel very fortunate that there are now a number of women in leadership positions at Zurich. It’s important for women to see other females advancing because that makes it easier to imagine themselves progressing into those roles in the future,” she said.
“It isn’t lost on me that I have an obligation to bring other women along on this journey with me. I’m a big advocate for women trying to get to that next level of leadership, and it is critical to have a sponsor,” she added.
Zurich has taken tremendous steps in recent years to improve flexible work practices for both men and women, and Bailey would like to see the whole industry adopting similar practices to encourage more women to climb to the senior ranks.
“A job should be something we do, not somewhere we go,” she said. “Working in a global role makes it impossible to stick to a traditional nine to five schedule because I’m working with people all over the world. I’m often on the phone late at night or very early in the morning but I also have the flexibility to raise a family and take time out to be with my kids.”
Bailey grew up in the insurance world as her father owned a small agency so it was a natural career choice for her. She started at AIG in New York where she developed a passion for cyber insurance and worked in a variety of different areas of the business before landing at Zurich 10 years ago. She rapidly progressed to a global function, which gave her a deeper understanding of the industry and the variety of ways in which problems can be solved.
“It has been really eye-opening to work with so many people from different countries and cultures,” she said. “I discovered that there are a number of different processes and ways of doing things. It is great to see how other countries can approach challenges differently but come out with the same result in the end.”
Bailey advises women coming into insurance to be open to exploring different areas within the industry.
“It will give you a far broader skillset and open the door to so many opportunities,” she said.
Bailey oversees underwriting operations for Zurich’s affirmative cyber product as well as related lines of business with emerging cyber risk. She is also the former head of Zurich’s Women’s Innovation Network in North America which helps to support gender equity and drive professional development for women in the insurance industry.