Our 2023 Women In Insurance Finalists: Their Advice

Our 2023 Women In Insurance Finalists: Their Advice 2560 1778 Apollo Group

Our Four 2023 Women in Insurance Finalists share key milestones in their career, the twists and turns, and of course some key takeaways as they navigate the world of work!

Q: What advice could help other women navigating their career? Advice you wish you could tell your younger self, or something you live by now…

Amy Bumstead

I guess I would say this given my role, but COMMUNICATE! If you think you have made an error, communicate (we are only human after all). If you don’t know how to do something, communicate. If you have a brilliant idea, communicate. This is particularly important with your manager. Building an open and transparent relationship with my manager has probably had the most positive impact on my time at Apollo and where I am today.

Know your values, be clear on them, and stick to them. You don’t need to know where your career is going (the fun is in not knowing) but it’s helpful to know what’s important to you and your non-negotiables. This will serve you as you navigate the twists and when required to make career decisions.

Stop seeking perfection; it is actually holding you back! This is a hard one, and I am by no means saying produce poor work, but sometimes striving for perfection means the work simply doesn’t get done and you aren’t moving forward. There will be times standards need to be high, but not ALL the time. There will be cases where done is better than perfect; identify when that is and you guess it, communicate. Explain ‘this isn’t perfect but the content is there’, or ask before starting ‘is it ok to simply provide the data or are we sharing this externally’. You will be able to focus your energy where it matters. Let’s face it nothing is more demotivating than procrastinating.

Embrace what you bring to the table. I know what I’m not good at and I’ve been honest about it to people such as my manager and key stakeholders. Avoid wanting to be good at everything and lean into where you can excel and add value.  Diversity is about is embracing differences and ensuring everyone meets their full potential; a good employer will support you in that.

Don’t be afraid to challenge. Share your ideas. Say when you disagree (politely). Your value isn’t in simply agreeing with how things have always been done, and it certainly isn’t to not share your thoughts and ideas; one of them could be the next big thing!

Networking is so useful and you just never know the impact one random conversation could have on your career, but it’s also scary. Whilst I think there is some merit in just getting yourself out there, this really can be hard for some of us (including me). Start by building your internal network. Reach out to someone you were in a meeting with, or have been working on a project with and start to share challenges, ideas, tips. This will build your confidence and then maybe you and that person can start external networking together.

Find yourself a mentor and ensure the relationship is built on trust (this will take time but is vital). This can make work feel safe and you know that whatever the issue/challenge/achievement, you can share this with someone in a positive and constructive way. For me this avoids things taking a turn or festering into something bigger. Also I know that person will champion me when I’m not there. I never regret a session with my mentor and always come away feeling positive and re-aligned.

Turn the idea of ‘imposter syndrome’ on its head and think of it as providing opportunity. If I’m the smartest person in the room I’m in the wrong room! Let’s just stop saying ‘imposter syndrome’ altogether!

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Laura Freeman

My advice to my younger self or someone starting out in the industry would be to not underestimate the value of working hard. When something isn’t immediately clear, be brave and ask questions – the chances are that at least one person in the room will not fully understand either and having the confidence to recognise this has always led to a stronger working environment. It is common to feel overwhelmed by new challenges and tasks that you are not familiar with so be patient with yourself.

Try to understand as many areas of the business as possible and listen and learn from your fellow colleagues which will help build long lasting working relationships. I have had some great role models over the years, and they have helped me overcome many challenges and doubts to get me to where I am today. It took me a long time to have confidence in what I do and not to compare my experience or qualifications against others, you are on your own journey and your measure of success will be different to those around you so never set yourself barriers or compare.

Know your strengths as well as your weaknesses and embrace both, you do not need to have all the answers and you can and will evolve as your career develops. Working for a company that champions all employees and where you are surrounded by other women who have broken down barriers and stereotypes enables you to be supported in your role.

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Shimin Lu

My advice to people starting out in the industry and my younger self would be to embrace the journey with confidence and determination. It’s common for women to feel the need to be completely experienced or qualified before taking on new challenges, but this can sometimes hold us back from valuable opportunities to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and grow. Take the time to recognize your strengths and work on your weaknesses so that, when a new opportunity arises, you have more confidence in your abilities to take it or proactively ask for it. Explore as many areas of the business as possible and try to foster relationships with everyone –  both men and women – across the entire insurance network. Building these connections can open doors and create a supportive environment for your career. Overcoming challenges as a woman in the industry may require resilience and breaking down stereotypes. Trust in your abilities and in those of other women so that we can support each other as we grow in our careers together. I couldn’t do my job fully without knowing I am working with amazing women that empower one another.

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Hayley Rigby

If you can, apply to an internship whilst at university. They are often paid (which always helps as a student!) and it is a great way to learn what an industry/job is really like.

Talk to as many people as you can informally to get information on what the roles are like on a daily basis, whether this be family members, friends or through university. Ask about work/life balance and if this aligns with what you want. Ask about exams and any required qualifications, as these can be hard to manage alongside starting your first job.

I’ve personally tried to live by “quality over quantity” in many aspects of my career and personal life such as not working super long hours if not required, focussing on working the time required to add the most value I could. Similarly, when training for triathlons I tried to make each session count rather than doing “junk miles” and tiring myself out for no benefit. I learnt this slightly slower… After many injuries and illnesses…

Don’t forget about setting aside time for yourself. I became very busy, juggling many things at various points in my career and often this would sacrifice time for myself and the smaller things that I enjoy.

As hard as I found it, and I still do, don’t be afraid to say no.