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: tell us about your journey to date. Where has your career taken you? How have you navigated challenges and overcome obstacles? How did you get into insurance and how did your role today come about?

Amy Bumstead

My career to date has been anything but linear; something I now feel very fortunate to have experienced.

I studied History at University, admittedly to buy myself some time in figuring out what I wanted to do. Following graduation I secured my first ‘proper’ job where I gained experience in a whole host of things from HR, L&D, Employee Engagement, CSR, Comms and of course a general 101 in office etiquette. After a few years I decided I wanted to find my ‘passion’. With absolutely zero clue what this would involve, I decided that was recruitment. I joined an agency who were setting up their City office as employee number 4. The buzz of finding someone their dream role and a client the employee they desperately needed was everything I had hoped for; cold calling and being hung up on by prospective clients was not…

Sadly just as I turned 25 and only a few months into my new job I discovered I had cervical cancer. The endless hospital visits, social anxiety and quite a big operation meant I decided to leave my job and focus on my health for a bit. Thankfully I was very lucky and once back to full health, armed with a little more confidence, my old recruitment agency employer kindly offered to help me find a new role. A fresh start!

They asked what I wanted in an employer and my response (this is the truth), was that I would love to join somewhere like Apollo, my favourite client when I worked in recruitment. To me this meant somewhere with a good culture, lots of ambition and where the people were all just really nice. Next thing you know I was working at Apollo as a Receptionist. This will always be one of the roles I feel most grateful for. This gave me a chance to get back into the swing of it and build confidence in things as simple as commuting into London. I met lovely people whilst being able to do a varied role and keep busy. After a while Sally Peace, Chief of Staff and HRD, asked if I wanted to join her in HR. It’s 7 years later and here we are! In those 7 years I have moved from HR to Head of Communications and Marketing and have enjoyed (nearly) every step of the way.

Today my role consists of ensuring our comms and marketing strategy supports Apollo’s success through engaged employees who are aligned with our vision, and by showcasing our incredible story to the outside world. Opportunity is what drives me and seeing what the future holds for Apollo is something I find extremely exciting!

The takeaways I guess are don’t be scared to start again and don’t spend your 20’s panicking that you have to have it all sussed out! My career has taken some turns and I have made some decisions that at the time felt like setbacks, but they have all provided opportunity and been instrumental (even if I couldn’t see it at the time) in leading me to where I am today; happy and valued.

Finally, please please please book your smear tests. They can feel scary and uncomfortable but for all of 30 seconds and could save your life.

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Laura Freeman

I have been working in Insurance for 23 years, my first job in Insurance was a Junior Analyst at a small syndicate and since then I have held numerous positions in large and small syndicates. I have been a board member for various companies and I am currently Co-Chair of the LMA Exposure Management Working Group.

My ‘plan’ after finishing my A-levels was always to do my Law degree and become a Lawyer, but after a year of working in a Barristers Chambers in London I decided that Law was not for me and I started the search for career inspirations. I applied for several jobs working in Insurance and Banking but I decided to take on the role of a Junior Catastrophe Modelling Analyst for Wellington Underwriting Syndicate. This was a huge change for me as I had never thought of starting a career in Insurance and I did not know what a Catastrophe Model was so I had to lean on my Drama A Level and pretend I knew what I was doing to get through the first few months (maybe years!) I did however love it from the start.

It triggered my fascination with all things weather and enabled me to be challenged by trying to work out how a catastrophe model works; this part I am still trying to figure out! Working in Insurance had a buzz about it and I can still remember the first time I went to Lloyd’s and how amazed I was at seeing all the Underwriters sat at the box waiting for their Brokers to arrive. I still wanted to study and I was lucky to have such a great company to support me in this, so I could complete my studies and work at the same time.

Catastrophe Modelling and Exposure Management has evolved over the years, and I have been lucky enough to be part of this amazing industry from the start. I always felt I had a lot to prove being a young woman in Insurance and also being in a role that is actuarial focussed but not being a qualified Actuary myself but this made me even more determined to prove people wrong and to break the mould for what a ‘Head of’ role could and should be.

I have overcome challenges by always striving to be better, asking questions when I am unsure and treating people with respect and that has served me well. I have been very lucky to have some amazing role models that have guided me through and helped me to have the confidence to push through any barriers that were put in my way.

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Shimin Lu

I always wanted a technical career applying maths so studied Actuarial Science at university. My first industry role was in Reinsurance Pricing and some months in Reserving at Aspen Re where I worked on traditional London Market lines of business.

I cherish the Actuarial training I gained here whilst working with a great team of people and experienced all the forces required in carrying out large reinsurance transactions. The enjoyment I found from my role as a pricing Actuary solidified after moving to Apollo and seeing how insurance can be used as an enabler for change. Some of the work involved building out our pricing capabilities for our micromobility, vehicle leasing and ride-sharing partnerships to drive future green transportation solutions.

This involved collaborating with the largest tech companies in the world to create new fit-for-purpose insurance solutions that meets rapidly evolving risks. I now work in Apollo’s innovation consortium helping build new solutions that aim to solve real insurance gaps, from the first intellectual property protection policy to levelling up on non-statutory paid parental leave.

This has been a good challenge for me as it’s no longer about following what has been done in the past but drawing on my previous experiences and knowledge to look at risk in new ways.

I am really excited for the future and the opportunities in my role.

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Hayley Rigby

Whilst studying chemistry at Imperial College London, I looked for the shortest possible summer internship in my second year and came across a six week actuarial internship at Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP). I applied (not knowing what an Actuary was!) and was offered the internship. Thankfully a lot of my interview was discussing how I worked as a waitress in a restaurant owned by Steven Gerrard… So my lack of actuarial knowledge didn’t show too much. After a really enjoyable six weeks with LCP, I was offered the graduate role for when my degree finished. And this was where my actuarial journey began!

I worked at LCP consultancy for just under 3 years, gaining great exposure to different actuarial tasks and making a good start on the actuarial exams. I found adapting to a full time job on top of studying for the actuarial exams quite difficult at first; I sacrificed various social and personal interests and become very disciplined with my time. I wanted to qualify as quickly as I could, to remove what felt like working two jobs at once! When I got into a good routine and found the right balance for me, it became much easier and I qualified within 3.5 years. But there were some really difficult times where I questioned my career choice!  Everyone at work, my family and friends were very supportive and always told me to keep going, and for that I am very grateful.

I decided to move on from consultancy life to in-house, and followed two former LCP employees to Apollo in May 2016. At this time, Apollo was much smaller and quite different to what it is today. But I have enjoyed the evolution and the challenges that have come my way at Apollo and my 7.5 years has flown by. When I joined Apollo, I was 1 of 3 actuaries tasked with carrying out all types of actuarial work – this was very daunting at first! Now we are one of the largest teams in the business with huge ambition.

I have done small amounts of capital modelling work, 3.5 years in reserving and the rest and currently in pricing. I think I will stay in pricing for the foreseeable and have found it the most suited to my personality and type of work I enjoy as an actuary.