This International Women’s Day we’re showcasing some of the great women across our business from all walks of life and at different stages in their careers, asking them the question “how do you feel empowered?”
For 2022, the theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. Imagining a gender equal world, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and where different is valued and celebrated.
Corrine Lewis, Enterprise Team Manager
I have been in the insurance industry for 30 years covering a variety of roles, with the last 2.4 years of those with Marsh Commercial as an EBU Team Manager. Going into lockdown 4 months after joining Marsh Commercial was daunting, I was still getting to know my team, processes and products. The pandemic for me demonstrated that we have a strong leadership team, which in turn brought out the real human side of my role and taught me to manage more collaboratively. Collectively we talk more about wellbeing, mental health and the resilience that we have all displayed. It certainly has been an exceptional ride of discovery.
Last August my personal world fell apart and now I am on a different road. One that is life changing and challenging. I do not receive a lot of good news which can be soul destroying, but only if you let it. My outlook on life has changed now. My role with Marsh Commercial helps me to get up every day and focus, it helps me to not think about me. I look for the positives in everything that I do. My team and managers have been incredible, empowering and encouraging, their support helps me fight, and whilst I have an epic fight, I am thankful for every day. Life is not a rehearsal, live now, don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today, remember to laugh, cherish and hold your loved ones close and don’t sweat the small stuff. Positive vibes.
Helen Kemp, Operations Leader
I started work in the insurance industry just over 30 years ago, and the industry has come a long way since the days of being asked at interview if you’d be happy to make the tea!
I was fortunate to be supported in my early career by a few challenging, forward thinking and supportive male leaders, who pushed me outside of my comfort zone and encouraged me to work in different areas of the business. I didn’t always get it right, I made mistakes and learned from them. I enjoyed the challenges of adapting to different roles, from operations, claims and sales.
Now working for a proactive business, who actively demonstrate their determination to provide a positive environment for diversity, inclusion and balancing the male/female roles across the business, making efforts to bridge that gender pay gap, means that I continue to feel valued and that my contribution makes a difference every day.
When I think about empowerment, to me that means that I’m able to enjoy the work I do. I strive to continually learn, to be adaptable, to always act with integrity and share my knowledge with those around me. I listen and try to help others be the best they can be in whatever they do.
No-one needs permission to feel empowered, it is yours to own.
Helen Lam, Head of Social Impact
I started with Marsh 8 years ago. Initially I thought I would join for 2 years and then move on, I guess the rest is history! It’s simple when I reflect on why I have continued to stay at the business; I love my role, I love the support and I love the company’s values to its colleagues, clients and communities. For me empowerment at work is reflected in the way a company trusts its employees, and Marsh does this. They trust and believe in the work I do, and this is what drives me to always do better for myself, others and the company.
Being an ethnically diverse women in a mainly male dominated industry I was intimidated at first, I wasn’t sure if I belonged nor good enough. That soon changed as I built relationships in the business and understood how open the culture was at Marsh. Our charity partnership with Ambitious about Autism is also fantastic as this reemphasises how having a neurodiverse workforce can help reimagine talent and diversity and inclusion.
I want to be a role-model to my daughter. I want her to know she really can do anything she puts her mind too, and to always be kind in whatever she does. I want to continue working in the social impact space - my role at Marsh has made me realise that businesses can really make a difference to communities so that’s where I want to stay! Recently I have tried to get back into tennis which I played as a child, and I have for the 100th time taken swimming lessons again as I still can’t swim! Doing these things makes me happy and this naturally makes me feel empowered.
Jennifer Oates, Admin Assistant
In and out of work, I feel most empowered when the work I do gets recognised. I’m proud to help my colleagues, giving me a sense of purpose and desire to grow within the business. My work ethic is very important to me, I strive to feel continuously motivated and push myself to be better and achieve more. Having positive feedback from my colleagues feeds that desire and helps me continue to be the best version of myself, whilst knowing I’ve helped them on their journeys too.
In the future, it’s my dream to run my own marketing agency or to work in insurance and grow within the industry. Deep down I enjoy helping others, helping them grow and taking a burden off their shoulders; helping them achieve more collectively.
At home, I’m working hard to save enough money for a mortgage for a first home. At this time it’s difficult for young people my age to achieve this goal, but I feel that I have the desire, the skills and the drive to get me there, as well as starting a family without having to give up on my professional ambitions.
Marta Pulencika, Client Experience Executive
I joined Marsh Commercial in April 2020. Starting a new job within the pandemic let alone a new industry can be very daunting. With the support of my line management and fellow colleagues, I have never felt more empowered and seen than any other company I have worked for. Marsh Commercial have created an environment where I feel valued and listened. I feel comfortable speaking up and challenging not only my peers but also stakeholders to better our company culture. I truly believe and see it every day myself that Marsh Commercial are committed to create an inclusive and diverse workforce where anyone can be themselves and achieve whatever goal they set.
Empowerment to me means to be self-determined and confident. Take me as I am.
Michelle Sims, Enterprise Team Leader
I’ve been with Marsh Commercial since June 2012 and had my current role since February 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to bubble away in the background. Who would have thought one month later, I would be leading a “working from home” team, a new team to me, and juggle the emotions that we all had about the world that was going on around us. What is pretty unique within my current environment is the autonomy I’m given to make my own decisions. I don’t ever feel that I have to ask permission or that I’m being micro-managed. This is by far not my first rodeo and my experience is trusted and respected. For me personally, I’ve a massive passion to train, and coach people and this is currently being supported within the business by allowing me access to as much exposure as possible. I’m about to deploy some training modules alongside our training team and will be actively involved with our next cohort of the next generation, both as mentor and trainer. So for me, to know that my business area fully supports my passion, that right there is what makes me feel empowered. Empowered to have a passion, to pursue it and to allow that to organically grow for me.
For the past 15 years or so, I placed my career on hold somewhat to raise a family. I continued to work however didn’t grab wider opportunities that I could have because I felt that I’d chosen to care for my children, they deserved the best of me. It’s only now that I feel that I can pursue my dreams of helping others. But the message I would like people to take from this, is first of all that it’s ok to prioritise family, but second of all, we as women can have both. I was very much a full-time working parent and I’m comfortable with the choices that I made. My hope for the future is that women will always feel that they can have it all, park that mum guilt and grab the world that is out there.
Rebecca Merry, Leader – Operations Management
My path into insurance was not traditional; living in a rural community, I joined the industry via a small family run financial advisor. This was to be my first taste of true male allyship; being pushed and challenged by the MD, he sought out ways to support me through a number of fantastic opportunities, and when the time came for me to move on, he supported me with unerring energy. I’ve met, throughout my journey, strong, like-minded women, as well as continued to have excellent male allies. These people started conversations, opened dialogue and gave me opportunities.
The trajectory of my career took me from broking, in to underwriting and back to broking; I’ve had the chance to ‘hold the lift’ for others – hold space for women starting out and ensure I give back to an industry that, has inspired me, and is offering me a unique and exciting journey. As my path continues and I seek out opportunities every day to lift others; I have a lived experience that demonstrates that blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. You don’t have to lift others throughout your career - you get to.
Shilpa Pagonda, Service Quality Manager
I work as a Service Quality Manager in London, Marsh Commercial. Recently, I completed 10 years with the company and I wondered if this was a personal achievement or is the company looking after me well. When I pondered into this thought, I realised it is both my personal achievement and the support I had from my colleagues and managers over the years that gave me strength to continue working here with a big smile. Over the years, I assumed various positions – Account Handler, Team Leader and Client Service Director. Each of these roles were challenging but very rewarding professionally. With every role I accepted, I grew personally and professionally too.
The confidence I gained working here helped me pursue my all-time passion & hobby – Indian classical dance. I discontinued dancing in 2006 after learning & performing at various events for over 15 years. In 2017, I went back into dancing and had an opportunity to perform at Cambridge Big Weekend. I was performing after 11 years but it did not feel new and felt at home. I would say, please be open to opportunities coming your way and grab them with both your hands. And, please continue pursuing your hobbies and be happy always!!
Vicki Reid, Account Executive
Having joined Marsh Commercial behind a camera in the midst of a global pandemic, I couldn’t have imagined how visible and valued I’d feel in such a large organisation. I was on-boarded as an Account Manager in October 2020, and with the support of my managers I’ve developed my skills through shadowing, mentoring, professional studies and online webinars. A year later, and I’m in an Account Executive role feeling completely empowered, a stark change from the insecure and hesitant person I’ve been in previous companies.
When I started out in insurance around 10 years ago, I was nervous to bring my whole self to work and have experienced some offices where there have been issues in this regard. Thanks to the trailblazers who’ve made strides in improving our industry and others over the past few years, I’ve definitely seen an improvement in attitudes to diversity and inclusion. Marsh Commercial I am so pleased to say have been incredibly welcoming and encouraging of me being my whole self, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of our colleague resource groups continued efforts over the coming years.