Anne Charon ferma1A great career for women – and not just women

Insurance – and risk – is a great career for women, although not just for women, insists Anne Charon, CEO of the Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) entity in France.

Anne has three children aged 15 to 21, and she says that she regularly reminds them that insurance is a great industry to work. “It has lots of opportunities and lots of career development possibilities. You see many different industries. You can work in underwriting, claims, finance, HR or marketing. You take care of the customer and they all have different needs and strategies making it very interesting to speak to them. No two days are the same.”

Risk management, she says, can bring out the nurturing side of women, although again this is not a quality unique to women. “Increasingly women have access to this role and it is about protecting and conserving the people and the assets of that organisation, so it is a little like looking after a family. That makes it a very good role for women.”

Why is Zurich sponsoring the ladies’ lunch at the FERMA Forum 2015?

“It is quite a tradition that we do something for ladies. On the previous occasions, we’ve had lots of discussion about how to mentor and help the next generation have access to key roles. We’ve shared lots of practical advice. This year we also organised an event for ladies in risk at RIMS. We had a lunch where we shared experiences and heard from an excellent speaker who had access to key roles. In Zurich we try to promote all of this work at all levels. We have women’s internal networks in 15 countries.”

Why is networking the topic for discussion at the ladies’ lunch?

“This is a great topic because networking is essential if you are going to promote diversity. The network becomes a team where you find help, gain confidence and share ideas. Good mentoring is really the key (and I have mentored quite a few ladies myself), but helping each other and sharing knowledge through a network is a very robust foundation from which to move and to grow.

“Women network in a different way from men, I think. We don’t necessarily have the same confidence or sense of ‘brotherhood’ but then women will share things that perhaps men would not. I think we discuss a broader mix of topics. We pay attention to the younger women and to the less strong members. We look at soft skills. Men are more straightforward in what they are looking to get.”

Anne has created a network for female customers in France as she sees more women with access to the risk management and insurance buying roles. “Our Ladies’ Customers Advisory Board is a great forum where our female customers enjoy meeting each other and sharing practices. It is very popular. We have one or two events a year for this group and they are the best attended events. There are no ‘no-shows’! Zurich also has a network for women customers in Spain and we hope to bring them together for a joint event next year, along with other European countries.”

DISCLAIMER: The content of this interview reflects the personal view of the interviewee and not necessarily that of Zurich Insurance Group.