Meet Carolyn ....

For International Women's Day 2018 we interviewed our Head of Small Business and Schemes Carolyn to find out more about her career

Carolyn CallanWhat first attracted you to insurance / how did you get into the insurance industry?

 As everyone knows, no one decides to pursue a career in insurance…it just sort of happens!  But I’m so glad it did!  I had already dipped my toe in to the world of financial services marketing and I had my head turned by a potential role as Marketing Director for a new start-up business that was aspiring to be the next ‘Direct Line’ but for small businesses. I joined PremierLine (now Premier Business Care, part of Allianz) back in January 2002 and I’ve never looked back!

 

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Probably being a working Mum and trying to maintain the right work-life balance.  I went back to work when my son was 6 months old and started a new role setting up a new business unit which became my second baby really.  It was a struggle at times but I feel that my son has grown up respecting the fact his Mum has a career and is passionate about her job.  Ours is not a traditional household and he’s used to me working away and I think that’s good for him to experience before he heads in to the world of work and adult life.

 

How do you feel insurance has progressed since you started?

Insurance has changed significantly since I started way back in 2002 - mainly in the way it is sold and distributed, particularly at the micro-SME end of the market.  At the time, the PremierLine proposition of selling business insurance direct to small businesses was quite unique but now it’s being sold online, with the level of complexity in the products sold in this way increasing, which is very different to the way business insurance has always been sold via a relationship-managed model through a local broker.

 

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I don’t get time for hobbies at the moment as I’m PA, manager and chauffeur to my teenage son who is pursuing his love of music and performing arts!  But when I do have 30 mins free I do like to try and squeeze a run or should I say a jog in…some me-time!

 

What’s the best part of your job?

The people I work with….I get the opportunity to work with a great team of people both in my own team and also the wider Covea leadership team.  I consider myself to be very lucky to have such a supportive team of people around me – and the variety of my role…one minute I’m involved in strategic planning about where we’re taking our business and what our vision is for the next 5 years, the next I’m meeting with our broker partners to discuss new product/proposition opportunities…never a dull day!

 

In your experience, have you ever encountered any barriers to success because you’re a woman?

I wouldn’t say I’ve come across barriers as such as I believe things only become barriers if you allow them to.  Despite the fact that it has significantly improved and there are many more senior woman in the insurance industry, it is still very male-dominated.  I have on many occasions particularly earlier in my insurance career, experienced uncomfortable situations where you are the senior person in the room and people insist on directing the discussions at your male colleague, who happens to be one of your direct reports or where people assume that you can't have a valid input because you haven’t worked your way up through the ranks of the insurance industry, man and boy!  This however, only made me more determined to prove people wrong and succeed.

 

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given?

To set up a new commercial insurance unit from scratch with little/no commercial insurance experience…was I scared…yes!  Did I enjoy it…..YES!  One of the most challenging and yet rewarding experiences of my career to date.

 

As it’s International Women’s Day – which woman has inspired you the most?

This would have to be my best friend, Sarah…without a doubt.  We have been friends since we were four and 40+ years on she never fails to amaze me.  She had a car accident when we were in our mid-20’s leaving her paralysed and in a wheelchair but has it stopped her…not at all.  In fact, it made her more determined than ever to live life to the full.  She’s not afraid of a challenge and has never let her disability get in the way of anything.  She does everything with a smile and has the most amazing positive attitude towards life. 

 

-Ends-

 

Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France and served 11.5 million policyholders, generating over 16.4 billion Euros in premiums in 2016.  

Covéa Insurance handles the insurance needs of over 1.3 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, designed to meet the needs of most individuals and businesses. Employing over 1500 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and featuring in the 2015 and 2016 Sunday Times Top 100 Mid-sized Best Companies to Work For. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In January 2016, Sterling Insurance Company Limited became a fully integrated part of Covea Insurance Plc, following a Part VII transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Sterling Insurance was voted No. 1 in the Commercial and Personal Lines 2015 Insurance Times Broker Service Survey and Covéa Insurance was awarded the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year Award at the 2016 British Insurance Awards.

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