Allied World Bermuda promotes Bermudian woman to COO
Drive, ambition and good bosses — theyre just three of the things Kirsten Faria credits for having led her to a higher level of responsibility at Allied World Assurance Company Ltd. The re/insurer announced last Friday that Ms Faria had been promoted to a role never before held by a Bermudian woman.
Ms Faria will take over as chief operations officer, overseeing the strategic initiatives and business development of the companys Bermuda platform. She joined Allied World in 2002 as what was then called a junior underwriter in the companys healthcare division and has nearly 14 years experience in the insurance industry. She has spent her entire career at Allied World working on the companys Bermuda book of healthcare business covering the medical malpractice space.
Before joining Allied World, Ms Faria was a broker for Marsh Bermuda on direct side, large, excess casualty business. Ms Faria received a Bachelors Degree from McGill University in Montreal.
Ms Faria says her new role moves her to the support side of Allied World, which varies in a very fundamental way from her current role as an underwriter on the production side.
Thats a big change for me, obviously having spent ten years concerned about driving business in the door, making sure that we understand that we have the right products for the industry, she said. Now Ill be on the support side and really focused on the Bermuda operations, looking at strategic initiatives that impact the Bermuda platform.
Business development goes hand in hand with that. Ill be liaising with the broker partners, engaging in strategic planning for the platform and obviously a lot of community relations and public affairs goes hand in hand with that to make sure that Allied World is viewed in the public light as being a partner to Bermuda and engaged in Bermuda as a marketplace and as a country.
Ms Faria will report to Frank DOrazio, president of Allied Worlds Bermuda and International Insurance platforms, and to John McElroy, global chief operating officer of Allied World corporate in New York.
The new role makes Ms Faria the only woman in Allied World Bermudas C-Suite.
Asked how she felt about that she said, You know, its great to work for a company that recognises women in what is a male-dominated industry, I suppose, but I think there are also other things that the company really values so much and that is making sure that you have knowledge in your field, the drive and the work ethic.
Im really pleased to be where I am, and certainly thankful for the path that was forged ahead of me by other women and am cognisant of the fact that I have a responsibility to the women who will follow me, but thats certainly not all that I think defines the role and where I am today.
Ms Faria says shes never wanted to get a job just because shes a woman or just because shes a Bermudian.
It should never be enough just to be Bermudian to get a job. I think we should always be striving for that differentiator as an individual, she said.
I dont want to know that I just got a job because Im Bermudian. I want to know that I got the job because I have the skill set to execute on it, that I am the best for the job of a bigger set of people than just the Bermudian population.
And while Ms Faria says that being Bermudian is secondary to all her knowledge and hard work, she also says Bermuda has made her what she is today.
Bermuda in particular has had a big impact on the career progression that Ive had. We get the biggest clients in Bermuda with the most complex programmes, the most complex wordings and the most complex problems. Bermudas the Petri dish that has responded and solved a lot of those issues for our clients. Being able to grow up in the industry that is able to offer that exposure to that degree of complexity, even at a very early stage in my career, I think is a differentiator that I think you may not get to the same degree in the US or the London markets. So I think the fact that I cut my teeth in Bermuda had a large part to do with where I am.
Asked for some advice for young Bermudians looking to follow her career path, she said, I think having a mentor and being engaged. In insurance in Bermuda, because it is Bermuda, we have this fantastic environment that attracts the best in the industry, she said.
Our students are going to have to be increasingly savvy when they try and engage with employers to differentiate themselves. They have to take every possible opportunity to do so and always present themselves in the most professional manner that they can.
Bermudian students should not be resting and relying on the laurels of having Bermudian status. Thats not good enough. We should always strive to be better. And to be honest, I do think Bermudians are doing that. Theyre not resting on the laurels of having that piece of paper and they are taking their education to the next level and I think were seeing more and more qualified Bermudians coming into the marketplace.
First and foremost, you have to want it. You have to engage in your own progression. Ive said it a number of times — you have to be an advocate for yourself and you have to make sure that youre reaching out to your peers and to your potential mentors for engagement and conversation and lunch and try and understand what their view is on how to progress and what they think you should be doing or the weaknesses that you have that you need to work on. You have to be prepared for some frank conversations about yourself and be able to take on board constructive criticism. Fundamentally, if you cant do that, then I think youre going to have a problem progressing — regardless of which industry that youre in.
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