Patschak: ‘You can’t expect to be nine to five and get to the C-suite’
Reinsurance industry veterans held court last week, giving advice on how they successfully led start-up companies and what kind of talent they looked for when growing their staff.
Don Kramer, founder, chairman and CEO of ILS Capital Management Ltd; John Berger, chairman and CEO of Third Point Re; Susan Patschak, CEO of Canopius Bermuda Ltd and Canopius Underwriting Bermuda Ltd since their start-up in 2007; and Conan Ward, CEO of Validus Reinsurance, shared their experiences with members of WiRe - a reinusurance networking group for women.
The panellists shared how they chose their teams; what competencies, experience, skills, and personalities they sought in their ‘starting line-ups’; their business goals and strategies; and how they felt their starting benches would help them achieve these goals.
Panellists all agreed that when building a company, networking is critical.
“I have always been of the opinion that you can never meet enough people,” said Ms Patschak.
Women underwriters, brokers and other professionals working within Bermuda’s reinsurance industry were invited to the event as one of WiRe’s ongoing professional development opportunities aimed at women in the reinsurance field. The event coincided with International Women’s Day.
Other topics discussed were career advice and tips, the importance of corporate culture, career breaks, mistakes and what the panel learned from them, starting a company in the current environment and women in the C-Suite.
“Liking what you do is why I keep starting companies and why I am such a miserable retiree,” said Mr Kramer, adding that his real skill is hiring great people and allowing them the freedom to do what they do best.
John Berger agreed: “You will know that it’s the right job when it doesn’t feel like work.”
Ms Patschak offered the following explanation as to why there are not as many women in ‘C-suite’ positions: “Reinsurance is tough. Travel, long hours, and entertaining. It’s tough to do it all and many women decide it just isn’t worth the sacrifice. But if you are willing to make the sacrifice then there are opportunities, but you can’t expect to be nine to five and get to the C-Suite.”
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