WOMEN IN REINSURANCE

S I N G A P O R E

Women in Reinsurance (WiRE) organises four major events every year.  Our events include mentoring, personal development workshops and networking events. 

 

To join the WiRE network, please click on our Membership page.

© 2019 by Women in Reinsurance (WiRE)

  • Facebook - Grey Circle
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle

EXECUTIVE PROFILES

WOMEN IN REINSURANCE

INSPIRING LEADERS SERIES

CLAUDIA SALEM

Different cultures and different groups of people behave in different ways due to a variety of reasons and intellectual curiosity is required to understand where people are coming from. Knowing how people from different walks of life think (the unknown is scary) and spending time to understand them is 80% of the journey. And what can we do on a personal level? Be aware of unconscious biases, as we all have them. It is important to train yourself to be aware of when they are triggered. The first step towards change is to recognize the problem. I find that the best way for employees and leaders to raise awareness is through humor and addressing things in a light-hearted way, where possible. At least that works well for me.

Claudia Salem

CEO Property & Casualty, Asia Pacific - Allianz SE

A morning coffee with Claudia Salem, CEO Property & Casualty, Asia Pacific, Allianz SE

ANNA KOHLS | 14 OCTOBER 2019

This morning, I had the opportunity to have coffee with Claudia Salem, CEO Property & Casualty for Asia Pacific at Allianz. She shared her personal story with the WiRE community. Prior to Allianz, Claudia was Chief Executive for Singapore and Head of Southeast Asia at AIG. She joined AIG in 2003, holding positions in New York, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Anna: Claudia, you joined us recently at Allianz after more than 15 years with AIG. What made you choose Allianz?

 

Claudia: There were a couple of factors that I considered. First, the opportunity – to be responsible for the Asia region meant a wider breadth of geography and exposure to new markets for me, such as China for example. Next is the challenge – Allianz is punching below our weight in the P&C space in the region today, and we have a big growth agenda. Last but not least, the third one is professional growth – I have been successful at AIG, holding various roles and climbing the corporate ladder. I would like to challenge myself to succeed in a new environment and different business culture.

 

Anna: You are an inspiring female role model. Can you share some of the important things that you are doing that have contributed to your success?

 

Claudia: I would like to share three key lessons. The first one is failing fast. There is a common saying that you learn more from your failures than from your successes. I would like to take it further than that, in saying that you need to fail fast. You have to be honest with yourself and be open to take corrective measures the moment you realize that things are not going according to plan. Second one is no pain, no gain. It is important to be persistent. Career journeys today require lifelong learning. To stay on the cutting edge you have to work hard and continue to invest in yourself, talent alone is not enough. The third one is be fluid. It is important to make plans but stay flexible. Life is full of surprises and so is your career. I am a computer and communications engineer and wanted to work in tech startup businesses, and I ended up in insurance. It was a journey, and that journey continues.

 

What you will need to bear in mind is that if you look at the lessons I’ve shared, sometimes these things are in conflict. You have to constantly calibrate and learn as you go. Over time, you gain experience by making mistakes, hopefully doing many things right, and having some luck as well. This will allow you to develop your own gut feeling on how to balance the three things. There is no one right answer.

 

Anna: What does diversity mean to you in a practical sense?

 

Claudia: When I think of how to define diversity, I see gender as just one part of it. Age, culture, sexual orientation, and educational background are also equally important elements. What should we practically do about fostering diversity? I believe we must start with cultural and diversity awareness.

Different cultures and different groups of people behave in different ways due to a variety of reasons and intellectual curiosity is required to understand where people are coming from. Knowing how people from different walks of life think (the unknown is scary) and spending time to understand them is 80% of the journey. And what can we do on a personal level? Be aware of unconscious biases, as we all have them.

 

It is important to train yourself to be aware of when they are triggered. The first step towards change is to recognize the problem. I find that the best way for employees and leaders to raise awareness is through humor and addressing things in a light-hearted way, where possible. At least that works well for me.

 

Anna: Do you have a role model?

 

Claudia: Thinking of career and life as a journey, I had a number of different role models. First, my parents when I was growing up. Then at different points in time there were different people who I looked up to, including friends, bosses, and colleagues I admired. So to answer your question, I don’t have a fixed role model but have had many throughout my life and career. I have also been very fortunate to have mentors and sponsors who saw my potential even at times when I didn’t. Mentors will more typically give expert advice, whereas sponsors are in decision-making seats and can influence outcomes for you in your career. In my experience, the best sponsors are the ones you recruit organically rather than having them assigned to you.

 

Anna: Closing the loop with an Allianz-style question... what is your One Advice to women in the industry today?

Claudia: Remember to always be kind and pay it forward.