It is important that if you are to succeed, that you are personally aware of your triggers and weak spots and continue to look for improvements to them.
Chief Operations Officer
Lawcover Insurance P/L
An Interview with Ms. Kerrie Lalich
by BEATRICE MORLEY | JULY 2020
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be consistently approachable, as I find that this evokes genuine and transparent communication with staff. Individual connections are important. The time taken to engage staff in ‘water cooler’ conversation is the glue that holds a positive culture together.
What’s one important leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Not dealing with staff issues quickly and with empathy sends issues underground to fester in gossip and misinformation. This corrodes a positive culture.
What are some important things that you have undertaken and have contributed to your success?
Every year or so, I go to one those awful Speaking Under Pressure, or How to Present with Impact courses that take you out of your comfort zone, and push you to look at and deal with difficult situations a little better. It has helped with difficult clients, staff and Board meetings and has given me the tools to deal with tough times and conversations. It is important that if you are to succeed, that you are personally aware of your triggers and weak spots and continue to look for improvements to them.
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered? Why and how did you handle it?
It has to be when cyber-attacks started to hit law practices a few years ago. Many small practices were the victim of business email compromise attacks and large sums of client funds were going missing to fraudsters. It became a major threat to legal practice, especially sole practitioners and smaller firms. Many didn’t have awareness of, nor adequate ICT or security protections from cyber-attacks.
To provide protection to firms facing this threat, we launched a comprehensive awareness and education strategy, including delivery of a group cyber-risk insurance policy for access by all insured law practices, without cost to them. Access to this free policy formed the centerpiece of our cyber defense and education strategy and almost certainly saved law practices from otherwise devastating losses.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
Moving from a series of large listed general insurers to a mutual was a great decision. I had the opportunity to reshape operations and demonstrate my abilities. The mutual insurer ethos, with all efforts and benefits generated by the company reverting to the insureds or members, really resonates with my core values.
What are the biggest opportunities you think are available to women today?
Most reputable employers now have gender based recruitment, salary and benefits/work opportunity parity targets, that apply across all positions. There is far greater opportunity for women nowadays than ever before. Most also promote flexible working arrangement and support women with families. Go for it!
What does diversity mean to you in a practical sense?
Diversity of staff (gender, culture, age groups) means that you end up with better conversations, challenges to status quo and ultimately better decisions and outcomes. It’s the incremental benefit of different viewpoints that produce enduring ways forward.
What are you doing to make sure everyone feels included?
I’m writing this submission during the pandemic and while working from home. Teams and Zoom meetings are working well and helping to make staff feel included and still part of a broader team. Popping into and providing updates to other departmental meetings, also makes those staff feel that they are still part of a broader company that’s continuing its operations in a (semi) normal way!
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Always focus on what is important. What’s the best for the business, what’s the best for my family etc. In that way, you always concentrate on the greater good rather than the emotion or stress generated by some individuals.
What is one interesting fact that we will be surprised to know about you?
Judge me if you will, but I do love everything about early 80s new romantic music.
More about Kerrie:
Kerrie joined Lawcover in February 2013 as Chief Operations Officer, with primary responsibility for leading Professional Services – Claims, Insurance Services, Underwriting and Practice Support Services.
Kerrie was admitted as a solicitor in 1996 and has predominantly worked in the insurance sectors of law firms in the Sydney CBD and metropolitan areas undertaking both plaintiff and defendant work. In 2001, Kerrie moved from legal practice to the insurance industry, working in the areas of professional indemnity, public liability, personal injury/catastrophic claims, D&O and financial lines. Her insurance career has included time with AMP/GIO, Suncorp, QBE and MDA National.
Kerrie’s focus over the last 10 years has been in leading teams delivering professional indemnity insurance, claims, advisory and risk management education services, to the medical and legal professions.