I think it’s important for all companies to create a culture where women feel comfortable and supported to apply for more senior roles
Chief Underwriting Officer
An Interview with Ms. Nicola Stacey
by KATY FAIRWEATHER | SEPTEMBER 2020
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as approachable, democratic and inclusive. I have always had an open door policy and enjoy listening and working with people of all ages and levels across the business. I believe this creates loyalty and trust which encourage an open dialogue with staff enabling them to feel like they can come to me with any problems.
Throughout my career I have always worked hard to create a safe and friendly space for staff, one that encourages the sharing of knowledge and ideas. I feel this is something that ultimately benefits the business as a whole as it encourage collective learning and progress.
What’s one important leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
During my career I’ve been fortunate enough to work at a number of amazing companies, and with some very talented individuals who have contributed to my development as a leader.
A key lesson for me, that I often encourage others to do, is to get out of your comfort zone and be brave in your choices. All too often people get stuck in their roles or a positions that don’t stretch them, and when that happens invariably people become complacent and their progression stops.
I would encourage everyone to be brave and say yes to the next challenge that comes your way. Unfortunately I think women are especially more reticent to push for the next challenge or a more senior role. Time and again men are more confident to apply for a more challenging senior role, even when they don’t have the right skillset, whereas women too often wait until they are 95% capable before they apply. We need to do more as an industry to support women in their career progression so that we can ensure a greater gender balance at a senior level.
What are some important things that you have undertaken and have contributed to your success?
There is an innate drive in me that pushes me to look ahead and prepare for the next challenge. I’m always looking for ways in which I can contribute or add value. I’m not one of those people that accepts the status quo, or coasts along, I believe there is always more to be done, or smarter more efficient ways of working.
I would encourage young people that are early on in their career, who find that they aren’t very busy to seek out someone that is and try and find ways to help. By adding value you will prove yourself to be an asset to the company, one that is worth keeping and investing in.
What does diversity mean to you in a practical sense?
In a practical sense having a diverse and inclusive workforce enable us to respond more fully to the needs of our clients, and is an integral part to achieving of our strategic goals,
It’s about creating a genuinely inclusive culture, and is not about “quotas” or ticking boxes.
It’s about hiring people from all different backgrounds, and making them feel comfortable sharing ideas and helping them to perform to their maximum potential.
It’s also about actively listening and appreciating different points of view, seeing things from a different perspective which invariably develops better ideas and solutions.
What would you say is the most difficult part of implementing a D&I program/ culture?
At Chaucer we have a number of initiatives and policies in place that are helping to create a more diverse and inclusive environment but there is always more to be done.
I think it’s important for all companies to create a culture where women feel comfortable and supported to apply for more senior roles. It is difficult to create change when women don’t have the confidence or willingness to push themselves forward. Sometimes this reluctance comes from a fear of taking more on, particularly for those with young families at home. It is therefore vital that we coach and support women throughout the promotion process to give them the confidence to progress in their careers.
At a practical level another important part is taking the time to analyse and understand the make-up of your team. To understand what drives them, their key strengths, and ways of working. If you invest the time to really understand your team; including their development needs, it will make it easier for you as a leader to plug any gaps by bringing in people with a diverse skill set.
What would the person you are today say to the person you were on your first day at work?
Never stop learning. Make lots of lateral moves while you’re early in your career so that you can expand your knowledge and experience as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to throw your hat into the ring and ask for more responsibilities. Don’t doubt how capable you are, or shy away from a promotion, it doesn’t necessarily mean more work, instead try thinking of it as increasing your delegation skills.
More about Nicola:
Nicola was appointed Chief Underwriting Officer for Chaucer in November 2019. Nicola’s main responsibilities are the development and execution of Chaucer’s underwriting strategy, with a focus on portfolio growth.
Nicola has over 30 years of (re)insurance experience, including senior underwriting leadership roles at Swiss Re and GE Insurance Solutions. She joined Chaucer from Swiss Re Europe where she previously served as Managing Director with responsibility for risk management globally for P&C Reinsurance.