Caroline King - Pen's "Woman In Focus"
Published On : 19 Mar 2019
We are continuing our month-long series of Pen women ‘In Focus’ as we sit down with Caroline King - Operations Director for our Real Estate division.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE:
I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of Pen Underwriting’s Regional Real Estate business, team and its P&L. I joined the Gallagher group as part of the Barbon acquisition in 2013, moving into my current role as Operations Director of real estate in 2015.
WHAT WAS YOUR VERY FIRST JOB AND WHAT DID THAT TEACH YOU?
My first ever job was as a waitress in a local tea room on Saturdays, but my first full-time role was as an insurance clerk at high street broker Swinton. It instilled in me a strong work ethic and taught me about responsibility, and how being focused brings results - especially when the incentive was holiday vouchers! I also had to learn the phonetic alphabet, which has stayed with me to this day.
DID YOU HAVE A CHILDHOOD CAREER AMBITION — AND ARE YOU PREPARED TO SHARE IT?
As a child, it was the fairly typical wish of becoming a pop star (even though I cannot sing). Then, as I reached my teenage years the dream of travelling the world turned me towards a career as an air hostess which I researched for my high school career project . It was, in fact, that project that changed my mind!
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK IN RISK MANAGEMENT & INSURANCE: CHOICE OR CHANCE?
WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?
In terms of impact to the business, it’s the winning or retaining of a significant case or deal whether individually or as part of a team. In terms of people , it’s being able to support and develop individuals and seeing them succeed. Although it’s not industry-specific, being part of something and making a difference are my motivators.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHT SO FAR?
On a personal level, in my previous business I was nominated for and won the employee recognition awards for People. More recently, as part of Pen, I’ve been nominated for and accepted onto the first ‘Runway’ programme.
On a business level, it was seeing members of the real estate regional team recognised in our Pen awards, including the ‘Pen Player ‘award, couple with the financial success we’ve achieved since the reinvention of the business in 2016.
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF OR OFFER TO OTHERS STARTING OUT IN THEIR CAREERS?
Try not to focus on what’s out of your control and never hit ‘send’ when frustrated. Go back and re-read after reflection. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this advice.
Best piece of advice I’ve ever received – use facts not opinions (unless appropriate) to make your point. Facts can often change opinions and break down sweeping statements. Where an opinion or point is made supported by facts, it gives much greater credibility.
THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE CONTINUES TO FACE THE CHALLENGE OF AN UNDER-REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN AT SENIOR LEVEL — WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE COULD HELP ‘MOVE THE DIAL’?
The best thing a business can do is acknowledge where it’s failing and demonstrate that there are actions and controls that can be taken to ensure that ALL employees - not just women - are treated equally and have the same opportunities to progress and succeed.
The recruitment process and selection is a key area: make sure all recruiting managers are trained and buy into the benefit of and need for a diverse and varying team of employees that bring different perspectives and skillsets.
I also believe that women need to be more direct in putting themselves forward for bigger roles and opportunities. Don’t be embarrassed to have ambition and push for it.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE INDUSTRY’S GREATEST CHALLENGE?
Changing buyer demographics and fast-expanding technology. The industry will have to evolve and change more quickly to keep up. Plus, being prepared for more extreme and catastrophic weather events.
AND FINALLY, TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU WHICH PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN
I can’t click my fingers