Following International Women’s Day (8 March 2019), we’re continuing our month-long series of placing some of our Gallagher women ‘In Focus’.

From apprentices and team leaders to divisional leaders and Executive Committee members, we wanted to showcase some of our great talent but also highlight the diverse range of opportunities and specialist areas a career at Gallagher can offer. We’re now pleased to introduce you to Samantha Thompson.

Tell us a little about your role at Gallagher

I’m the Operations and Business Strategy Director for London Property, Casualty and Specialty team in Capsicum Re.

What was your very first job and what did that teach you?

My first job was in Willis Re in their Aviation Reinsurance team as an Account Handler. It was a steep learning curve as I went straight from school at 18 years old to a corporate environment. The best thing I learnt was how to properly deal with colleagues and clients in a professional manner as well as the fundamentals of our business.

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

I always wanted to be a lawyer – 2 weeks in a solicitor’s office for work experience quickly killed those ambitions!

How did you come to work in risk management & insurance: choice or chance?

Chance – I was on a gap year; my Uncle worked in Willis Re office and he got me an interview for a ‘temporary position’. Fifteen years later and I guess I should concede it’s no longer temporary!

What excites you most about the industry?

The thing I have always liked the most is that after the absolute worse situations arise, we help people put their lives back together again. There is something tangible about what we do.

What has been your career highlight so far?

Being made a Partner within Capsicum Re, I was the only female partner out of the original 30 partners.

What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self or offer to someone starting out in their career?

When a crisis arises, at the time, it feels like the end of the world. Upon reflection, it really is 10% unpleasant and 90% a lesson learned.

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’?

Better mentoring for women by people in senior positions, more senior people being ‘champions’ to good women in the business. Better maternity and paternity cover for parents. More support with flexible working, including a stellar IT system to support remote working.

Describe what you like most about Gallagher in 5 words…

It wants to create real change. (sorry, 6 words!).

What do you see as the industry’s greatest challenge?

Getting past age old stereotypical views and away from the ‘old boys club’ mentality that has driven our business for the last 400 years.

Which three inspirational famous people — past & present — would you invite to a strategic offsite to devise a plan to overcome that challenge, and why?

  • Gina Miller – an exceptional modern female business leader
  • Emmeline Pankhurst – the work she did for the original feminist cause, getting the right to vote, I am sure we could learn a lot from her!
  • Inga Beale – a pioneering, successful female in our industry. I would love to hear her thoughts on this important subject.

And finally, tell us something about you which people might be surprised to learn

I made the appalling decision aged 16 years old to have a tattoo of ‘Tinkerbell’. Obviously about 20 minutes after said decision and tattoo application, I regretted it immediately. I then had to have 10 very expensive and painful sessions to get the tattoo removed. There is still the slightest remnants of it when I get a suntan!