Following International Women’s Day (8 March 2019), we’ve been running a month-long series and placing some of our Gallagher women ‘In Focus’.
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Women in Focus Susan Young

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. Today, we’d like you to meet Susan Young.

Tell us about your role at Gallagher

As managing director of Gallagher’s UK private clients business, I have a nationwide team of 130 colleagues spread across 20 different branches. I’m also the head of the 40-strong Irvine branch in Scotland, where last year we celebrated serving the local community as its insurance broker for 50 years by investing in new offices in the heart of the town

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

My first ever job was as a Saturday sales assistant at a clothing store, where I learned just how much people love a discount, great price and good value

Did you have a childhood career ambition — and are you prepared to share it?

Fair to say I swung between wanting to become a teacher and a policewoman….

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

Chance - my career in broking unexpectedly began when I took a year out from studying for an Economics degree and enjoyed it so much I never went back. Business rather than academia was definitely the right choice for me. Within two years I was promoted to manage the renewals department - the youngest manager anywhere in the business at that time - and I’ve never looked back. I still love it.

What excites you most about the industry?

It’s ever-changing and constantly evolving in all but one important area - insurance broking remains resolutely centred on people and relationships

What has been your career highlight so far?

I have two. One is bringing together four separate and previously competing private client businesses, post-acquisition, and seeing them start acting as one team, all wearing the Gallagher ‘jersey’ with a common goal. The other is being part of the fundraising team that managed to raise over £500,000 for the Ayrshire Hospice

What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self or offer to those just starting out on their careers?

Find your own leadership style. Don’t try to copy others, it will only appear fake. Closely followed by: “Always stay honest, humble and kind - but wear good shoes.” My own little twist on a Tim McGraw song lyric….

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’?

Encourage and mentor young women in the industry to believe they can be the CEO as long as they work hard and believe in themselves. Confidence is key.

Describe what you like most about Gallagher in 5 words….

Integrity, opportunity, respected, non-hierarchic al - it’s The Gallagher Way

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

Amazon or Google moving strongly into the space

Which three inspirational famous people — past & present — would you invite to a strategic offsite to devise a plan to overcome the industry’s biggest challenges, and why?

Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs and Michelle Obama - not just because of their achievements and inspirational leadership, but because they’re all pretty cool too

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

I won a bronze medal at the Scottish gymnastics championships many moons ago and, every now and again, do the splits as a party piece….