As part of International Women’s Day (8 March 2020), we are showcasing several female colleagues - read about their passion for our industry, how Gallagher is helping them face their future with confidence, and their commitments to supporting gender equality.
Michelle Wood

Tell us about your role at Gallagher

Well, my role is certainly varied! As Operations Director, my core objective in its simplest form is to make sure the office runs as smoothly as possible - I am often described as ‘the glue that holds it together’.

I suppose my role can be categorised typically into People, Operations, Budgets, Project Delivery and Strategy so no two days are ever the same.

I was appointed to the senior Management Team in 2017 and I share the responsibility in setting the future strategic direction of our office to drive growth, change and continuous improvement to ensure that we remain sustainable.

Tell us about your pathway into the industry

I didn’t enjoy the rigidity of the education system so on completion, I didn’t progress to University (I was more interested in earning money!) so I secured my first job as a Junior Technical Drawing assistant for a design engineering consultancy.

My first real conscious career decision was when I was aged 20 and became interested in human behaviours so I started building a career in HR. Overall, I spent approximately 16 years in the industry - it was during this time that I started a family.

In 2006, I left the rat-race behind and set up my own business as a self-employed Performance Coach/Consultant. I navigated the financial crash of 2008 relatively unscathed but I wanted employment stability and so joined Gallagher in 2010 as an Executive Assistant. Using the diverse range of skills I had built over many years, identifying opportunities where I could add value and, a lot of hard work, I quickly progressed and now hold the role of Operations Director.

Describe what you like most about Gallagher in five words

Challenging, intense, rewarding, professional, fun.

What’s been your career highlight to date?

I’ve had so many great opportunities in my career so it’s difficult to choose just one. At Gallagher, project managing our office refurbishment, managing a senior succession plan and transformational change process, being appointed to the senior Management Team and being recognised on the Leadership programme as well as receiving approval for GCAP UK have been the most stand out moments to date.

What excites you about the industry?

I don’t have a typical background in insurance so it’s still all very exciting for me, even after 10 years – the industry is always evolving and with it are the opportunities available to develop career paths and learn new skills – technology is driving our industry forward so we need to embrace it - it’s a great place for anyone to be in no matter what stage of their career they’re at.

How is Gallagher helping women face their future with confidence?

If we are to effect change, we need to make sure that aspiring females see themselves in our current industry and leadership team – mentoring and coaching is a great start but we can do more. We have some great female leaders across the business, increasing their visibility in our business will provide the aspiration and desire for the next generation of female leaders to believe that they too can succeed in our business.

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’?

I believe the dial is already moving – as mentioned earlier, the insurance industry is evolving and more and more women are being tempted by the flexibility and diversity in roles, away from the traditional role of a broker which is predominantly male, that this change brings. With technological advancements in the industry, it is only a matter of time before we see this new tranche of female talent in leadership roles.

Your inspiration?

Inspiration comes in many forms but it is my motivation and determination that drives me to succeed.