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.
Sarah Smith

Today, we’d like you to meet Sarah Smith, Charity Underwriting Manager in UK Retail.

Tell us about your pathway into the industry

This year is my 20th anniversary working in insurance.

I had two passions in life growing up, Art and Mathematics / Numbers / Statistics. As much as I’d have loved to have had a career as an Artist I went down the financial route and applied for my first job at a general insurance company underwriting which saw me putting my knowledge and passion for probability, statistics and numbers to very good use.

I was given an opportunity after 5 years to become a sector expert in Charities and the Voluntary sector and that is when I realised insurance was the right industry for me. Several years later I was approached by Gallagher to join their Charity & Healthcare Division as an Account Executive, moving from underwriting to broking.

My present role is the Charity Underwriting Manager sitting UK Retail, I manage a team of 12 people who work with brokers to create robust and comprehensive insurance programmes to assist Charities in protecting themselves should the worse happen.

Is my passion for Art still there? Absolutely, though I don’t get to paint and draw as much as I’d like these days.

Describe what you like most about Gallagher in five words

Professionalism, Integrity, Passion, Teamwork, Community Spirit (I know that is two words!)

What’s been your career highlight to date?

Building up my team from just me to 12 people and seeing those individuals grow and flourish in their roles. Gallagher is a great advocate for internal development and growth and over the last 3 years I have been able to internally promote 4 people within my team, helping them to achieve their own career aspirations.

Every day I also get to help Charities and Voluntary organisations, working with brokers, to give them best advice, to save them money which rather than spending on insurance they can spend on their invaluable service provision or by spotting gaps or issues with their present insurance arrangements – that you can’t put a price on. That is a daily highlight.

What excites you about the industry?

How diverse it is, how many opportunities there are if you are willing to work hard and get involved and how forward thinking it can be whilst never forgetting its roots and history. It will always be a people business but using advancing technology and tools to improve the customer journey and outcome is exciting.

How is Gallagher helping you face your future with confidence?

Gallagher is a progressive, forward-thinking organisation. It’s given me the confidence to create a role and team which I knew could add value. I believe in making your own opportunities and Gallagher is a place which encourages this, it embraces diversity and the need for flexibility based on individual’s personal circumstances which gives everyone an equal footing and platform from which to progress.

I was lucky enough to be part of the UK Leadership programme recently and know we have some great individuals coming through across the whole group; the future is certainly bright.

Your inspiration?

My mother and grandmother. I was fortunate enough to grow up with very strong female role models both of whom made it perfectly clear I could be and do whatever I wanted and that there was no such thing as a glass ceiling.

At present it is my sister who is a Deputy Head Teacher for a secondary School in Birmingham. It is so important that young people are supported developed, nurtured and educated around industry and the opportunities available to them in the workplace. Leading a career discussion in her school on Insurance was one of the hardest things I have done in recent times; the fact she mentors and leads the next generation every day is astounding.