Danielle Treharne

Danielle Treharne | BIMA

I have always had a passion for driving positive social impact through sustainable business. Starting my career in strategy consulting at Javelin Group, I supported blue-chip and private equity clients including M&S, Gucci Group, Bridgepoint, and Galeries Lafayette, working across Europe, Ukraine, Turkey and the US. Through this work, I became convinced of the fundamental need for customer-centricity to be at the core of a company's DNA; in order to have a sustainable operation, businesses must continuously question whether they are serving - and delighting - their customers.

Wishing to combine commercial acumen with positive social change, I moved to DR Congo at the age of 28 to run the largest UK government-funded programme of its kind; through Project Élan, we worked within six sectors of the Congolese economy, ultimately driving sustainable change for over 1 million low-income Congolese people.

In Uganda, I was the first BIMA employee on the ground, setting up the mobile phone-delivered health and life microinsurance business from scratch, and responsible for its entire legal and operational setup. Over the subsequent two years, I scaled the operation to a headcount of ninety young Ugandans, and ensured that hundreds of our customers' claims were paid, supporting them in their time of need.

I am now Business Development Manager for Africa, responsible for growing our geographical footprint and bring financial protection to previously under-served customers across the African continent.

I hold a First Class BA (Hons) in Modern Languages (French, Italian) from The University of Oxford.


Samantha Eustace

Samantha Eustace | Zurich Insurance

Back in 2015, I joined the Insurance Industry on an Operations and Underwriting Apprenticeship at Zurich. Having been approached by a recruiter, offered an interview and being successful in the process, I left A-Levels after just 1 year to complete my Apprenticeship with the sight that I wanted to work and learn whilst doing so. I have spoken openly about my apprenticeship many times to the media, and always say that it was scary to start with - being a little fish in a big corporate pond, but I have had many a chance to prove myself. At the age of just 20, I feel that I have already started to make my mark in the industry.

In 2016 I was named Insurance Apprentice of the Year in the Insurance Time Awards. This came after a years hard work in my new role working alongside global commercial underwriters in the London Market. In 2016 I passed my three exams over the space of 8 months to achieve my Cert CII qualification. During my apprenticeship, I also completed 58 pieces of coursework, and 2 final assessment interviews to be rewarded at the end of 18 months with a Distinction in Providing Financial Services.

For the last 6 months of my Apprenticeship, I took on a Project role in a transition piece in the UK. The role included me training and supporting a new team of individuals whilst measuring their KPIs and improving the efficiency of working through methods such as offshoring.

Back in August 2017, I was ready for a new challenge and that came in the form of my current role in Uk Corporate Affairs. Now, in my day job, I am covering: Public Affairs, Media Relations (PR), Corporate Social Responsibilities and Communications. Much of my work is engaging with key internal, industry, trade body, political and other external stakeholders.

Last year, I mentored a student as part of a programme to support disabled and disadvantaged young people. During our time together, I support their development in communication skills, confidence in dealing with people, how to tackle challenges whilst also supporting in producing a CV and practicing interview skills. My mentee then gained a place in a college to study towards their goal of becoming a car mechanic.

I spend many hours volunteering at schools around my local area, London and Farnborough. I go into schools and teach a variety of ages of students about Financial Literacy, Employability skills, Insurance, CV writing and Interview skills. During my time with the schools, I have also mentored young female talent to encourage them to enter a STEM related career (students who are already studying towards this).

In London, I am a part of our local Zurich Cares Charity committee, helping us raise funds for our local partners (5 charities who benefit our local area such as Mind in Harringay). I also take it upon myself to take on challenges for the Zurich Community Trust to raise money towards our national partners. This year, I am doing the Prudential Ride London 100mile bike ride and aiming to raise £500 to go towards some of our partners work such as the Diana Awards Anti-bullying campaign.
Internally, I am a part of the Zurich Women's innovation Network who support the workplace in promoting diversity within gender and allowing for more training and facilities to better place yourself in your career. I am the Regional Head for our network, managing the 10 regional committees across the UK who conduct a variety of work to promote the networks objectives. I am also the Co-Chair of our London committee, and the communications and external network lead in our Networking and Influencing Pillar.

Another internal piece of work is my new initiative 'Ride the Railway'. A scheme I devised which supports employees in the UK organisation to develop their skills, skillshare, and break down silos by being able to spend time work shadowing and gaining insights into other areas of the organisation. I launched this scheme after approval from our CEO Tulsi, with support from then UK head of HR Georgina Farrell and UK Head of Talent, Tara Hutton back in December 2017. The scheme has seen over 200 employees experience other teams and has become a BAU operation supported by the HR function. I manage the working committee who keep the initiative running.

Externally, I am communications lead for the Insurance Industry Gender Inclusion Network - made up of the major insurers and brokers in the UK. I manage our website, communications, mailing, marketing and external stakeholder engagement.
Alongside this, I am Chair and Founder of the first UK insurance apprenticeship network - ASSET.


Natalie Bate

Natalie Bate | Zurich Insurance

I started my career with Zurich in 2014 as part of the Graduate Development Programme after graduating from Cambridge in Modern and Medieval Languages. During the 18 month programme, I spent time with Glasgow Claims, Birmingham Product Underwriting, and Intermediary Services in the Life business. I finished the programme in July 2016 and joined the Leeds Claims management team.

At university, I studied French and Spanish (language and literature) and spent my third year in Spanish-speaking countries. I spent 4 months in Peru volunteering in local schools to support children’s education and a further 9 months working in Barcelona, firstly as a translation intern and secondly as the Personal / Strategic Assistant to the founder of a family law firm.


Sally Blake

Sally Blake | Zurich Insurance

A former General Management Graduate, Sally is currently working as a Business Analyst in Zurich’s Claims Business Improvement Team. Since joining the team in last year, Sally has led several automation initiatives, and now focuses on strategy and cultural transformation.

Sally joined Zurich in April 2014 as a Panel Analysis Manager in the Technical Centre, having previously worked at the Wessex Group as a Cash Plan Claims Assessor. During the Graduate Programme, Sally undertook rotations in Global Corporate Claims, Personal Lines and Financial Lines Underwriting, before returning to claims as a Motor Claims Technician.

Prior to working in Insurance, Sally completed a BSc in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, and an MSc in Forensic Archaeological Science at UCL.

Having obtained her ACII within 11 months, and Fellowship Status within 18 months, has successfully secured a Women in Business Scholarship to study for an Executive MBA at Cass Business School. Sally acts as a mentor and representative for the CII and is the Chair of the Disability Inclusion Network in the UK. Since joining Zurich, Sally has participated in a number of projects, including an investigation into Zurich’s Claims Proposition to Disabled Customers, and a report on Cognitive Computing in Claims.

Outside of work, Sally enjoys running, and classical and choral singing, regularly taking part in concerts.


Jennifer Kested

Jennifer Kested | AIG

Jennifer Kested earned a B.A. in International Relations, Public Policy and African Studies from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and is currently leading the Communication and Renaming strategy and delivery for AIG Europe Ltd’s Brexit Program. She has split her career between New York and London, and most recently relocated to London for her role securing AEL’s readiness for Brexit including one of the largest communication campaigns in UK insurance industry. Jennifer began her insurance career as a project manager leading major restructuring projects in AIG’s New York office, including restructuring the organization at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.

In 2017, she was accepted to and completed an intensive program at Harvard University focusing on leadership, strategy, communication, finance and innovation. In 2014, Jennifer was nominated and accepted to AIG Europe Ltd’s Emerging Leaders Program aimed at identifying future organization leaders and over the course of a year, immersing them in experiential projects and business engagements to develop and enhance their skills.

Jennifer has made a big impact on AIG Europe Ltd’s footprint, previously running the Finance Transformations which restructured the entirety of the Finance department, establishing accounting centers first across Europe and then establishing a presence in India to optimize processes and reporting abilities for the company. During her recent time in New York, she was responsible for the Finance Robotics and Digitization program which led to the first fully automated robot at AIG.

Outside of her professional obligations, Jennifer is an advocate for girls and young women, acting as a mentor for the Girls’ Network. She feels strongly about supporting diversity and is a member of employee resource groups supporting AIG’s professional women’s network and the as an ally to the STEP (Support, Talent, Educate, Partner) LGBT group. She has also participated as a mentor in the 2016 Women of the World festival at the Southbank Centre in London. Jennifer enjoys fitness challenges and previously participated in a charity cycle from London to Brussels to benefit Brainwave Charity.


Akshara Venkatesh

Akshara Venkatesh | Deloitte

After achieving a First in Engineering, Economics and Management at Oxford, I began my career in Technology before switching my focus to insurance and pursuing my actuarial qualification. I quickly built up insurance technical expertise and took on challenging roles at top clients. I received three internal awards for my contributions and now lead a global reserving transformation project.

I’m fascinated by the insurance sector and actively seek opportunities to broaden my knowledge and network. I supported the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as a member of the Modelling, Analytics and Insights from Data research group, helping to identify impacts on insurance of key trends such as machine learning. I’m also an active member of the Next Generation Insurance Network.

I am passionate about creating an inclusive environment and empowering people to achieve their potential. I co-lead the firm’s Multicultural Network and have successfully delivered 40+ events for our 600+ members. Initiatives I have led include: access to role models through senior leader webinars, implementing a mentoring programme, organising many joint client events and innovative training offerings such as public-speaking theatre workshops.


Amy Breakspear

Amy Breakspear | Zurich Insurance

Having grown up in a small Wiltshire town and attending the local secondary school I graduated from Henley Business School in 2012 with a first class honours degree in Business Management. I proactively deferred the final year of my degree to undertake a six month internship at Zurich and when I returned to complete my final year I successfully achieved a place on Zurich’s Future Leaders graduate programme.

Four six month rotations around Zurich’s life business flew by and enabled me to gain a broad understanding of the large organisation and a great network of colleagues. For the following year I developed my investments knowledge on a funds process improvement project before joining Zurich’s corporate pension team as a Commercial Consultant. In this role I focussed on progressing my technical and operational knowledge before beginning a new challenge in Zurich’s D2C team as a Distribution Manager in July last year.

I thrive from operating in a corporate culture where I can really make a difference to people’s lives – both through my role in insurance and as an individual. I have high standards and put pressure on myself to deliver work I am really proud of, and I place importance on forming relationships with colleagues to drive collaboration and make work enjoyable. I love to get involved in the detail of things but I also have the ability to ‘zoom out’ and view situations broadly and from a variety of perspectives.

I’m passionate about continued development and have sought various learning opportunities outside of my role. I’ve recently become qualified to give retail investment advice through completing the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, which I am immensely proud of.

I have been a member of Zurich’s employee forum since 2013, representing Zurich employees (in general) in legal consultations and during management decisions and policy changes. I was chosen in 2016 to annually represent the UK at Zurich’s European Forum in Switzerland and bring valuable learnings back to the UK.

I have been a member of Zurich Community Trust’s grant committee in Cheltenham for a number of years where I was involved in assessing applications for funding and visiting charities to award small grants.

I represented Zurich at Business in the Community’s careers fair for local secondary schools and I attend my secondary school’s annual STEM careers day to talk about Zurich and, more broadly, increase engagement for the insurance and financial services industry. I currently volunteer as a programme partner for Zurich’s participation in Women Ahead’s 30% Club cross-industry mentoring scheme.

When I’m not at work I enjoy open water swimming, sprint triathlons, good food and wine.


Jane Harley

Jane Harley | Lloyd's

I first entered the world of insurance 4 years ago after obtaining my First Class Honours Degree in Business Studies & Finance at Glasgow Caledonian University. A move to London saw me start my career as a Lloyd’s Graduate on their generalist scheme. During these 18 months I obtained a variety of experience and exposure within underwriting, claims and oversight from numerous departments within Lloyd’s. Following completion of this scheme, I was offered & accepted a role within Lloyd’s Delegated Authorities team. During my 3 years within the team I have progressed from my previous initial role of Compliance Coordinator to Compliance Manager; this was obtained in October 2017. My current role involves pioneering and implementing a new central solution for coverholder compliance information on behalf of the Lloyd’s market. This initiative built on a pilot I established previously with 20 complex coverholders that identified the benefits of having a centralised, streamlined solution for compliance requirements. As a manager I manage a team consisting of internal employees and external contractors, with all of my direct reports being older than me. This can often be both challenging and rewarding through having a diverse team. This compliance solution marks a significant change in the dynamics between Lloyd’s and its coverholders.


Ella Walters

Ella Walters | PwC

I joined PwC Assurance in Bristol in 2014 with a determination to do well and affect positive change. Having attended a failing state school, and seen the difference in outcomes from amongst my peers, I have had a long commitment to equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion. And at university, I tutored for and coordinated the Team Up mentoring charity, organising university students to tutor local pupils on free school meals in core subjects.

As part of the PwC graduate scheme, I gained experience across multiple sectors in both internal and external audit. My stand-out contributions included high-impact internal audit engagements (in one instance a member of staff was appointed for a year to implement my recommendations from a week-long review) and my work on highly complex financial services external audit engagements. However, I was also keen to continue having a positive social impact and develop my leadership skills, which I did through taking on additional roles. In my first year, for instance, I wrote the business case for, and set up a Centre for Social Impact with a director. This became the PwC Social Entrepreneur’s Club, through which we continue to support, mentor and coach local social enterprises.

In 2017 I moved to London, choosing to fully specialise in Insurance Internal Audit. This has given me the opportunity to develop deeper technical understanding, work with some fascinating financial services clients and gain a national perspective on PwC as a business itself. This has benefited me this year in my role as the pathway lead on our Internal Audit target operating model programme, through which I am leading transformational change in our recruitment, skills and training as a national business.

I was also selected as the 2017 UK PwC Assurance representative at One Young World, a global young leaders’ summit with 1500 young people from 194 countries. I came back from the summit particularly determined to help staff to better connect with the purpose of their work and fulfil their personal and social purpose at PwC. I also set up a reverse mentoring initiative within the Insurance business with the aim of increasing the diversity of leadership ideas and reducing unconscious bias at a leadership level. Based on the success of my reverse mentoring pilot, it has been rolled out further this year.


Theodora Backhouse

Theodora Backhouse | Ed Broking LLP

Theo is a broker in the Ed Reinsurance Division. Prior to joining the company in September 2015 on the graduate scheme, Theo worked on new business development for the leading UK mannequin designer and manufacturer alongside graduating from the Gemmological Association of Britain with a Diamond Diploma.

Theo graduated from the University of Manchester in 2013 with a History of Art and Spanish degree.