Break­ing Down Walls

Digital Insurance - - COVER STORY - By Rob Leni­han

If you’re look­ing for Kath­leen Rear­don, CEO of Ber­muda-based Hamil­ton Re, you prob­a­bly won’t nd her in an o ce — be­cause she doesn’t have one. While the com­pany does have a con­fer­ence rooms, ev­ery­body usu­ally sits to­gether in an open- oor set­ting—chief ex­ec­u­tive in­cluded.

“It gets rid of any hi­er­ar­chy,” Rear­don says. “We’re all in this to­gether. Your voice as a young pro­fes­sional just en­ter­ing the busi­ness is heard. I’m happy to lis­ten to you and hear your opin­ion.”

Rear­don, a mem­ber of the com­pany’s found­ing man­age­ment team, says her goals are to be ap­proach­able and in­clu­sive.

“I’m con­stantly think­ing of ways to chal­lenge the em­ploy­ees.” she said, “Some­body was al­ways look­ing af­ter me to reach my full po­ten­tial, whether it had been an ad­vo­cate, a men­tor, or a boss, and I want to make sure peo­ple have enough op­por­tu­nity to show theirs.”

To that end, Rear­don has cre­ated sev­eral think tanks at Hamil­ton Re to tackle is­sues like in­no­va­tion and emerg­ing risk. The com­pany is also a pro­po­nent of In­sur­ance Ca­reers Month, a cross-in­dus­try re­cruit­ment ini­tia­tive.

“I take a per­sonal in­ter­est in my em­ployee’s ca­reer de­vel­op­ment,” she says. “It takes a lot of e ort, but I be­lieve it’s that im­por­tant.”

Rear­don, who grew up in Philadel­phia, was in­tro­duced to ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence in high school and pur­sued it through her univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion. She went to work for Cigna’s P&C unit un­til 1999, when ACE bought the group and she re­lo­cated to Ber­muda. Rear­don moved to the rein­sur­ance side of the busi­ness af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005.

From 2005 to 2012, she was chief un­der­writ­ing o cer and se­nior vice pres­i­dent for Ace Tem­pest Re Ltd.’s Ber­muda in­ter­na­tional prop­erty catas­tro­phe rein­sur­ance busi­ness.

In April 2014, Rear­don was hired as CEO of Hamil­ton Re, a nascent rein­sur­ance com­pany formed only the year be­fore by for­mer Marsh and McLen­nan CEO Brian Du­per­reault. Un­der her lead­er­ship, she has dou­bled the share­holder eq­uity in Hamil­ton Re to $1.6 bil­lion.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing to come into a mar­ket with a blank piece of pa­per and have a chance to start from scratch with no le­gacy, no culture that might hold you back,” she says.

But at the same time she is work­ing to build a new in­sur­ance com­pany at a time when the in­dus­try is be­ing re­shaped by tech­nolo y and data sci­ence, Rear­don also notes that in­sur­ance is in the midst of a tal­ent cri­sis that sees ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple leav­ing the in­dus­try faster than young pro­fes­sion­als can re­place them. Over her ca­reer, Rear­don has seen more se­nior women in the in­dus­try, and be­lieves that women bring unique per­spec­tives to the ex­ec­u­tive ta­ble. That cre­ates a unique op­por­tu­nity, she says.

“Maybe we’re at a tip­ping point,” she said, “but if you look at any of the re­search, you will still see that women are un­der­rep­re­sented at the se­nior ex­ec­u­tive level. It is, how­ever, be­ing ac­knowl­edged as an is­sue.”

Rear­don co-founded Women in Rein­sur­ance about 10 years ago, a group she now chairs. And, Lloyd’s CEO Inga Beale chose her to lead the global ex­pan­sion of her “Dive In Fes­ti­val of Di­ver­sity In­clu­sion” in Ber­muda. Rear­don said the pro­gram stresses the need for the in­dus­try to ac­knowl­edge “the di er­ences among us and, ul­ti­mately, the con­sumer.”

“We don’t want to miss out on po­ten­tial tal­ent be­cause of some se­lec­tion process that the re­sume went through be­fore they even reached the door,” she says.

This in­cludes be­ing hon­est with your­self as a re­cruiter, Rear­don said, and see­ing if there’s anything you’re do­ing un­know­ingly that’s caus­ing ho­mo­gene­ity in the hir­ing process.

“Just chal­leng­ing your­self and chal­leng­ing your team to think a lit­tle bit fur­ther on that could go a long way,” she says.

Kath­leen Rear­don,

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Hamil­ton Re

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