Hylant’s Anne Marie Towle, Global Captive Solutions Leader, was recently named one of Business Insurance magazine’s 2019 Women to Watch. Here, she reflects on her career and offers advice to women in or thinking about joining the insurance industry.
Q: Congratulations on being named to this year’s Women to Watch list, Anne Marie! Why did you decide on a career in insurance?
A: Originally, I started out in tax and accounting. At a certain point in my career, the next opportunity would have been to become a partner in a firm, but I realized something: I wasn’t interested in pursuing that path. The type of work I would have had to do bored me. So, I thought about what areas of tax and accounting I enjoyed and how I could build on that to create a new opportunity. I enjoyed working with captive insurance companies, so I shifted my focus and forged a new career path in insurance working with a global broker. It’s part of what I call my “lifetime of learning.”
Q: You’ve been very successful in the insurance industry. Do you think that women in general have qualities that can make them successful in this field?
A: I do. I think that caretaking, multitasking and project managing are built into our DNA. We see a need, envision a response and execute on it by seeing it through. It’s not that different from taking care of a client, right? We see a problem or opportunity, develop and implement a plan, and then follow through on all the details to deliver great results to the client. It’s natural.
Q: Have mentors played a role in your career?
A: Definitely. Nobody succeeds alone, and I’ve had both great male and female mentors. One such mentor was my tax professor in college. She really took time to help students like me match their passions to their education and career paths. Then later, after I started my career in insurance, a female colleague was instrumental in helping me learn how to work effectively in what was then a man’s world. She taught me to speak the language and really advocate for myself.
Q: What challenges, if any, do you think women in insurance face, particularly if they aspire to leadership positions?
A: Women are still in many ways the primary caregivers, they’re working full time, and under any conditions, being a leader is challenging. It’s tough. I believe many strides have been taken over the course of my career, but I’d like to see more flexibility and value of talented women leaders in the workplace. For example, I think it’s possible to work in a virtual environment. I want someone with talent and a great work ethic on my team, even if that person can’t work in the office every day.
Q: What advice do you have for women who want to advance into leadership positions in insurance or any industry?
A: Don’t wait to be noticed! Raise your hand and use your voice. Women don’t do this enough. If you want to be challenged, say so. If you have an idea, promote it. Seek out new roles and push yourself to learn a lot of different facets of the business. It’s also important to constantly widen your network. Get involved in associations. Connect with your peers. Seek out opportunities to be a mentor as well as a mentee. Opportunities you never expected can arise when you do this. The bigger your network, the better off you’ll be.
Connect with Anne Marie on LinkedIn or at Anne.Marie.Towle@Hylant.com.