S4 EP33: Empowering women and building a sense of belonging – Rachel Pollack, Chief People Officer, QBE North America

“We’ve set ourselves ambitions to have 40% of women in leadership by 2025. You’ve got to do a lot over many years. It is not a short term change. We’ve got a range of programs throughout the employee life cycle”, says Rachel.

“For us it’s not just about diversity. It’s also about inclusion. We want to make sure we have less than 5% variation in people’s sense of belonging no matter what part of the business they come from or their gender, race, ethnicity, disability status.”

QBE North America’s Chief People Officer highlights her early career in transformation and change in FMCG and banking, before joining QBE 14 years ago. 

“Coming from a change management background, I saw that the insurance industry was ripe for transformation. It was a deliberate choice to step into insurance. It’s been an exciting place to be.”

Rachel shares the variety of roles she’s held and the move from her native Australia to heading up the insurance business’ people function in New York.

With 3000 team members in North America, Rachel gives insight in to QBE’s North America’s core product lines – Specialty, Commercial and Crop – as well some of the cultural differences in a business operating across the globe.

“Headquartered globally in Sydney, my prior roles were global, so I’m used to working with the differences that a global organisation needs to navigate to be successful.”

Rachel outlines QBE’s Employee Value Proposition.

“We asked ourselves, ‘why do people want to come work with us? Why do they want to stay with us?’ We took a really employee centric approach to answering those questions. We now have an Employee Promise as we like to call it.  For us it’s around three major areas. Being the right size, building momentum and the power of ‘We’.”

She shares the drive and desire within the organization to empower and develop women at all levels of the business. From interns and campus programmes to Women in Agriculture and Julie Wood’s appointment as the first female CEO of the North America business.

In terms of interview advice for insurance executives coming for interview, Rachel says, “This is around authenticity. We want to know who you are. Bring your best self to work, share who you are and what makes you unique and special.”

For that to happen, Rachel believes it’s key for insurance hiring managers to make candidates feel comfortable in an interview.  

Rachel emphasizes what QBE look for when partnering with an executive search business . She shares the partnership the business has with Workday to support HR processes around the globe.

As for the one lesson her career has taught her, Rachel concludes,

“Love what you do. We spend so much of our time at work. You’ve got be fulfilled by what you do. When you love what you do and put your passion into it, you’ll normally shine.”

Connect with Rachel Pollack on LinkedIn or find out more about QBE North America.

The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO of Insurance Search.

Insurance Search is a global Executive Search Consultancy, supporting Insurance and Insurtech businesses with Critical Hires, Executive Search and Market Intelligence Services.

To discuss identifying & attracting the very best insurance talent to your team or being a guest on the Insurance Coffee House Podcast, reach out to Nick via nick.hoadley@insurance-search.com

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