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Sarah Turvill has spent all of her 28 years in the brokerage sector working for Willis, which she joined in 1978 as an in-house lawyer. During her time at Willis, Ms. Turvill was an instrumental member of the team that built the European network of Willis Group Ltd. in the 1990s. Ms. Turvill also led the team that obtained a license to trade in China through a joint venture company, Willis Pudong Insurance Brokers. Ms. Turvill in 2001 became chief executive of Willis International in 2001, where she is responsible for 34 subsidiary companies with total revenue of $447 million and more than 3,800 employees.
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "The perception that (the industry) is really rather dull."
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "I would say three things. I think that they should consider focusing their career on the broker side internationally rather than in the London market where there is still a considerable macho culture. I think they should celebrate the fact that they are women and be utterly confident that there is no job that they should not aspire to. I think that they should make sure that they have or will have excellent childcare provisions."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "Several people have had a considerable influence: My father, who worked at Willis and seemed to me to have an interesting and indeed exciting international career; Graham White who took a brave step in believing there might be a role for a lawyer in Willis and recruiting me; and, of course, Joe Plumeri, who is an outstanding role model and mentor."
Business Insurance's report on "Women to Watch" is our attempt to identify some of the women who are leading change in commercial insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.