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Senior Vp, Excess Liability Division
ACE Bermuda Insurance Ltd.
Charged with managing ACE Bermuda’s excess liability division since 2004, Judy Gonsalves was the first Bermudian woman to reach that level in the company’s Bermuda-based insurance operations. She started her career with ACE 16 years ago as underwriting assistant in the same division. To ensure the advancement of other employees, Ms. Gonsalves has been responsible for the management and coordination of the underwriter trainee program at ACE. She cultivates a learning culture through benchmarking, team building, strategic planning, learning exchanges, process improvement, and coaching. She serves on the ACE USA Learning Council and the Liability Product Board and was a member of the original steering committee for the ACE Women’s Forum. She is actively involved in the ACE Women’s Forum Networking Committee in Bermuda.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY: "(After acquiring multiple degrees in economics and psychology) I had plans to take a year off (from studying) and then go back to graduate school. I figured I’d come back to Bermuda and work for a year and make some money. Within a couple of days I had about 10 interviews and they were all with insurance companies. I didn’t know anything about the industry and what careers were available. I started in the (American International Group Inc.) captive fronting division. I did an in-house training program with (the company) and then started my insurance qualifications. After awhile, I thought, “I’m making money and I’m liking insurance from the learning and studying perspective, so I’ll stick this out and put grad school on hold.” Then, after three years with AIG, I got a call from ACE looking for an assistant underwriter in the excess liability division. I interviewed with them, got the job, and the rest is all history."
THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED: "The best quality in an underwriter is to be curious. I thought that was a great piece of advice. If you’re curious about things and you want to learn about things, you’re going to ask questions and you’re going to learn more. Don’t ever let your fear of failing prevent you from trying something or limit what you’re going to accomplish. Don’t let that fear of failing keep you from pushing yourself."
ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY: "Be patient. It’s hard sometimes when starting out to be patient, but it takes time. Not everyone can run the company at the same time. Be patient for the growth, the promotions and the development. You need to show you’re working hard and it’s deserved and it will come. Take some risks along the way in your career. If the opportunity comes up for you to move into another role—something that is out of your comfort zone—jump at it and jump at it when it’s offered. Seize opportunities when they come along. Sometimes you take a risk in doing that, but a lot of times that brings some pretty positive things your way."
WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY WHILE GROWING UP: "I actually wanted to be one of two things—a lawyer, or a psychiatrist or counselor or social work type. In hindsight, both are kind of helping professions. I don’t know if I thought that at the time. I’ve always loved watching courtroom dramas. I thought I would be a criminal lawyer and save the world and defend the downtrodden. With psychology, I loved to dissect things, why people think the way they do, feel the way they do, and do what they do."
Business Insurance’s Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify some of the women who do outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk management,employee benefits and related fields.