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Karen O'Reilly

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Karen O'Reilly

Staff Officer
Chartis Global Property
New York
Age: 54

Karen O'Reilly recently assumed the role of staff officer for Chartis Global Property. In this new role, she is charged with establishing an operating foundation for the newly organized global property team, ensuring prioritization of strategic issues and sharing of information across all segments of Property. Prior to September, Ms. O'Reilly was vp and chief innovation officer Lexington Insurance Co., a unit of Chartis Inc. In that capacity, she led the development and introduction of an average of 10 new products each year. Within the past three years, and as a direct result of Ms. O'Reilly's leadership, Lexington introduced products that respond to the emerging exposures around nanotechnology, the developing carbon credit market and investment tax credits in alternative energy. She has a bachelor's degree in science and a master's degree in business administration, and she holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?

I would suggest they work hard to gain and maintain technical skills, while also developing the soft skills they will need to negotiate and influence. The insurance industry is going to become increasingly technical and analytical, and I think you need those skills to succeed. At the same time, the industry is always going to be about relationships, so being able to influence and effectively negotiate is also important.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?

Change is inevitable, and it's easier if you just accept that and embrace that and find where the opportunity will be in the change.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?

I don't think that I had a mentor in the pure mentor sense, but I have had supervisors who really believed in my abilities. They provided me with the support I needed to reach and succeed.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB, OUTSIDE OF YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

I don't have a specific job in mind, but the job's characteristics would be that it's global, it's transformative, it involves taking disparate parts of an organization and helping them come together as a team and maximize potential in the marketplace. I also would want to help individuals maximize their own potential as well as the organization's potential.

OUTSIDE OF FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?

I admire people who are very cognitive of changes developing around them and who are quick to see the danger and the opportunity in that change. I am impressed by those who then can navigate successfully through change and actually thrive in the end.

WHAT'S YOUR CAN'T-MISS TV SHOW?

“Luther” on the BBC. It's suspenseful and unpredictable, and Luther has a very human side.

BEYOND WORK, WHAT ONE THING DO YOU WANT TO DO OR ACCOMPLISH IN LIFE?

I would bike the Dolomites mountains (in Italy) because of their spectacular beauty and because it would be an incredible challenge. They are really steep and high. It would be a huge accomplishment.

DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

Not really. I think, in business, it's generally true that there is a lot of information, and it's very hard to filter out the clutter. I think there is way too much clutter on the social media networks.