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Property Practice Leader for Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Caroline Woolley was appointed leader of Marsh Inc.'s property practice for Europe, the Middle East and Africa last year. She now oversees all areas of property and business interruption in the EMEA area. In this role, she has helped develop supply chain and nondamage business interruption assessment and risk transfer products, as well as best-practice wording for green building clauses and other things. She has been instrumental in devising a service in Marsh's risk consulting practice to help clients better understand their natural catastrophe exposures. She also launched Marsh's first technical discussion center for live chat on property and business interruption issues. She is U.K. ambassador for Marsh's in-house global training site, Marsh University, and serves as a mentor to new graduates. Ms. Woolley is soon to become chair of the women@marsh network.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Hard work, dedication and focus. David Batchelor (now head of Marsh's international division) said to me: “Don't just work hard, make a difference.” And that strategic view of everything you do is important. Work hard at the right things. And advertise your achievements—particularly as a female, you have to do that. No one is going to blow your trumpet for you.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?
People—having a good support network, having trusted colleagues you respect in your own organization and also in the (wider) industry. It is surprising just how useful that can be and how often you use it. Find people you respect and have good working relationships with them. Be seen as a thought leader and share information—help other people. For me, having trusted colleagues in each country really helped me when I took on my European role.
DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?
I had quite a few. Keith Tuffin, a partner at my first firm, RGL L.L.P. (a forensic accounting firm). He's been great and I still see him. He is always helpful and honest. Andy King, who brought me to Marsh—I met him when I trained as a chartered accountant. And Katherine Kanaga (formerly leader of Marsh's European property practice, now retired). I met her when I first joined Marsh, and she recommended me for my current role. And probably most importantly, my partner, Pete. We've been together for 19 years, and he has always encouraged me and believed in me.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB, OUTSIDE OF YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
This is very difficult, because I love my job. When I started out, I knew I'd go into business, so that is why I studied chartered accountancy. I'd like to be a troubleshooter like (late British businessman) Sir John Harvey Jones—helping businesses to improve and do well—and to an extent, that is what I do, especially on the claims side.
OUTSIDE OF FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
Anyone who gives up their own desires and material items to help others, people who set aside their own needs and wants and go for a career that helps people.
WHAT'S YOUR CAN'T-MISS TV SHOW?
I don't have a routine in my life, so I never regularly watch any TV shows. If it is good enough, it'll come out on DVD and maybe I'll watch it then.
BEYOND WORK, WHAT ONE THING DO YOU WANT TO DO OR ACCOMPLISH IN LIFE?
I am doing them. Pete and I, for many years, have learned something new every year. For example, this year it was sailing, and we've also learned how to ride motorbikes, skiing and snowboarding and many other things. Still on the list is learning to play an instrument and scuba diving.
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
I can see the advantages for business—for example, Marsh has a Twitter account. You have to be careful how you use social media, but it is another great way to get information out. I tend to keep my private life separate.