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Iris Teo

Iris Teo

Iris Teo
Marsh (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Age: 53

Iris Teo is the first female CEO of Marsh (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., a unit of Marsh L.L.C., and the first female CEO for the company in the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.

Throughout a distinguished insurance broking career, the variety of work and understanding clients' risk concerns has kept her invigorated and interested. “I get to see so many diverse industries, it is never boring,” she said.

Ms. Teo began her career in broking as an accounts trainee in a Singapore-based brokerage company run by her uncle, gaining experience in claims servicing and business development. But a desire for experience with international insurance programs resulted in her leaving the company to join Alexander & Alexander and take a pay cut — a decision she said she has never regretted.

While in the short term she was paid less in the new role, “my career really took off from that point,” she said — with two promotions within five years. “I learned it is OK to take a step back if that means it allows you to take a big leap forward,” she said.

Ms. Teo joined Marsh eight years ago and was promoted to CEO of the company's Singapore operations in January 2014. She considers this appointment in an industry still dominated by men, particularly in Singapore, as one of her greatest career achievements. She said Marsh promotes diversity, and now 50% of the company's senior vice presidents in Singapore are female.

Ms. Teo is engaged in both formal and informal mentoring of female colleagues, helping them to advance their careers and achieve good work/life balance.

Helen Chong, a senior vice president and adviser for legal with Singapore Petroleum Co. Ltd., said Ms. Teo's ability to understand risks and manage clients with “a deft female aplomb” are among the qualities that have helped her achieve her CEO position.

By Sarah Veysey