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Vice president and D&O underwriting manager
StartPoint Executive Risks, a unit of Ryan Specialty Group LLC
For Anna Ekstrom, the variety of the insurance industry is what makes it interesting; it is so much more than risk transfer, she says.
Beginning her career in accounting and finance after receiving a master’s degree in business and economics from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Ms. Ekstrom moved into a risk management position at logistics firm Schenker AG, where she learned about coordinating a global risk and insurance program.
Having already moved to London from her native Sweden, Ms. Ekstrom became a business analyst at a Lloyd’s of London managing agency. She then moved into an underwriting role at American International Group Inc. and took on various positions, including overseeing executive liability lines for large accounts, before joining Paragon Insurance Brokers Ltd. as a senior vice president in 2013.
In 2015, Ms. Ekstrom joined StartPoint Executive Risks, a unit of Ryan Specialty Group LLC, which was less than a year old. While joining a young company may have seemed a risky move, she said the quality of the people with whom she works, a good structure and a work ethic that aligns with her own have been key in making that role a success.
Ms. Ekstrom said her job gives insight into the way companies work, and her career experience gives her tools to understand the clients. “If I wouldn’t invest in a company, then I wouldn’t want to insure them,” she said.
She advises women considering an insurance career to “surround yourself with people you can trust, whom you look up to, who will support you.” It is also vital for women in the industry to “dare to take space, to raise your voice and make sure you are heard,” she said.
“I believe you have to work hard,” she said, “but you also have to tell people about your good work.”
Diversity is of huge importance to the insurance industry and to all industries, Ms. Ekstrom said.
“If a group of people all come from the same mold, then the outcome of what that group creates won’t necessarily push the boundaries,” she said.
The 2019 Business Insurance Women to Watch Awards showcase another outstanding group of female executives in the insurance and risk management sector.