2019 Women to Watch EMEA: Silvia MartinezPosted On: Dec. 2, 2019 12:00 AM CST
Group general counsel and company secretary
Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd.
Silvia Martinez’s career journey so far has taken her through different experiences and locations, and she has wound up in a destination she was not expecting.
Born in Spain, she grew up trilingual in Geneva, where her father worked for the United Nations. Completing high school in California, she majored in economics and political science at the University of California, Berkeley before studying law at Harvard, where she became interested in public finance. “For me it was the perfect confluence of all my interests: law, politics and economics,” she said.
After working as a deputy city attorney for the City of Oakland, California, she joined law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. But her focus on public finance changed when her husband’s job took her to London in 2012. In London, she started in corporate law working for Willkie Farr & Gallagher before joining Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd., one of the firm’s clients.
Aspen went through significant changes after she joined, fighting off a hostile takeover bid in 2014 before being acquired by Apollo Global Management LLC earlier this year, a deal in which Ms. Martinez was heavily involved.
“I was really grateful that I was involved in the merger, because it was a great opportunity to learn even more about Aspen and it really opened up a door for me,” she said.
Ms. Martinez’s combination of business and legal expertise has been valuable for Aspen, especially in fighting the takeover bid and then helping secure the takeover by Apollo, in which her contribution was “phenomenal,” said Mike Cain, group chief operating officer of Aspen. “It was obvious from day one that she had this breadth of knowledge,” he said. “She has business sense and the legal expertise flows on, rather than it being the other way around.”
Promoted earlier this year to group general counsel and company secretary of Aspen, where she also chairs its U.K. Charity committee, she said her experience has given her a new appreciation of the importance of insurance.
“It’s like the public finance projects I was involved in over the years in California; without it, nothing happens,” she said.