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Managing director-financial and professional services group UK
After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg with a degree in economics, Tracy-Lee Kus applied for a job as an underwriter simply to hone her interviewing skills.
Offered the job on the spot she decided to take it and has since specialized in financial lines insurance.
“I’ve loved insurance. I’ve loved the opportunity to travel, and it’s still one of the few industries that has a social side; the people and the environment are really important,” she said.
Starting with a small underwriting agency in South Africa, she began as a professional liability underwriter before moving to a local broking firm and then ran her own managing general agency.
Shortly after marrying, she moved to London when her English husband was transferred back home. She took a job as a broker with Aon PLC, specializing in placing coverage for financial institutions in a tough market following 9/11.
Working long hours running a team of more than 20 at Aon, she decided to move on to an insurer after giving birth to her first son. “In hindsight, if I was talking to another woman I would say, ‘Go and speak to your company,’ but at that stage I just didn’t,” she said. “Looking back on it now, Aon was supportive through the whole process and if I’d just asked I don’t doubt that they would have helped me find a way.”
The brokerage recently began a program to coach women returning to the workplace after childbirth. “That’s a big focus for me,” Ms. Kus said.
After about six years underwriting, she returned to Aon in 2012 to run its financial institutions team before taking on additional responsibilities. She now runs a business placing $1.5 billion in premium.
Ms. Kus has excellent subject matter expertise and technical knowledge but also brings additional qualities as a brokerage executive, said Jason Disborough, CEO-multinational accounts, international, at Aon.
“She has a calm demeanor that instills confidence in her team and, most importantly, instills confidence in her clients,” he said.
The Business Insurance Women to Watch awards program highlights the achievements of female leaders in the insurance sector to celebrate their success and promote gender diversity in the industry.