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2020 Women to Watch: Petra Riga

Posted On: Dec. 2, 2020 12:00 AM CST

Petra Riga

Petra Riga
Head of commercial insurance, Germany
Zurich Insurance Group Ltd.
Frankfurt, Germany
Age: 50

A passion for race cycling in the Alps has helped drive Petra Riga’s passion for life, including her work. 

She has spent the past 21 years with Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. and now divides her time between Frankfurt and Zurich. She says her current role as head of commercial insurance for Zurich’s German operations is a cumulation of all the expertise gained in those 21 years.

So far, her experience has included underwriting, and she has worked for many years on international business. That has included heading Zurich’s international business network management.

“I really enjoyed that global role, working with Zurich clients across some 200 countries and learning so much about different cultures,” she said. 

It is all a long way from her beginnings when she was offered an apprenticeship-style arrangement in Germany by an insurance company, allowing her to work and study simultaneously. The opportunity not only kindled her passion for underwriting but also her passion for supporting others. 

Ms. Riga is a supporter of Next, a network inside Zurich that provides support for younger people, advocating for the next generation. The organization sparks global conversations and gives younger people a voice in key decisions, she said.

She is an equally keen supporter of Zurich’s Women’s Innovation Network, which works to provide a more inclusive environment for everyone. 

James Shea, CEO, commercial insurance at Zurich, said that in her latest role Ms. Riga quickly built relationships with the insurer’s largest customers and ensured her team stayed focused on what remains a rapidly changing market. 

Alexander Mahnke, president of German risk management association Gesamtverband der versicherungsnehmenden Wirtschaft e.V. and CEO of insurance at Siemens AG, said, “Petra is a very professional, reliable business partner and well-respected colleague, as well as a strong leader. Petra has always been extremely client-focused and shows great initiative and thought leadership in all areas of her expertise and responsibilities.”

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