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Chief financial officer
THB Group Ltd., part of AMWINS Group Inc.
After studying biological science at the University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, Kay Smith might have become an epidemiologist. But it was a temping job in the accounts payable department at Abbey Life Assurance Co. Ltd. in Bournemouth where her career in finance and insurance began.
A team leader recognized her aptitude and recommended her for a place on the accountancy trainee program. “I absolutely loved it. I took to it like a duck to water,” Ms. Smith said.
From there, Ms. Smith looked to build her career while studying for her accountancy qualifications. She moved to Markel International and then to a private medical insurance managing general agency. In 2006, after qualifying as a chartered accountant, Ms. Smith joined Towergate Underwriting Group Ltd. where she took on various management roles before joining Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in 2011 in London as group financial controller.
At the time, Gallagher was embarking on a series of acquisitions that would transform it into one of the largest retail brokers in the U.K.
“I learned so much. It was like drinking from a fire hose, as the Americans say,” Ms. Smith said.
Ms. Smith is “a change agent without doubt,” said Mark Mugge, CFO of Right Choice Insurance Brokers Ltd., who worked with her in the international broking division at Gallagher. “She handles relationships effectively and is comfortable talking to people at all levels with different skill sets and personalities.”
Mentoring has been key to her career development, and she now pays that forward in her role as CFO at THB Group Ltd., part of the AMWINS family.
“All of my managers have taught me a lot and lifted me up and promoted me. Having somebody who has your back and believes in your capabilities is incredibly important. So I try and do that for the people around me — in my team and for other people in the business,” she said.
Connecting with people is important, Ms. Smith said. “Insurance is a brain industry; it’s all about people,” she 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.