Claire McDonald ACII Chartered Insurer, AGCS

Claire McDonald ACII Chartered Insurer, AGCS

A levels I Underwriting roles I Chief Underwriting Officer I Head of Operations I Head of Global Governance for Operations

What is your role?

Global Practice Leader, International Insurance Solutions, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS)

What were you doing before this role?

It’s a long story...

4 years in Allianz UK – underwriting commercial business
4 years in AGCS handling local UK policies for German multinational clients
4 years underwriting Corporate Property – so business with a turnover in excess of €500m
7 years in Energy underwriting oil, gas and petrochemical property risks
1 year as Chief Underwriting Officer for Energy
3 years as Head of Operations UK
3 years as Head of Operations France
3 years as Head of Global Governance for Operations 

Before getting this job last November

Why did you choose not to go to university?

I had a place to do Biology with French – I realised I wanted to do the French more than the Biology so it seemed pointless to go. I couldn’t do a whole new set of A levels so I went job hunting instead!

What do you do in a typical working day?

Problem-solving and making the various different parts of the company work together is one of the bigger parts of my job. I am looking to ensure that we sell our product correctly and, when we have global clients with international programs, that we provide the service expected of us. I am in Germany frequently and often have the opportunity to meet the risk managers of our insured clients to understand what we are doing right and what needs to be improved.

How does your role fit into the wider insurance picture?

Large multinational companies do not want individual negotiations in each country – they want to have one central conversation with an insurer and be able to implement from that central point. My job is about how Allianz sells and delivers that mechanism.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety. No two days are the same – I speak to people from all over the world and I am working on something that our clients care about.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Trying to predict what our clients will expect from us in the future in terms of digital delivery in what has been, to date, a very relationship-driven area.

What do you need to be successful in your role?

To enjoy solving problems, constant learning, developing networks and keeping an ear to the ground.

Have you taken any professional qualifications?

As a condition of my first contract, I had to take the CII Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII). It was a very good foundation, which I recommend to all starters in insurance.

What have been your career highlights so far?

Being the first female manager for AGCS in London
Creating and executing a London office strategy
Change management in Paris - very different to the UK, and all in French
Getting my new job! 

What are the main benefits of working in risk?

There are so many different jobs you can do, through the different roles I have taken – I have travelled (lots of countries from Kuwait to Australia, Bahrain to South Africa), lived in another country, been able to have a diverse career all whilst working for one employer. Who knows what or where my next role will be and to be nearly 30 years in and still learning is fantastic!

Why did you choose a career in insurance?

I didn’t – I knew nothing about insurance. I picked my first job as it was an A-level trainee role where there was guaranteed training and job progression linked to exam performance and on-the-job success. Other influencing factors were that the receptionist knew my name and that my offer letter came the very next morning! No regrets though at all. « Back to case studies