If you’re looking for Kathleen Reardon, CEO of Bermuda-based Hamilton Re, you probably won’t find her in an office — because she doesn’t have one.
While the company does have a conference rooms, everybody usually sits together in an open-floor setting—chief executive included.
“It gets rid of any hierarchy,” Reardon says. “We’re all in this together. Your voice as a young professional just entering the business is heard. I’m happy to listen to you and hear your opinion.”
Reardon, a member of the company’s founding management team, says her goals are to be approachable and inclusive.
“I’m constantly thinking of ways to challenge the employees.” she said, “Somebody was always looking after me to reach my full potential, whether it had been an advocate, a mentor, or a boss, and I want to make sure people have enough opportunity to show theirs.”
To that end, Reardon has created several think tanks at Hamilton Re to tackle issues like innovation and emerging risk. The company is also a proponent of Insurance Careers Month, a cross-industry recruitment initiative.
“I take a personal interest in my employee’s career development,” she says. “It takes a lot of effort, but I believe it’s that important.”
Reardon, who grew up in Philadelphia, was introduced to actuarial science in high school and pursued it through her university education. She went to work for Cigna’s P&C unit until 1999, when ACE bought the group and she relocated to Bermuda. Reardon moved to the reinsurance side of the business after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
From 2005 to 2012, she was chief underwriting officer and senior vice president for Ace Tempest Re Ltd.’s Bermuda international property catastrophe reinsurance business.
In April 2014, Reardon was hired as CEO of Hamilton Re, a nascent reinsurance company formed only the year before by former Marsh and McLennan CEO Brian Duperreault. Under her leadership, she has doubled the shareholder equity in Hamilton Re to $1.6 billion.
“It’s interesting to come into a market with a blank piece of paper and have a chance to start from scratch with no legacy, no culture that might hold you back,” she says.
Simultaneously, however, she is working to build a new insurance company at a time when the industry is being reshaped by technology and data science, Reardon also notes that insurance is in the midst of a talent crisis that sees experienced people leaving the industry faster than young professionals can replace them. Over her career, Reardon has seen more senior women in the industry, and believes that women bring unique perspectives to the executive table. That creates a unique opportunity, she says.
“Maybe we’re at a tipping point,” she said, “but if you look at any of the research, you will still see that women are underrepresented at the senior executive level. It is, however, being acknowledged as an issue.”
Reardon co-founded Women in Reinsurance about 10 years ago, a group she now chairs. And, Lloyd’s CEO Inga Beale chose her to lead the global expansion of her “Dive In Festival of Diversity Inclusion” in Bermuda. Reardon said the program stresses the need for the industry to acknowledge “the differences among us and, ultimately, the consumer.”
“We don’t want to miss out on potential talent because of some selection process that the resume went through before they even reached the door,” she says.
This includes being honest with yourself as a recruiter, Reardon said, and seeing if there’s anything you’re doing unknowingly that’s causing homogeneity in the hiring process.
“Just challenging yourself and challenging your team to think a little bit further on that could go a long way,” she says.
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