International Women's Day 2020: Mandy Hunt on being a female leader and a parent

As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, Commercial Chief Underwriting Officer Mandy Hunt, reflects on what it means to be a successful female leader as well as a parent.

9 March 2020

It’s exciting, and a little daunting at the same time, to be a woman in the financial services sector – you’re definitely walking into what is, predominantly, a man’s world. I feel it especially when I walk into a room and there’s usually just me, or maybe one other woman, and 10 or 12 men.

However, the working world is beginning to accept that women have a significant role to play. Being at the forefront of that and being able to change perceptions is the exciting part. Things are certainly different to when I started my career at RSA 22 years ago.

One piece of advice

I first joined the company as an underwriter in the Croydon office and throughout my RSA journey, I’ve tried to cover gaps in capability with secondments and projects, to give me the best chance of capturing my next big job.

If I was to give just one piece of advice to a young woman starting the in the industry it would be to seize your opportunities. Historically, we think we start from the bottom, joining at a junior level and gradually working our way up until one day you wake up and you’re the CEO.

But nowadays, progression is about making sure that you are well rounded and have broad set of skills. Taking any opportunity that gives you something that feels uncomfortable is only a good thing and using colleagues, coaches and mentors to help you challenge yourself will only make you better. It is something I did and it was really powerful.

Progress is there to be made by young women and celebrating International Women’s Day is just one of the signs of the progress we’re making. The fact that we have a day to pause for thought, shine a light on some of the big issues we need to consider and discuss the things that matter is incredibly important.

Being a working mum is tough and rewarding

I gave a talk this time last year and was able to open up about what it’s like to be a working mum – which is both tough and rewarding. It’s a constant challenge to balance between your family at home and your family in the office.

The joy I get when I get home and can have a chinwag about life with my daughter, or that her friends think that I am pretty cool because I come into to her school to talk about what I do,  is a real privilege.

The pace of progress is changing

Obviously, there is still work to do but the pace of progress is changing. It used to be a man’s world but women have done a lot to call that out.  I’m genuinely excited about the world today’s girls – all children really - will grow up in.

They can be anything they want to be and that makes me massively proud. And if I’ve played a small part for this organisation or the industry by having a bigger job as a woman, then that puts a smile on my face.