Susan Rivera on “The Sex Appeal of Insurance”

At the International Conference, Susan Rivera, CEO of Tokio Marine HCC, led a seminar discussing her lifelong experience in the industry. In the session, she emphasized the advancements happening in the industry that keep it an exciting place to work, despite some people’s perceptions that insurance has not changed much over the past decades. A math major in college, Rivera took her first job after graduation as an actuary at AIG, and since then has never looked back from her decision to pursue a career in insurance.

Ultimately, she found that the times when she was challenged most in her career were those when she grew the most professionally, from taking a new job within the same firm to transferring to a larger international company to creating her own startup. Rivera stressed the importance of taking “stretch job assignments.” Specifically, at the age of 33 she was appointed president of AIG’s American Home group. Although the division was seen as not performing up to AIG’s expectations at the time, she seized the opportunity, taking over the leadership of 250 people from her previous position overseeing only 10. Being thrown into the position at a young age with little management experience, she was forced to learn on the job: by observing others who succeeded at the firm, she worked to ensure her own visibility and open communication with her colleagues and create an effective management cascade. The ability to adapt to new situations and work environments has benefitted her throughout her life.

In 2009, she founded V3 Insurance Partners, which both put her in a new role as an entrepreneur while allowing her more flexibility to spend time with her family. A colleague once told her, “Everyone should create a startup at least once in their life,” and Rivera agrees: it was an invaluable experience for her personal development. She explained: “You wake up every day and need to do whatever you need to do to help the company succeed.”  The challenge of developing a name and brand while taking risks kept the team constantly busy, but the atmosphere of working at a startup was more relaxed and familial than that of a large corporation. Most recently, Rivera moved to Tokio Marine HCC, an international company based in Japan. The biggest difference she has noticed working for a larger international firm is that the scope of planning has been much more long-term.

For Rivera, working in insurance has been filled with intellectual challenges along with exciting developments personally and in the industry as a whole. She encourages young people who might not have previously considered a career in insurance to give it a shot: they, too, may fall in love with the profession!