Everywoman in Insurance Forum: Inspiring Insights (Part 2)

Written at Jul 31, 2023 2:26:00 PM by Kathryn Ellis

Thanks for coming back for the much-anticipated part 2. 

So, we had one more panel session before lunch: Technology disrupting and transforming the sector.  Lyn Grobler, Group CIO, Howden; Sarah Neild, Head of Cyber Retail, Howden Speciality; Safira Adam, Director Strategy & Transformation, Barclays and Amr Ellabban, Head of Data & Analytics, HG Capital.  Perhaps not the panel I was looking forward to the most (maybe just because it was pre-lunch) but it was very much focused on Chat GPT and to be honest, I feel like Chat GPT is just too much at the moment.  It seems to be on every agenda and a hard focus for so many, to me it is impersonal and I feel detached from content I know is produced from it because I know it doesn't have the human element, could you imagine the speed in which I could have written these 2 blogs from my event notes.  Perhaps it would have been more efficient, but it wouldn’t have allowed me the time to reflect on my day yesterday, refresh my brain, reconnect mentally with the conversations I had.  And actually, among other things such; as AI won’t take your job but someone that knows how to use it will, we all need transferable skills and don’t be afraid to try and fail, my underlying feeling about Chat GPT was also touched upon.  I’ll leave you with one final thought from this panel…When does the truth become blurred? When do we start to believe Chat GPT over anything else.  Who is fact checking the output or do we just believe it is true because Chat GPT said so?  

After being left with that thought for a gorgeous lunch, again with amazing views of the city, we were happy to network with the speakers for deep dive conversations into points touched upon.   

Following lunch, it was the turn of Sharon Aneja to take the stage.  Sharon is an everywoman associate and boy did she deliver.  Honestly, I was blown away by Sharon’s energy, delivery and engagement.  Her session was about giving.  Giving us the tools to build a more inclusive team culture.  So part one: Psychological safety and celebrity perceptions.  According to Amy Edmonson, psychological safety is ‘a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking’.  We were tasked by Sharon to work with the people sitting close to us and come up with some words that we felt described this safety. We were happily throwing words (and chocolates) across the room: respect, independence, trust, team, inclusivity, acknowledgement, fun, flexible, open communication.  I guess I probably take psychological safety in the workplace for granted because right now I feel secure, safe and happy in my working environment.  And then it dawned on me, recently I have had an experience where these positive words didn’t apply and in the next task, the words describing and unsafe space really resonated: superficial, dress code, blame culture, micromanagement, lack of recognition, no balance, no flexibility.  Thankfully, it turns out that in my leadership role, psychological safety is something that I was able to provide, even when I hadn’t realised that’s what I was doing.  Now, I know there are still areas to work on, but I was happy that I was able to naturally engage in a positive way.  Building psychological safety in your team is a three-level process: Belonging, Cognitive Diversity, Innovation.  And every time you fall off a rung in the ladder, you start from the belonging. 

Part 2: Washing instructions, key takeaways and Q&A.  We kicked off with washing instructions, and simply put your clothes have a label to tell you exactly how they would like to be treated.  So why don’t we create our own instructions on how we like to be treated and share them with your team?  Simple right? Include your name, working hours, communication preference, conditions you like to work in, things you need, things you are working on, things you love, things you struggle with.  

Here’s mine: Kathryn Ellis; 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday; Verbal communication (phone, teams, face to face); busy, fun, challenging, fast paced; coffee, running, music, open communication; leadership skills, knowledge of our solution; constructive criticism, feedback, collaboration; quiet space, being in photos and videos.   

So there, that’s a little more about me. Why not take it back to your team and try it, you never know what you might learn. I know I am definitely taking this back to distriBind. Although we are a small team, we have very different roles working closely together and I think that there are definitely some lines that get blurred.   

My key takeaways from Sharon’s session were: get the right roles done, use silent motivators (get a kick from proving people wrong), put the right talent with the right task, do the next thing right, the only thing that ever gets in your way is yourself and failed fika’s.  What’s a failed Fika I hear you ask? Well, get the team together and talk about what went wrong (what failed) and do it over coffee and cake(s) (a Fika) – no blame!  

Now, if you can remember back to my first blog on this event, I alluded to Queen Elizabeth 1 being a topic of part 2.  So here we go, Rose Balston, Art Historian and TV presenter demonstrated beautifully and through art, how significant a figure Queen Elizabeth 1 was throughout her reign.  She played on her gender and switched between the description of herself as a man or a woman.  She took the stance of her father in is need to demonstrate large crotch boxes and turned her virginity into a powerful uniqueness and highlighted it with pearls. So many pearls! And she documented her reign through portraits of herself and made herself as bold and glorious as she wanted to portray herself as.  Now, it was touched on that we shouldn’t feel the need to change ourselves, but what we should be is proud of what we are achieving.  We should be being bold, celebrating ourselves and being proud of our achievements, no matter how small. 

As I have already mentioned, this event was inspiring, energetic and thought provoking.  I am looking forward to becoming a better version of myself, to being confident in continuing to build my brand and to facilitate others in building their own.  I’m excited for distriBind to start benefitting from all the tips and tricks I have learned, and I can’t wait to do more and continue fantastic conversations with Everywoman.  

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Kathryn Ellis

Head of Communications