Morning Data CEO Kirstin Duffield on Female Leadership in the Insurance Industry
News -- 19 October 2023
With an increasing emphasis on diversity and inclusive leadership, the insurance sector – traditionally perceived as a bastion of male dominance – is actively participating in this transformative journey.
Kirstin Duffield, the CEO of Morning Data, has witnessed these changes first-hand across three decades of experience in the industry. Duffield's professional journey in the insurance sector provides a rich tapestry of insights into the evolving dynamics of female leadership.
Her elevation to the executive board of Verisk post-acquisition is not just a personal achievement but symbolises the broader acceptance and recognition of the pivotal role women play in shaping the industry. However, Duffield believes that leadership is a broader concept, not confined to gender. It is about cultivating an environment where every individual, irrespective of their background, feels seen, heard, and inspired.
Her leadership philosophy is deeply intertwined with her personal experiences. Reflecting on a challenging phase of her life, she shared, "I was diagnosed and was treated for cancer in 2018."
Such profound life events have not only shaped her perspective but have also enriched her approach to leadership, and she emphasises the importance of human connection. “I hope that individuals, irrespective of the challenges they have faced, feel they can approach me, whether it's for professional advice, a casual chat, or even to discuss shared interests."
The narrative on female leadership is vast and multifaceted. It goes beyond mere representation in boardrooms. It is about nurturing a culture where every individual, regardless of gender, feels valued and empowered. Duffield's advice to the next generation of female professionals is simple yet effective: "Listen actively, engage in meaningful conversations, and always remain authentic to who you are."
Tackling imposter syndrome
Duffield is also acutely attuned to the unique challenges that young women might face, especially in traditionally male-dominated sectors. Addressing the oft-discussed issue of imposter syndrome, she offers a perspective rooted in empathy and understanding. She encourages young women to embrace their individuality, asserting,
"It's essential to be genuine, to not suppress your identity, and to celebrate your uniqueness," Duffield said. "I've been told three times this week, 'don't change,' a testament to the importance of authenticity."
Moreover, Duffield's perspective on leadership is also influenced by the broader industry landscape. "Listen, ask questions, and be who you are," she says.
Duffield adds: “when you have worked for a family business almost all of your career, you lack the reaffirmation of a traditional career journey of promotions and job offers, your only yard stick are your clients and their support of your ideas and methods. Self-belief is essential, and to have joined Verisk has cemented that belief in one of the most positive ways possible”
This simple yet profound advice underscores the importance of continuous learning and adaptability in leadership. In a dynamic industry like insurance, leaders must be agile, receptive to new ideas, and always willing to evolve.
The insurance industry is at a pivotal juncture. With trailblazers like Kirstin Duffield leading the way, there is a palpable shift towards a more inclusive and diverse future. Their contributions will not only shape the industry's trajectory but will also inspire the next generation of leaders to drive meaningful change.
Watch the full interview below: