Lisa Wolfe – A Force for Change in the Insurance Industry

The traditionally male-dominated insurance industry is currently undergoing a significant evolution. In 2024, women are assuming increasingly crucial roles in shaping its trajectory. Lisa Wolfe stands as a prime example of this dynamic transformation. Lisa’s narrative mirrors the expanding influence of women across all sectors of the industry, spanning from underwriting and claims to product development and executive leadership.

Within her role at QBE, she occupies a pivotal leadership position, further accentuating her impact on the industry’s landscape. We, at EliteX, are honored to introduce Lisa Wolfe as one of the Influential Women Leaders in Insurance in 2024. Let’s delve deeper and explore how women like her are redefining the landscape of insurance.

QBE’s Legacy of Resilience

Founded in 1886 by two Australian entrepreneurs in Townsville, QBE began as a marine insurance company, offering early pioneers a safety net in uncertain times. Today, it has flourished into a leading international insurer and reinsurer, headquartered in Sydney with a local presence in 27 countries.

QBE leverages its extensive expertise to provide a comprehensive range of commercial, personal, and specialty insurance products, along with risk management solutions. Its mission is to empower individuals and businesses to manage risk effectively, build resilience, and embrace change as an opportunity for growth.

Since its inception, QBE has championed resilience, helping clients prepare for and recover from unforeseen challenges. This commitment continues to be at the heart of its purpose: enabling a more resilient future. This purpose, along with its vision of becoming the most consistent and innovative risk partner, defines its ‘Why’ – the driving force behind the work.

The QBE DNA: Building a Culture of Success

Beyond its purpose and vision, QBE identifies seven core cultural attributes that define who they are and how they operate. These attributes, known as the QBE DNA, are:

  • Customer-focused: Prioritizing customer needs in every interaction
  • Technical expertise: Leveraging in-depth knowledge to deliver exceptional service
  • Fast-paced: Embracing agility and efficiency in a dynamic world
  • Inclusive: Fostering a welcoming and diverse environment
  • Courageous: Embracing calculated risks and innovation
  • Accountable: Holding themselves and each other responsible for success
  • Team-oriented: Working collaboratively to achieve shared goals.

By embodying these core values, QBE fosters a culture that drives success and fuels its mission of building a more resilient future for all.

Lisa’s Journey in Insurance

Lisa’s passion for continuous learning and tackling new challenges fuelled her impressive journey within the insurance industry. Throughout her career, she embraced diverse roles, each unlocking a unique skill set that propelled her professional growth.

Lisa started by diving into personal lines underwriting as a direct writer. Eager to expand her horizons, she transitioned to commercial insurance as an associate underwriter. This marked the beginning of a dynamic career path.

From Senior Underwriter to Business Development Specialist and Underwriting Manager, each role honed her expertise. Her leadership potential blossomed as she ascended to AVP, Property Management, paving the way for her current position at QBE.

Today, as Portfolio Manager for International D&F Property, Lisa oversees and manages a property portfolio spanning across North America, Australia, New Zealand & Asian markets. Her dedication to continuous learning extends beyond professional development, driving her personal growth as well.

Collaborative Leadership

Lisa’s journey in the insurance industry transcends a mere career path. It’s fuelled by her unwavering commitment to mentorship. She says, “I enjoy what I do because it provides an opportunity to empower others, by utilizing my expertise and abilities to coach and mentor.”

This dedication stems from her belief that mentorship and strong leadership are the cornerstones of any successful organization. Her leadership style, characterized by collaboration and democratic principles, plays a key role in her success.

By involving team members in the decision-making process, she fosters a sense of ownership. This leads to higher employee engagement and morale, as they feel invested in the direction of the team. Furthermore, this collaborative approach encourages creativity and innovation.

By valuing diverse perspectives and promoting open sharing of ideas, Lisa fosters a dynamic environment where new solutions can flourish. Ultimately, her collaborative leadership style builds trust and facilitates open communication, both crucial for building strong relationships and resolving conflicts effectively within the team.

Insurance Powered by Technology

“Technology plays a crucial role in shaping the future of insurance.”

Technology serves as a pivotal tool for companies, enabling them to streamline operations, elevate customer experiences, and foster innovation in products and services. This technological leverage empowers insurers to adapt to shifting market dynamics and evolving customer expectations, ultimately propelling growth and enhancing competitiveness within the industry.

Lisa identifies several growth opportunities in insurance, including leveraging technology to optimize operational efficiency and enhance customer experiences. Additionally, she advocates for expanding into emerging markets and underserved demographics, leveraging data analytics and AI to enrich offerings, and pioneering innovations in areas such as climate risk management.

To stay abreast of industry advancements, Lisa actively consumes industry publications such as Insurance Insider, Best Day, and Insurance Business. Furthermore, she engages with key thought leaders and organizations on social media platforms, attends relevant conferences and webinars, and networks with industry professionals at various events.

Despite her dedication to professional growth and staying informed, Lisa maintains a harmonious balance between her professional and personal commitments. Through perseverance and adaptability, both in her professional endeavours and personal life, she continues to embrace opportunities for advancement.

Navigating a Complex Landscape

Despite her impressive career trajectory, Lisa’s journey hasn’t been without obstacles. The insurance industry, like many others, has historically presented systemic barriers and biases that have limited opportunities for women in top leadership positions.

Preconceived notions about women’s capabilities can hinder access to recognition and professional growth opportunities. Additionally, limited access to mentorship and networking opportunities – crucial for career development – can further disadvantage women.

These challenges extend beyond professional limitations. Feeling isolated or excluded in a male-dominated work environment can impact confidence and professional relationships. Furthermore, pay inequities persist, creating an additional hurdle for women leaders.

Breaking Barriers

Lisa’s voice is one of resilience. She acknowledges the challenges faced by women in insurance but also highlights the strength and determination of women leaders who have overcome them.

Their contributions have paved the way for greater diversity and inclusion in leadership roles within the industry. Given her extensive experience, she exudes confidence in her ability to navigate periods of industry uncertainty or change.

She elaborates, “Change is inevitable and constant. The ability to adapt quickly and lead through change allows you to maximize rewards and minimize risks which is paramount to success. This has further enhanced and strengthened my resiliency.”

Championing Diversity and Inclusion

Lisa is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion within QBE. Her dedication extends beyond words, as she actively participates in initiatives that foster a more equitable workplace.

She is a member of the MIX Network, a committee within QBE dedicated to driving initiatives that celebrate ethnic diversity. This network focuses on three key areas:

  • Education and Awareness: Promoting understanding and appreciation of ethnic diversity across the organization.
  • Overcoming Challenges: Identifying and working towards solutions for obstacles faced by ethnic minorities in the workplace.
  • Building a Diverse Pipeline: Reaching out to ethnic minority communities to encourage careers in insurance.

Lisa’s commitment to inclusion extends beyond her immediate colleagues. She also volunteers as a mentor in QBE’s School Partnership Programme. This program pairs employees with young people from ethnically and socially diverse backgrounds. By providing guidance and mentorship, Lisa empowers these young minds while simultaneously fostering a more diverse future workforce at QBE.

Advocacy for Women in Insurance

Beyond her dedication to diversity and inclusion within QBE, Lisa is a champion for women in the broader insurance sector. She employs innovative strategies to empower and mentor them, paving the way for a more inclusive future.

Her leadership extends to her role on the board of EWIIN (Ebony Women International Insurance Network). This organization is a powerful force for positive change, creating a supportive community and fostering an environment of empowerment for women of color in the insurance industry. Through her involvement with EWIIN, Lisa helps build a strong foundation for future generations.

Lisa’s passion for empowering others extends beyond mentorship. She previously volunteered as an ambassador for career connections at the Insurance Institute. This role allowed her to connect with students and career seekers, sharing valuable insights and information. By outlining diverse career paths and personal experiences within the insurance sector, inspiring others to explore the exciting possibilities this field offers.

Leading the Way in Diversity and Inclusion

Lisa’s dedication to diversity and inclusion extends beyond her work with the MIX Network and her mentorship efforts. A prime example of her impact is her leadership as chair of the DE&I committee at QBE.

Under her guidance, the company achieved a significant milestone in 2023, being recognized as a recipient of the prestigious Insurance Business Canada 5-Star Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Award.

“It was an honor to be selected,” Lisa reflects, “not just for our achievement in creating a progressive work environment, but also for our ongoing commitment to our related programs.” These programs are comprehensive and address various aspects of diversity and inclusion within QBE and some key examples include:

  • Talent Acquisition and Representation: Several programs focus on attracting diverse talent and ensuring proper representation across leadership positions at QBE.
  • Inclusion and Diversity Awareness: A monthly newsletter keeps employees informed about all the important dates and celebrations related to inclusion and diversity, fostering understanding and promoting participation.
  • Lunch & Learn Sessions: Regular ‘lunch and learn’ presentations raise awareness about important topics such as Women’s History, Black History, and Indigenous truth and reconciliation. These sessions create a platform for open dialogue and learning.
  • Women’s Empowerment Events: QBE actively celebrates diversity through events like the ‘Women’s High Tea’ held in honor of Women’s International Day and Women’s History Month. These events provide a space for connection and inspiration for women within the company.

By spearheading these initiatives, Lisa has demonstrably advanced QBE’s commitment to DE&I, creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.

The Core of Lisa’s Business Philosophy

For Lisa, customer satisfaction and trust are paramount. This philosophy translates into QBE’s globally standardized approach known as Customer@QBE. This initiative focuses on delivering value to customers in a responsible and accountable manner, fostering long-term, sustainable relationships.

Customer@QBE prioritizes a deep understanding of customer needs. By gathering relevant insights, the company ensures each interaction is tailored and valuable. This focus on understanding allows the company to anticipate customer requirements and proactively deliver solutions.

In today’s competitive insurance market, maintaining relevance requires a strong customer focus. Customer@QBE provides a globally aligned strategy that ensures QBE consistently delivers exceptional value to its customers, both now and in the future.

Lisa emphasizes the transformative potential of this initiative. “When we deliver Customer@QBE consistently across QBE,” she states, “it will become our point of difference in a crowded and competitive market, driving customer acquisition and retention and delivering long-term sustainable growth.”

Lifting As We Climb

Lisa aspires to leave a legacy built on authenticity. Throughout her career, she’s consistently championed genuine self-expression and encouraged others to embrace their individuality. Her vision is one of inclusion – of building longer tables where everyone has a seat, rather than projecting barriers. She strives to dismantle obstacles for all.

Lisa elaborates on her vision, stating, “As I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve made it a priority to advocate for and lift others, particularly women of color. Ensuring they have opportunities to succeed and thrive is crucial.”

She recognizes the power of representation, echoing the sentiment: “If you can see it, you can be it.” By championing diversity and inclusion, Lisa paves the way for future generations to reach their full potential.

Lisa Mentoring for a Brighter Future

Have confidence in yourself and your capabilities.  Be the version of yourself that achieves all your aspirations.   Be authentic, embrace the power within you, and break free from limiting beliefs and stereotypes. Value differences, embrace diversity and remain open to continuous learning.