Barbara Schonhofer had the idea for The Insurance Supper Club (ISC) over a decade ago. It was in 2003 co-founding her own talent consultant business, offering Executive Search to clients in insurance, that Barbara woke up to how few women the company knew. Although representative of the Industry, Barbara felt compelled to change this and as a result started to reach out to career minded women in the profession, to hear their stories, and organised a number of evening events that would appeal to women. This proved such a success and from this The Women’s Insurance Network (TWIN) was born in the UK. TWIN grew its own momentum and today remains a strong networking group in the industry.
Following the success of TWIN, Barbara still felt there was a lack of engagement at the more senior level. TWIN’s out of town events restricted the senior women from attending given diary pressures and she was keen to engage with these women and get their input. At this senior level, because there were so few women, Barbara already knew most individually but to her astonishment they did not know each other. Barbara decided to put this right and organised a private dinner to meet, network and debate business issues.
Before too long they were having regular round table debates hosted in the corporate facilities of some of the women attending. The business benefits and networking opportunity proved such a success that they reached out to other women internationally. A major change came five years ago when Paul Jardine suggested we hold an annual dinner for 120 people sponsored by Catlin. From this point they never looked back.
In 2015, the ISC formed a Charter, registered as Community Interest Company (CIC) and appointed a management committee in the UK and a sub management committee in the USA. This was the moment it became truly independent. In 2016 the ISC became affiliated with the CII’s Insuring Women’s Futures programme. Barbara now leads the Career’s in Risk activity. The aim is to add value through industry collaboration ensuring we attract and retain young talented females to the profession and give courage to the pipeline of female leaders.
In 2017, ISC gained funding from the market and is now funded by a number of insurance companies and trade bodies. ISC held an event at the RVS Monte Carlo for the third year running and held collaborative events in India and Hong Kong for the first time.
Today the club is made up of over 500 international senior female executives and non-executives in insurance, and other related financial services, and provides a platform to meet, share views and debate pressing business issues globally, including how to get a more rapid culture change within the industry and in doing so promote the inclusion of women at all levels. Above all ISC provides a trusted and safe environment for women and encourages the pipeline of female executives to pursue increasingly more senior career opportunities.
It is Barbara’s fundamental belief that a greater number of women in leadership positions, reflecting that of society, will accelerate culture change allowing the insurance industry to remain relevant in society and to thrive. Females have learnt over many years how to do things differently. As we move towards modern business practices female leadership will add the missing piece of the picture.
‘The Insurance Supper Club’ and the device mark are registered internationally as trade marks by the ISC.
No use may be made of such marks without the express prior written permission of the Insurance Supper Club. All rights reserved.