• Laura Hay, Leadership |


Although every jobseeker has different priorities, it seems like both those starting out in their careers and members of the current workforce, are looking for careers that reflect their personal purpose, desire to do good, or to make an impact on the wider world.

It might surprise them to discover that insurance is among the original professions that helps to protect people, creates resilient communities and nurtures developing economies. That’s the message I heard from twelve extraordinary KPMG women who built careers upon their STEM backgrounds. And that’s food for thought for women, or anyone, who wants to direct their skills to a purpose that matters to them.

Explore opportunities with purpose

Amid the usual bustle and clamour in the business world, it’s easy to forget what insurance is fundamentally all about. "At the heart of insurance, you’re supporting customers and society, and your whole job is providing protection to help people in crisis," explains Leanne Allen, Partner at KPMG in the UK. "Whether you are an empathetic person, or you want to be part of the bigger picture, insurance is an exciting place to be because it can span your passions and values."

Laura Gray, Partner and Head of Actuarial at KPMG in the US, added that, "Insurance provides essential protection - It offers benefits and guarantees to people and families. That has a big impact on communities and society, and it may appeal to women who like the idea of working in a field where they can reduce risks and help protect others."

This elemental role of insurance - both its direct benefit to individuals and its macroeconomic influence - bears repeating. Jeanne Johnson, Principal at KPMG in the US, shares: "Insurance really has a unique relationship with the principles of ESG (environment, social and governance). For example, it can serve as a great social equalizer by helping someone get through the economic ups and downs. And these days, with so many people wanting to work with a purpose, anyone with a STEM background who can bring science, and innovation to these issues can help make insurance more accessible and affordable."

That’s certainly the case in the world’s developing regions, where economic growth creates new opportunity for previously underserved populations to save and access education, homes and healthcare.

Jessica Hong, Digital Transformation Director at KPMG China, shares her views: "I feel that there is a direct link between how we support our clients and delivering a greater good to society. Particularly here in Asia, where there has long been a protection gap, we are really tackling some of the big issues that this continent is facing."

Holly Ou, Partner and Actuarial Lead at KPMG China, agreed, observing that, "Insurance plays an important part in creating a stable economy because it really offers protection for people’s daily living. We now see in this market how people’s needs are changing vastly, and we must keep up with those requirements." Ou also opines how many women have a natural inclination towards caring and nurturing others, which may draw them to this sector.

Make a big impact, both locally and globally

The STEM women I chatted with highlighted the opportunities to make an impact in insurance and its critical mission.  

Fiona Chau, Partner and Actuary at KPMG China, summarises "While insurance has some catch-up work to do, to connect its noble purpose with a changing digital world, that’s actually an advantage for anyone entering this field. You can make a huge difference through small actions, and your skills can accelerate this industry forward by introducing technology and innovation."

At the end of the day, it’s amazing that more people are looking for careers – and employers – that reflect their own values, principles and priorities. Now, we must spread the word that you can do just that, outside of a university lab, non-profit agency or government ministry. Insurance serves a noble function, and the women of STEM can build dynamic, rewarding careers delivering this important work.

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