Future Maker Women who took the risk to move further!

At the start of March, Virtual i Technologies started an inspiring event series “Take The Risk Take The Lead”. In the program, we hosted those inspirational women in the insurance and technology industries who are taking leaps of faith, who are way out of their comfort zone and – in doing so – are not only shaping their own lives, but those of their families, their companies and of humanity at large. Meeting with mentors, colleagues, and sources of inspiration and putting these amazing women in the insurance industry into the spotlight was an unforgettable experience.

The six episodes of the conversation series are available for watching on the Virtual i Technologies Youtube page. Every episode, the guests have answered our questions about the risks they took in their life, how to assess and approach those risks and retrospectively what risk they wished they had taken. The guests were:

  • Ana Maria Mihaescu (Mentor and Investor)
  • Violeta Ciurel (Multinational Leader)
  • Future maker women of Virtual i Technologies: Angeli Isabelle Amil, Nazlı Elif Demiröz, Mine Nazik, Cansel Şahin, Elif Beyza Peker, Müge Olacak
  • Lavanya Mamidanna (Business Development Director of Berns Brett Masaood)
  • Rose Wanda (CEO of OESAI)
  • Patty Karuaihe-Martin (Managing Director of NamibRe)

Ana Maria Mihaescu

“It’s very important to always have at the back of your mind your values and principles.”

Ana Maria has made her marks and contributed to 11 European countries while with International Finance Corporation. She is currently a board member in international institutions such as Raiffeisen Bank, Black Sea Oil & Gas and Medlife. She has led the World Bank Mission in Bucharest as well as key global banks. Beyond her unique imprint in the insurance industry and in business overall, Ana Maria is an ardent promoter of women ascending in their career paths.

She told the story of how she was appointed to the World Bank position during the interview. She was the general director of a Romanian Bank. However, she decided to resign, as the political ideals forced on the bank did not match with her values and beliefs. On the same day she resigned, Ana Maria went to a dinner organization, welcoming the president of the World Bank to Romania. During that meeting she got an offer from the world bank, the same day she resigned from her previous position.

Violeta Ciurel

“You have to try. If you do not try, you can’t know if you’ll make it. If you cannot make it, it doesn’t mean a failure. It means you tried something you gained experience and it will be easier for you to make a decision in the future.”

Violeta is a well-known multinational senior insurance executive, having worked in top executive positions in international and new markets in more than 10 years of AXA, and developed businesses and greenfields in Central Europe for ING. She is also a professor at ASEBUSS Business School and a key player in the Women on Boards Committee within Professional Women Network, where she mentors young women ascending on the corporate ladder.

She shared how her global career progressed and what were her life’s turning points in her episode. She was a teacher for 16 years, giving lectures on international business and economy of insurance and reinsurance. At some point in her life, Violeta started to get job offers from companies trying to enter the Romanian market. She states she was not interested in the job offers at first, she was happy and content with her life. After several months she was convinced to leave the university and to accept the offer. She explains she had doubts that she wouldn’t make it in the business environment. “From the beginning I thought it would be trial and error but mostly error. In reality it went really well.”

Future Maker Women of Virtual i Technologies

Every person on the Virtual i Technologies team has a different life story and different experiences which form unique perspectives. Finding harmony within these differences is a core component of our success as a growing insurtech company. That is why some members of the team shared their stories during the event.

From Virtual i Team, Angeli Amil, Key Account Manager, shared her story about her move from the Philippines to Dubai. Elif Beyza Peker, Customer Journey and Sales Manager, talked about her chance to study abroad for one year and how it affected her career path. Cansel Şahin, Assistant Brand Manager, made the decision to take the risk and change her field to suit her passions. Nazlı Elif Demiröz, Cybersecurity and Development Intern, talked about realizing her interest and education incompatibility and she made the decision to change her major. Mine Nazik, Customer Support Engineer, explained her decision to stay with her family instead of continuing her education abroad. Müge Olacak, Marketing Director, told the story of how she left everything behind to pursue her passion, dancing. All of these stories are featured in this blog and this episode.

Lavanya Mamidanna

“It does not matter whether you are male or female. What matters is are you able to do it. Can you follow your passion?”

Lavanya is a founder member of Berns Brett Masaood Insurance LLC, an Insurance Broker with operations in the UAE. Currently based in the Head Office of Abu Dhabi, Lavanya heads the Business Development vertical of the organization. She worked alongside the core team to build a market-leading business in the UAE.

During her interview, she shared how she started her career in insurance, leaving India and coming to the UAE and working together with her husband. Lavanya states the biggest challenge during her career was the decision to work together with her life partner, her husband. Work topics coming back home were risky and work/personal life balance became much more important. They had doubts when both of them got offers from the same insurance firm but they accepted the offer and moved from India to UAE, from two seperate companies to the same one.

Rose Wanda

“Please do not be comfortable. Be eager to grow”

Rose Wanda is currently the Secretary General & CEO of Organization of Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI), a part time lecturer at College of Insurance, Kenya and also privileged to serve as an Executive Council Member of Insurance Institute of Kenya where she doubles up as the Convenor, Public Relations Committee. She is passionate about community service and her recent project was launching a porridge feeding program for over 100 boys and girls aged between 4 to 6 years in a local primary school where she serves as a board member.

In the fifth episode, Rose talked about the risk she took that shaped her career. A big change in her life started with a friend encouraging Rose to join the election for The Insurance Institution of Kenya Executive Council Members. She thought she was not fit for the position but with the encouragement from her friend she started campaigning. Few weeks later she won the election and she says this was the turning point for her career.

Patty Karuaihe-Martin

“Sometimes you have to give up something in order to get something else. You should be ready to make that change.”

Patty Karuaihe Martin is the Managing Director of NamibRE, Namibia National Reinsurance Corporation. She has over 30 years of work experience in finance, accounting, insurance and reinsurance. In 2021 she was re-elected as the Chairperson of the Organization for Eastern and Southern Africa Insurers (OESAI) as well as an Executive Member of the Africa Insurance Organization (AIO) . Patty’s work in sustainability and climate change has led her to be elected on the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Steering Committee (GSC), where she also serves as a co-chairperson.

During the conversation, Patty shared how she took the risk to change her career. She also put emphasis on how important it is to take risks on young promising professionals and being mentors to them. From a very young age she had the opportunity to prove herself and she focuses on giving the same opportunity to others. She mentioned that this is a risk she always is willing to take.

Special thanks to our valuable guests and audience who shared their great feedback for the Take The Risk Take The Lead conversations as a unique opportunity to learn more about the both professional and personal lives of many women working in the insurance industry. Their experiences, stories and philosophies are without any doubt great learning sources and wisdom and experience.

You can watch all of the episodes to learn more about the guest and learn from their experiences. #TakeTheRiskTakeTheLead conversations are available on Virtual i Technologies Linkedin and Youtube pages.

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