Suncorp Spotlight: Women in Insurance
Women in Insurance is a series highlighting the incredible female talent working in the insurance business at Suncorp. Its purpose is simple; to increase awareness of women’s roles in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and to highlight the expertise and passion these women bring to their roles each and every day.
At Suncorp, we’re immensely proud of the incredibly talented women working in senior leadership roles. Recently Suncorp was awarded Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) for the eighth consecutive year.
The Group is one of just four ASX20 companies to have close to half their managerial positions filled by women.
'Women in Insurance' is a new series highlighting the formidable female talent working in the insurance business across Suncorp Group, noting insurance has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
We discover why these executives chose a career in Insurance, what they predict for the industry moving forward and why more young professionals should choose a career path in insurance.
Jane Brewer, Suncorp’s Executive General Manager, Technology & Transformation, NZ.
Working for some of the largest companies in the APAC region, Jane Brewer's diverse background (including a BA in Classical Studies and Art History) and 25 years in technology gives her the edge when it comes to innovation in the field.
Jane Brewer is currently based in New Zealand, as Suncorp's Executive General Manager, Technology & Transformation.
Tell us a little about your background. Why did you decide upon a career in insurance?
I thought I was going to be a curator in an art gallery or museum growing up. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies and Art History – so a career in technology was not initially on the cards!
After my degree, I travelled overseas before returning to New Zealand. I was completely broke, and it was during a recession, which made getting a job very hard. I began my corporate career in the mid-90s in a call centre for AMI which, at the time, was the latest technology back then.
After 18 months I moved to a financial services start-up, called Ergo (and backed by AMP), supporting home loans and superannuation products in their call centre. I got tapped on the shoulder by my leader at the time to go to Sydney for a couple of weeks to be the subject matter expert for NZ – they were building a new computer system and systems and processes were my expertise.
Two weeks turned into two years and that’s how I got into technology: I started as an SME, then tester and business analyst before taking on a business analyst role at HSBC.
I started at Suncorp as a part-time Business Analyst. At the time it was the only organisation offering a part-time role with flexible hours. My kids were very young at the time, one and four, and flexibility was very important to me. Within a few months, I was promoted to leading the Business Analysts team and, since then, I’ve held many different roles over the years, proudly having worked at Suncorp for 14 years now.
What do you enjoy most about your role as Suncorp’s Executive General Manager, Technology & Transformation NZ.
I form part of the Senior New Zealand leadership team as well as the T&T leadership team. It’s a broad role that offers me a lot of variety, covering projects and production for core insurance platforms, digital applications, data, and leading business transformation areas – so my days are never the same.
Over the years, though, I’ve gotten the greatest joy watching people grow and advance in their careers – we have absolutely fantastic talent.
What is your experience of diversity in the insurance industry? And how is it changing?
I’ve seen a shift over the years, more women are now in leadership positions and at Board level. Technology has also historically been a male-dominated industry but that has also shifted in more recent years.
In saying that, we still have more to do!
Many people think of the ‘loner coder’ when they think of a job in technology but there are so many varied roles; this includes roles in leadership, running operations, and bringing strategy to life through building and embedding new capability. Roles are ever-changing and constantly evolving to keep pace with the industry.
What advice do you have for women looking to enter the industry?
To go for it! Insurance as an industry is diverse and offers many different roles. It’s an industry that is rapidly changing and embracing different technology and ways of working.
Where do you see the future of the insurance industry?
It’s a highly competitive industry currently, with more competition likely to grow as industry disruptors and new business models emerge. Technology will advance considerably and that will enable better service to customers, especially for claims.