Power up: new industry-wide mentoring program to help LiiFT women leadership in insurance


A new mentoring program for senior leaders in insurance aims to create greater participation of women in executive positions.


Power up: new industry-wide mentoring program to help LiiFT women leadership in insurance

LiiFT, or ‘Leaders in Insurance for Tomorrow’ is an industry-wide mentoring program created by women, for women. Founded collaboratively by senior executives across some of Australia’s biggest names in general insurance, broking, underwriting and reinsurance, LiiFT is designed to influence the industry landscape at executive and senior leader levels to give more women seats at the tables that matter. 

LiiFT is mid-way through its first year, following its launch in September 2023, when 11 mentors from insurance leaders including Suncorp Group, QBE, IAG, Gallagher, Aon, Hollard and National Transport Insurance were paired with mentees selected from within participating organisations. 

#2023-4 founding mentors:

Lisa Harrison

CEO, Insurance Product & Portfolio

Suncorp Group 

Fiona Thompson

Group Executive, People, Culture and Advocacy

Suncorp Group

Sue Houghton

CEO, Australia Pacific


Caroline Rockett

Chief Information Officer


Jennifer Richards

CEO, Australia

Aon Australia 

Giselle Walther

Group Managing Director Aon Inpoint - APAC

Aon Australia 

Sarah Lyons

Chief Executive, Australia and Asia


Janelle Greene

Chief Customer Officer

National Transport Insurance

Heather Bone

CEO, Australia & New Zealand

Gallagher Re

Julie Batch

Group Executive, Direct Insurance


Shilpa Walker

Chief People Officer


How does the LiiFT mentoring program work? 

The program provides an opportunity for mentees to develop skills, build networks, and learn from those who have walked the path before them.  

LiiFT mentors are women leaders in insurance, holding executive/senior positions, with a broad range of expertise and backgrounds. Mentees include women who are at the business leader or strategic leader level, with a trajectory to senior leadership levels.  

Mentor/mentee pairs are matched to align goals and strengths, and across organisations to encourage diversity of thinking and experiences. The pairs meet regularly throughout the year, and the wider group of participants come together for key networking events.  

Why are collaborative mentoring programs important for women in insurance? 

Programs like LiiFT play a significant role in achieving gender balance in the industry; the latest data from the ‘Champions of Change Coalition’ shows that while women now outnumber men in insurance overall, there is still underrepresentation at executive and board levels. 

Potential challenges for women in the insurance industry can be linked to the lack of role models and systemic barriers associated with historically male-dominated industries. LiiFT strives to tackle this by providing a foundation for support, and personalised, one-to-one professional career mentorship. 

Suncorp Group CEO of Consumer Insurance Lisa Harrison has been in the insurance industry for more than 20 years and is one of the founding LiiFT mentors. Reflecting on her early career, Ms Harrison noted the distinct lack of women leaders. 

"I have been fortunate to have had some incredible mentors and sponsors over the years and if it weren’t for their encouragement to take some leaps, I wouldn’t be in this role now," Ms Harrison said.

Lisa Harrison, CEO Consumer Insurance, Suncorp Group

Our founding members across the industry are incredibly supportive of each other and the LiiFT initiative, and we are excited to see the program in action in its pilot year, with a view to continue and evolve the program over time.

Amanda Mudaliar, National Practice Leader at Gallagher is a LiiFT mentee and believes the program is a solid foundation for women to assist one another, and a platform to honestly express work challenges, and hear balanced, practical solutions. 

“The recent Gender Pay Gap Report (by Workplace Gender Equality Agency) shows how real the gender wage gap is. In a male dominated industry, a program like LiiFT showcases women in leadership roles, breaks down barriers and demonstrates a tried and tested path to success,” Amanda said.

I always walk away from our LiiFT meetings feeling inspired and empowered to achieve my best.

The LiiFT pilot program will end in June 2024, with a view to be rolled out as an ongoing initiative. 

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