Last month, the inaugural Insurance Business Awards recognised a range of industry players for their impressive achievements – and among them was Austcover CEO Maria Parry, who took home two accolades, including the prestigious Broker of the Year Award.

“The insurance industry has been very good to me,” Parry told Insurance Business, somewhat playing down her own level of professional dedication and commitment. “I was very surprised but very honoured to win.”

Having first entered the industry in 1987, Parry initially joined Austcover as an office junior and receptionist – since then, she’s pursued professional development opportunities with relentless zeal, holding increasingly senior roles within the company until she was named CEO in July 2016.

For other brokers or professionals who have similar aspirations, her advice is simple: “People rarely get promoted for just doing their job – you need to be noticed and that’s where hard work pays off.”

That hard work, she said, comes down to continually pushing for improvement, no matter what level you’re at within your organisation.

“Education and learning is ongoing – I don’t think people should underestimate the importance of this,” she said. “The insurance world is constantly changing and we need to keep up with developments - so professional development is absolutely crucial.”

Making key connections and building a respected professional reputation will also put brokers ahead of the pack, said Parry.

“Networking is so very important in creating your reputation so I really encourage people to make an effort, get out and start building relationships,” she said.

When asked to offer advice to industry newcomers, Parry shared insight pertinent to any age range entering any new profession.

“What I see a lot in new recruits – whether they’re young or old – is they worry too much about what other people think,” she said. “People derive their sense of satisfaction on comparing themselves to

others but you shouldn’t hold up your accomplishments to anyone else because your self-worth comes from within.”

Finally, as one of the few women to have ascended to the CEO level within insurance, Parry also offered words of wisdom to other women who have their eye on a C-suite spot.

“My advice to any woman is to believe that you can do it, and where necessary, focus on personal development. Be confident, take risks and don’t fear failure. Most of all enjoy yourself,” she told Insurance Business.

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