Inspirational Woman: Claire McDonald | Global Head of Operations & Global Practice Leader, Allianz Multinational for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS)

Claire McDonald, AllianzClaire McDonald is the Global Head of Operations and Global Practice Leader, Allianz Multinational for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS).

She started her career with Allianz in 1987 and spent the first 20 years in Underwriting ultimately specialising in Onshore Energy before moving over to lead Operations in the UK, then France and then globally within AGCS – a team of 800 people of whom 70% are women. In addition Claire is responsible for the international insurance program product within Allianz – Allianz Multinational.

Claire enjoys the challenges of change and transformation and fostering personal development. Claire has also been active in promoting gender equality at Allianz and beyond, chairing the organising group of the Allianz Sponsorship forum, setting up Allianz Women in the City, longstanding member of the Insurance Supper Club and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Insurers.

Outside of work Claire loves going to live events – theatre, concerts, festivals, travel and good restaurants. Claire is married with one teenage son.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Claire McDonald, my current role is Global Head of Operations and Global Practice Leader, Allianz Multinational for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE – an insurer specialising in large corporate clients and specialty risks. I joined Allianz shortly after my 18th birthday as an “A” level trainee and 11 jobs and just over 30 years later still here …My first 20 years were spent in Underwriting and underwriting management, the last 10 years in operations management in the UK, France and then in later years globally.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – not in so many words, but I have always pushed and flagged up when I felt the learning curve had dropped off and raised awareness that I was starting to look for something new.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Yes there have been challenges – in my 20s there was a general reluctance to promote young people especially women – I was the first female manager in my company in 1999, its not so long ago, I was in a market where all my brokers were men – one job I got with the proviso that if the brokers did not like me we would have to rethink after six months – fortunately they did. That seems like another world now and I really hope that there aren’t any women being put in a similar position now …

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

It’s not about the workplace so much as society – the concept that children really are the equal responsibility of both parents not just the mums – I see other countries in Europe that have this more ingrained in their society and I believe it benefits both genders. Then I think some of the unequal expectations placed on women could become more balanced.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is a win win – I get to know a potential talent, and a different area of the business, hopefully they gain from my experience. I am an active mentor – some formal, some informal and across the world.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Managing to stay married despite being in two different countries for three years, the travel that we both have, and a big part of our achievement together – our son who will be 14 later this year.

On the work side – working in French in France, successfully leading the business through some large scale IT transformations, constantly challenging myself.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We are at the moment working on a large scale organisation change which we are two-thirds into – so completing that is first on the list. What do I hope to achieve in the future – to keep learning, keep changing and keep contributing!

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