Rising Stars: What happened next for Karina Klimaszewski

Karina Klimaszewski

WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their seventh year.

The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 25 different industries and professions.

Over the year’s, the awards have recognised over 600 women across the UK and India.

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.

We spoke to Karina Klimaszewski, who won a Rising Star in Professional Services Award in 2020.

I work at Aon in our Retirement Practice, advising clients on their pension strategy.

In addition to building strong relationships with my clients and helping them meet their objectives I am involved in Aon’s DC thought leadership, in particular on DC member engagement and financial wellbeing. For example, I co-wrote this year’s 2020 Aon DC Survey and regularly present at external events -which I love.

I also spend a lot of time getting to know and developing others.

Within Aon, I spend time implementing change to improve the working experience of colleagues. For example, organising speed mentoring, presenting at meetings to help others understand their strengths and weaknesses and mentoring colleagues.

Externally, I have helped to launch NextGen, a cross-industry committee aimed at encouraging the next generation of pensions professionals. We have over 300 members and as part of this I have chaired events and launched a cross-industry mentoring initiative. I also present at events encouraging diversity in STEM careers and in the actuarial profession.

I studied Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics at Warwick University. I joined Aon as a graduate in 2010 and qualified as an actuary in 2013.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a Rising Star award?

I was thrilled, stunned and honoured! It’s lovely to be recognised for the work I am so passionate about; engaging people on pensions and financial wellbeing, developing strong relationships and delivering value to my clients as well as developing and mentoring others.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the Rising Star award?

Aon are great at promoting and celebrating successes. I was mentioned in numerous newsletters, virtual “town halls”, had an article on our company-wide intranet and there were posts on linked in. I had lovely support & messages from my colleagues, which meant a lot .

Since winning the Rising Star award, I’ve been promoted to principal – unfortunately this was in a COVID world so I haven’t had a chance to celebrate this or my award in person with my colleagues, however I hope to do so once we are back in the office.

In terms of work, I’ve continued to present at conferences this year and be mentioned in the press. I have also presented internally at a number of events on developing others and experiences I have had that others might be going through. In a virtual world, I’ve tried to keep linking in with my colleagues and helping others do so too, for example by arranging coffee roulette in our team where you go for a different coffee with someone every week to have a break!

I also now chair the training & mentoring sub-committee for NextGen, a cross industry committee aimed at encouraging the next generation of pensions professionals. When I applied for the award, we had just launched our cross-industry mentoring initiative and since then it has been a huge success with 60  people signing up. We’re planning on launching our second cohort early next year.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

Believe in yourself and go for it! For me, I’ve always found it really difficult to talk about my achievements, so going through the award’s process and having to write about them was a challenge. However, I’m really glad I did as it’s so nice to be recognised for what I do and to know that I am doing an ok job.

I do think it’s important to find time and take stock on what you bring to the table and what you have achieved – it makes you realise that you have an impact. Sometimes at the start of your career, it’s easy to think it is hard for you to make as much of a difference.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers? 

Firstly don’t underestimate the importance of relationships. Working in consultancy, we hear that message a lot. But I think it’s important in all aspects of work – not just for our clients, but also our internal teams. I work harder, and I find that others work harder for me, when we all enjoy working together and acknowledge each other’s efforts.

Secondly, I think it’s really important to find your own style at work and be yourself. If you’re fortunate to work with many great role models, which I am, it’s great to learn as much as you can from them to develop. However I think it’s also important to remember that what works for someone else may not work for you, so don’t forget your own style and stay true to that as well.

Nominations for our 2021 Rising Star Awards open on 11 January 2021. You can find out more about the awards here and how to nominate someone here.

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