Christine joined the precursor of Unimutual in July 2003 after gaining 12 years experience working in the Risk Management Office at the University of Sydney in the positions of Insurance Claims Officer and then subsequently as Insurance Manager a position which she held for 11 years. Prior to the positions held at the University of Sydney, Christine also held positions within the insurance industry with various insurers and a broker. Christine is currently a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, and a Member of the Risk Management Institute of Australasia.

What is your role at Regis?
My role at Regis is the Unimutual Member Services Manager. The role enables me to be involved in all aspects of the mutual including underwriting, risk management, claims and of course member services which includes the management of renewals, documentation, the online system and the annual conference. The role allows me to engage directly with the Members which has led me to meet some amazing individuals.

When was Unimutual established and who was it designed for?

Thirty years ago, commercial insurers were abandoning cover that they believed could not be underwritten economically. However, this cover was critical to universities and their unique set of risks. As a result, in 1989, the higher education sector decided to exercise control over its own destiny to protect itself from uncertainty in a challenging market where coverage was becoming expensive and difficult to obtain.

Unimutual was established to provide this cover for Australian universities, higher education providers and associated entities against a variety of specific risks, thereby giving the sector a more comprehensive and efficient alternative to traditional commercial insurance.
Born from a desire among its Members to have greater control over the particular costs and risks faced by higher education institutions, Unimutual today continues to provide a combination of comprehensive cover, value added advice and deep education sector knowledge that our Members tell us they find invaluable. This approach is as important today as it was in 1989.

What makes Unimutual different to insurers?

Unimutual is owned and controlled by the Members for the sole benefit and interest of the membership, Unimutual exists to deliver strategic and economic value to the higher education sector by supporting teaching and research through competitive pricing and unrivalled breadth of cover for essential property and liability protection. Unlike commercial insurance companies, its only goal is to provide value to our Members, not the pursuit of profit.

What led you to working in finance and insurance?

I fell into the insurance sector by accident. But once in the sector I discovered the diversity of options that existed within the insurance industry and in undertaking many insurance related educational courses through TAFE and University discovered a passion for lifelong learning.

If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your career?

Personally, I have been very fortunate in my working career to have had extremely supportive Managers (all of whom have been male). I have always been encouraged and supported when I choose to undertake insurance related studies including the ANZIFF Fellowship. Whilst at the University of Sydney I started a family and was supported with a full home office set up which gave me the flexibility of working from home. I don’t feel that my gender hindered in any way my career progress.

Why is gender balance and having a more diverse workforce important, especially in senior management teams?

Diverse workforces in gender, nationality, age and backgrounds are important for the development and growth of a company. For a company to grow and adapt to a rapidly changing environment it requires the creativity and innovation from a variety of individuals. Different individuals will see problems and solutions in different ways. By having a diverse cooperative senior management team, the probability of finding a good solution to a problem is increased. There is also great deal of diversity amongst our Members and as such it is important that our team can engage with a wide range of people with different backgrounds who think in different ways.

How can the insurance industry attract, retain and develop greater diversity in the workplace?

Flexibility in the workplace is a key driver to attracting and retaining staff as a work life balance is highly rated. Providing the opportunity and encouraging lifelong learning is also important not only for the individuals own growth but also in the success of the company. Providing the opportunity for staff to provide input and discuss ideas in a collaborative and nonthreatening environment.

What is your proudest achievement?

I am proud to have been involved in the development and growth of Unimutual over the past 30 years. Either as a Member with involvement in the Unimutual Technical Committee and then as part of Unimutual working on improving the services provided to Members. What has given me the greatest satisfaction during my time with Unimutual is being able to develop and implement an online system to enable the efficient collection and storage of the Members underwriting, protections and claims data.

What is one piece of advice would you give any aspiring business managers reading this?

There are a few pieces of advice which I would like to impart to aspiring business managers:

Be open minded when approached with an idea that may not follow your current strategy or belief.
Listen to the idea not the individual proposing the idea.
Strive to learn something new each day.
Be supportive and encourage lifelong learning.
Be aware of your potential unconscious biases which may lead you to make certain decisions.