The Association of Professional Insurance Women celebrated three decades of leadership by Kathleen Savio, Zurich’s Chief Transformation Officer and former North America CEO.
It wasn’t the first time that Kathleen Savio headlined an event. But the APIW Insurance Woman of the Year Award luncheon was a coming out party of sorts for hundreds of insurance professionals who gathered at Tavern on the Green in New York.
Attendees of the event, held April 7, 2022 by the Association of Professional Insurance Women (APIW), were happy to gather with colleagues and peers after two years of pandemic-fueled social distancing and forced work-from-home arrangements. Most of the companies represented at the ceremony had just recently begun inviting workers back into their offices.
Savio, Chief Transformation Officer of Zurich Insurance Group and former CEO of Zurich North America, was honored as the 2021 recipient of the prestigious APIW Insurance Woman of the Year. She was joined at the luncheon by her husband, her son and eight of her Zurich colleagues.
Savio described the APIW gathering as “energizing” and “empowering.” She said she hopes that bringing co-workers together again will lead to creative and innovative business solutions.
“During the pandemic, we’ve actually done a great job at Zurich of finding ways to stay connected,” she said after the ceremony. “We were fortunate to have the technology. We were fortunate that we were able to stay virtually connected. But there is something about being all together physically, being able to learn from each other, being able to just have that conversation that comes organically that sparks ideas that helps us figure out better solutions together.”
She said she’s looking forward to reconnecting with colleagues “to drive innovation, the creativity and the comradery and the culture that comes from that.”
In a statement announcing the award winner, APIW President Barbara Bufkin said, “Kathleen’s highly successful career, leading various businesses and cultural transformation for over 30 years at Zurich Insurance Group, has had an impact within her company and the insurance industry overall. Kathleen’s professionalism coupled with her grace, humility and commitment to giving back, make her an exemplary choice at this important time.”
Savio’s 30-plus years at Zurich have included roles in communications, marketing and distribution, enterprise strategic initiatives, and business leadership. In her current role, she is focused on driving purposeful, sustainable advancements in the company’s culture and operating model. During her tenure as CEO of Zurich North America, she led the 8,500-person unit to strong, profitable results while simultaneously improving all customer and distributor satisfaction metrics and meaningfully increasing employee engagement.
Following the ceremony, Savio offered advice to women interested in a career in insurance.
“First of all, go for it! Dive in, absolutely,” she said. “There are so many places for women in terms of different skills sets, capabilities, areas of interest. So, just dive in. Bring your skills, your capabilities to the table. Especially, look to listen and learn, and then make sure you use your voice in everything that you do. There is opportunity everywhere you look in this industry.”
Savio encouraged women new to the insurance industry to get involved in APIW. “This is an organization that’s bringing new women into the industry and finding ways to mentor them, to engage them in different ways so that they’re learning from those of us who have been in the industry a little bit longer than they have,” she said.
In addition to Savio, four other insurance professionals were honored with “Extraordinary Women in an Extraordinary Year Awards”: Kathleen Alicks, Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, Seneca Insurance Company; Ashley Dillon, Senior Director, Global Underwriting Risk & Quality Assurance, Markel; Kristin Downey, Chief Administrative Officer, Amwins; and Melike Oz Pasaogullari, Senior Vice President, Business Process Management, Arch Insurance.
Keynote speaker at the event was Susan Rivera, CEO of Tokio Marine HCC.