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Women in Risk: don't believe in outdated stereotypes

Ahead of International Women's Day, we asked Nathalie Berger, Head of Unit, Insurance and Pensions at the European Commission, about her journey in finance and risk management. Nathalie will be delivering the European Commission address at RiskMinds Insurance, March 19-21. 

Nathalie-BergercircleHow did you start your career?

When doing my PhD Thesis on European Law, I worked as an academic and as a free-lance consultant for a French banking group, as well as a speaker for the European Commission. I was active in the European Movement, in my home town.

After a brief period as a lobbyist, I joined the Commission in September 2000, in charge of the 'Lamfalussy procedure', which led to the attribution of implementing powers to the Commission in the area of financial services. I then joined the Commission Task Force on the Future of the Union, and contributed to the works of the 2002-2002 European Convention and intergovernmental Conference. These were the times when Europeans agreed to move to a European Constitution…

 What was your lightbulb moment?

The award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union! The Nobel Committee focused on the successful struggle of the Union for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.

The recognition of the stabilizing part played by the EU to help transforming Europe from a continent of was to a continent of peace.

Why do we see so few women in risk leadership?

There are more and more women playing an increasing role in prominent positions and companies should be encouraged to increase their role in risk leadership. I do not believe in outdated mantras or stereotypes according to which women would by nature be risk adverse! Or, maybe, if they were so, then they could prove a particular asset in risk management!

What advice do you have for women starting out their career in risk?

Read, and think about Steve Jobs' Commencement Address at Stanford, in June 2005. Find what you love. Do all it takes to get where you want to be.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Prove those who are prejudiced about you wrong. You can do it!

What will the future of risk management look like?

Solvency II made the risk management the cornerstone of the Insurance supervision in Europe.

However, the world configuration largely differs for the time we drafted Solvency II. Insurance companies are facing new challenges but at the same time are meeting new opportunities.

I believe that risk management is the only field allowing encompassing and mapping all interactions within an insurance business.

The next generation of risk management will use the best of data mining and artificial intelligence as well as adapting to a fast moving environment to stay in the race. In fact, creating a linkage between all risk sources is the key to staying resilient.

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