WOMEN OF AMBITION: MELANIE SUTTON

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Melanie Sutton, Manager, Portfolio Management - CGU Direct & Broker Personal Lines

What do you like about working in insurance? 

The variety of work and the endless opportunities that it offers. You can be customer facing or back office, in the office or out on the road, you can have higher education or not, it caters for all.  Plus, I am always learning new things, whether it’s an industry / occupation or portfolio and claims insights, Customer behaviours and expectations. It is always evolving but the fundaments remain the same.

Why is International Women’s Day important to you? 

I am extremely passionate about equality at all levels, I have seen and lived the significant changes from the 1980’s (a little telling of my age) to now. I recognise that these changes did not come from individuals sitting back and being silent, but they found the courage to challenge the status quo.  

The world has improved but it is important to acknowledge the hard yards of our predecessors, because it wasn’t easy and there is still a lot more to be done. I also have 2 children, a boy and girl, both are encouraged to pursue their passions.  

What drives your ambition?

I think my ambition is built into my DNA, which is a desire to always do the best I can, in everything I do.  

My drive to succeed comes more from necessity, I wanted to be an independent person, and not rely financially on anyone.  To achieve this, I had to push the boundaries and climb the ladder in my career.  I work because I enjoy it, but I also chose to put my career on hold whilst my children were in school, but they are nearly gone now, so I am stepping forward again and it will be interesting what the next 15 years will bring. I guess my ambition has shifted in line with my life…

For me though the drive for success can be a good thing and a bad thing, for example it is well documented that women will not apply for roles/jobs unless we feel we tick the majority of the boxes and I wouldn’t be in my management role if I hadn’t been tapped on the shoulder, for fear of failing. I once took on a role and felt that I failed however, that role probably provided me with my biggest learning and growth.

(In your opinion) What’s the biggest thing influencing the insurance industry right now? 

  • Climate change 
  • In Australia – natural perils and adequate modelling
  • Regulatory involvement 

What are 3 things you love to do outside of work? 

  • Catching up with family and friends, we are renovating our home and because of this our home entertaining has been paused.  I cannot wait to get my good wine glasses out and enjoy time with our friends again.
  • Our family loves to be involved with clubs and team sports.  My favourite past time is watching and supporting local sporting teams and watching kids/young adults develop, make that transition into senior sport and adult life.  
  • Watching Netflix (I cannot help but binge a good series), I never was a big TV watcher but once introduced to Netflix there was no going back.  

Where would you be if you didn’t work in insurance?

If I had my time again and know what I do now, I probably would have done something like psychology / counselling.  Recently we went through a restructure and I thought that I would be happy working at the airport in customer service or furthering my netball coaching skills to become an elite sports coach, if I was unsuccessful in my reapplication of my role (I always have a plan B, just in case).  

About Melanie 

I was born in Tasmania, I was raised on a Farm in the Huon, before moving closer to Hobart. Im married with 2 young adult children and live in the outer suburbs of Victoria near the Macedon Ranges.

I enjoy most activities outdoors, love to travel, support local sporting clubs and teams and catching up with friends and family.  

My first job was an office assistant, I then applied for a role as an Insurance Clerk and have been in insurance ever since.  Starting in a small office in Hobart allowed me to grasp the basic principles and concepts of all aspects of insurance.  After 5 years, I moved to Melbourne where I went into broking, I was extremely lucky that I had a wonderful Snr Account Executive who was willing to not only teach me about insurance but introduced me to reading people.  Eventually I moved back to an Insurance company were I felt they were more proactive and accepting of female leaders.  This was when my career progressed and I was at my most confident to try new opportunities.

Connect with Melanie on LinkedIn.