Gallagher’s Vivienne Toll believes her background in workplace risk will enable her to contribute unique insights to NIBA governance. What led you to a career insurance? Like many people, I fell into a career in insurance as a case manager in workers…

by Tiffany Eastland

Gallagher’s Vivienne Toll believes her background in workplace risk will enable her to contribute unique insights to NIBA governance.

What led you to a career insurance?
Like many people, I fell into a career in insurance as a case manager in workers compensation. That was when I was about 36, so I’m late to this career. And from there, I must admit, I’ve had exceptional opportunities in progressing to where I am today.

The industry has been very kind to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively and be taught internally and externally by some of the most gifted and dynamic professionals I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. For the most part, when I say that I work in insurance, people think it must be a rather dull and mundane profession, although in reality it’s dynamic and rewarding
– exceptionally rewarding from a career perspective. As a leader and a woman, I get excited that, certainly at Gallagher more than any place I have been, there’s a lot of scope to truly influence and shape a successful career.

What prompted you to first get involved with NIBA?
I’ve been involved with NIBA from a distance for many years – attending the annual convention, and I used to work with our president, Tim Wedlock. Observing how NIBA has gone about engaging brokers, making itself relevant, adapting its footprint to suit the landscape of a changing insurance market, impressed me.

In interacting with NIBA I identified a great opportunity to be a part of that, but to also bring a unique perspective on what I do, which is not traditional broking. As a consultant in the workplace risk space, I saw the benefit not only of Gallagher having representation on the NIBA board, but of being able to contribute a fresh viewpoint.

What was your reaction to being offered a role on the NIBA board? And why did you accept?
I was obviously honoured and thrilled, firstly that Sarah Lyons, Gallagher’s chief executive, thought it was something I’d be good at and enjoy doing, but also with the prospect of collaborating at an executive level with people that are as committed and passionate as I am about the insurance space. I’m also excited to be a voice for workplace risk, an area that hasn’t been uniquely  represented before.

What do you hope to achieve as a director on the NIBA board?
I hope to influence and help assist with some of the complex issues surrounding workplace risk, and moreover workers compensation. Each landscape is different across the nation, and understanding the nuances of how they impact our clients and their employees is quite unique.

Why should NIBA be important to brokers?
I think NIBA should be more important now than it’s ever been. It has a very significant role to play with government in representing the interests of insurance brokers, and helping brokers to navigate their way through the complexities of the laws and regulations that are in play.

NIBA maintains the standard of education and provides clear career paths for those wishing to join the insurance industry and, through its mentoring program, enables members to reach new heights in their careers. NIBA plays a huge role in the professionalism of insurance brokers.

I think NIBA should be more important now than it’s ever been. It has a very significant role to play with government in representing the interests of insurance brokers.

In your opinion, what are the key issues facing the industry at the moment?
In an environment where there is currently heightened and focussed regulatory intervention, uncertainty is created. This uncertainty can be somewhat alleviated with industry collaboration and
a focus I see NIBA currently providing.

There’s the emergence of cluster groups and growth in the AR network and the likes of the internationals, like Gallagher, increasing its footprint by organic and acquisition growth. We’re also seeing insurers become more aware of the brokers that, in partnership with them, add value and deliver results to complete the outcome for the client.

I think historically we were a little less regulated, or perhaps less aware of what we needed to do, and now we better understand how to conduct ourselves to reflect the industry’s vital role in how society functions.

How have you seen the workplace risk space change over time?
It’s changed amazingly because you’ve got an increasingly transient workforce, hot-desking, hubs and flexible working arrangements, coupled with increasingly sophisticated employers who understand workplace risk. You have regulators imposing new fines and penalties, and now the introduction in Queensland of industrial manslaughter laws. There are incidents in the workplace that require employers to take accountability and act – and not all employers have access to solutions internally.

The beauty of what I do is that it’s centred entirely on the management of people risk. What I mean by this is employers have a front and a back end to their duty of care for their employees.
Workplace risk plays a role in both spaces.

The front end of an employer’s duty of care relates to all the steps required to prevent incidents and injuries from occurring in the first place. This is principally the domain of the safety
risk advisory. The back end relates to an employer’s duty of care to manage all aspects of an incident or claim as it occurs – principally the workers compensation risk advisory.

Furthermore, an insurance broker is expected to be a complete risk manager, and that means they’re asked to be proactive in areas where they haven’t traditionally operated. Brokers, consultants and intermediaries in this space need to position themselves to remain relevant and valuable in the continuously evolving workplace risk environment. I believe we are increasingly relevant, and as our clients/employers become more sophisticated buyers, it’s up to us to make sure we are equally insightful, innovative and ahead of the game.

Is enough investment being made in technology, and do you think technology is an area that you look to leverage in the coming years to provide the best service to your clients?

I think anyone who’s not investing or at least exploring investment in technology is going to fall behind. However, it’s not about replacing the human touch with technology; there’s a place for both and it’s very important we find that healthy mix, rather than purely relying on technology as the only solution.

We at Gallagher are extremely innovative in our space. We’re moving to a software platform that allows us to deliver solutions in the SME environment, where quick responses are sought. For
more complex risks, certainly anything that deviates from the norm, we must be able to offer a combination of solutions – and digital plays a very large role in the efficiency of delivery.