Fiona Macgregor’s commitment to gender equality, coupled with her focus on ensuring transparency and her ability to demonstrate true leadership within the life insurance category, has helped her to take out the Life/Risk Insurance Executive of the Year at this year’s Women in Financial Services awards.
Macgregor, who was appointed as the first woman in a newly created executive leadership team in April 2015 after joining TAL in 2014 as a general manager, has been praised for a significant impact she made during her time with TAL by driving a meaningful change in the organisation.
She was also recognised for helping to create a strong alignment across the firm’s brand and internal purpose and culture, while ensuring that the customers’ voice would be heard across TAL.
The achievements also included Macgregor’s active role in reinvigorating and refocusing TAL innovation agenda to reflect changing business needs and the evolving fintech scene by creating the TAL accelerator programme and the AI-focused incubator.
Macgregor is also said to be a recognised female innovation leader in the financial services space and she has managed to “model an openness to taking on new challenges”. Additionally, she has recently took on the acting chief information officer (CIO) role.
When asked about the key qualities that have helped her climb up the career ladder, she said it was all about “focusing on breadth rather than pursuing one specialist career path”.
“At times, I wondered if not pursuing a more specialist path was a barrier. But in senior leadership roles breadth becomes your real strength – leadership is a generalist job and an ability to “connect the dots” is key,” she said.
Following this, the most important criteria, according to Fiona, which help make a great employee and something that she has been always looking in people was the ability to focus and listen.
“That’s critical to building a great culture as well as delivering business results. Important qualities are the ability – and the preparedness – to continually listen to your people and your customers and a relentless focus on improving what you do as a business.
“It’s a constantly changing world so more than ever I look for people who are able to help teams deal with the angst that comes with ambiguity and continue to drive positive progress.
Asked about how she would encourage more women to pursue a career in the financial services, she said: “We are a business with a strong sense of purpose and, done well, financial services play an important role in the community and the economy. That’s a motivating job prospect but also a challenging one.
“It’s a great industry for talented women – and men - to build their careers in and really make a difference.
The other finalists were Tracey Crowe, Head of Life Transformation at BT Financial Group and Melissa Heyhoe, Chief Customer Officer, MLC Life Insurance.