Blog

Women in Cybersecurity: Cyber Insurance with Shannan Fort, Stephanie Snyder & Carrie Yang, Aon

Stroz Friedberg is a specialized risk management firm built to help clients solve the complex challenges prevalent in today’s digital, connected, and regulated business world

Stroz Friedberg is celebrating International Women’s Day, a global celebration on March 8 recognizing the achievements of women, by profiling some of the women whose work keeps our company at the forefront of cybersecurity. Throughout this month, we’ve posted interviews that highlight different career paths in technology, overcoming obstacles, and advice for other women pursuing their own careers in the industry. We hope readers will be inspired to #BeBoldForChange and join us in contributing to International Women’s Day’s vision of empowering women around the world.

 

 

Shannan Fort, Cyber Product Development Leader – Global Broking Center, Aon

I came into insurance right out of my degree in international business and insurance. At Howard University, I attended an insurance camp for two summers that was run by a faculty member named Dr. Harold Grey, who greatly influenced my decision to go into the industry.

From that point forward it was insurance. I started with Aon’s rotational program, working in casualty brokerage, account management, and then came into the Professional Risk Solutions team in Chicago. After taking a break to teach English for 18 months in Japan, I moved to the New York team, where I worked on the challenge of building a book from scratch with a colleague. I then moved to London where I now work as Cyber Product Development Leader for Global Broking Center.

One of the things that attracted me to cyber insurance is that it changes so often as technology evolves: no two days look the same in our industry. The risk factors are so dynamic that cyber insurance policies are living, breathing documents that need to be adjusted to respond to the changing risks that our clients face. While all policies are adaptable, other areas of insurance with more history, such as property and casualty, by nature do not need to be as flexible. In cyber we see policies now that ten years ago we would not have imagined.

One of the challenges in the insurance industry as a whole is a lack of diversity. I have been fortunate to have a number of female mentors across different offices throughout my time at Aon. I have been particularly influenced by other high-profile African American women that I could look up to and see what progression could look like for me, and navigate any pitfalls I was likely to experience in the industry.  In addition, I’ve been very lucky to learn from and be supported by some of the smartest people in the cyber industry, like Kevin Kalinich. As well as those practicing in my field, I was inspired by a former Chief Diversity Officer at Aon, Corbette Doyle, who gave some advice that has really stuck with me: become an expert in a field and you will always have a job.

One of the issues with diversity is that often people are not aware that they are acting with unconscious bias – whether that is towards gender or race or other issues. In a relatively new field like cyber insurance it can be an added challenge to prove yourself because brokers can often be younger than others in the room. The only way to get over any type of bias is to be smarter and better at what you do. Be an expert and fight your own battle to prove that you are knowledgeable and the best person for the job. Experience helps with this too.

Cyber insurance is a really exciting field and we need to be actively recruiting more women – there is so much opportunity for advancement and innovation. For any women thinking about a career in cybersecurity I would encourage them to find mentors and connect with other women in the industry to create a support network. I would also offer the same advice that I heard from the Chief Diversity Officer: find an area of interest and become an expert in it. It will open a lot of doors!

 

Stephanie Snyder, National Sales Leader – Cyber Insurance, Financial Services Group, Professional Risk Solutions, Aon

I lead Aon’s cyber insurance sales and business development efforts. In addition to handling a small book of clients, I work with clients and prospects who are in the initial stages of considering cyber insurance. Much of my work is focused on partnering with companies to help them understand their cyber risk exposure and develop appropriate insurance solutions.

I’ve spent my entire career in the insurance industry – first as an underwriter, then as a broker – and have been working on cyber insurance since its early days in the 2000s. I’ve enjoyed watching the product evolve from a liability only product, to a much broader product addressing liability, expense reimbursement, network business interruption and systems failure. In 2017, there are few organizations that are untouched by cyber risk and I enjoy helping clients better understand how it impacts their organization.

Like cybersecurity and other technical fields, the insurance industry tends to be dominated by men. This has changed over time and we see a great deal more women now, though it is still disproportionate. I took several years off from my career to be a stay at home parent to my three daughters and when I wanted to rejoin the workforce, the insurance industry welcomed me back without missing a beat. I’ve been fortunate to have had a great amount of opportunity in my career and I believe getting into cyber insurance early has certainly helped. The entire insurance industry is trying to contemplate cyber risk – what it is, how it is evolving, and its impact on organizations. Cyber insurance represents a great opportunity for men and women alike, as the market is anticipated to grow substantially over the next 10-15 years and we are all learning together.

The advice I would offer to women pursuing careers in this field is: Don’t be intimidated. Cyber insurance is a fast moving product and the risk keeps changing, creating considerable opportunities for digging into the issues and making contributions. I encourage you to read, read, and read some more, and ask questions. With so much still to be learned by everyone, education can be the gender equalizer by giving you the knowledge and confidence to shape the future of cyber insurance.

 

Carrie Yang ,  Assistant Vice President, Financial Services Group, Professional Risk Solutions, Aon

As an Assistant Vice President in Aon’s cyber insurance broking team, I serve as a risk management consultant and advocate for our domestic and international clients, helping them obtain the best cyber insurance coverage for their budget and ensuring policies work in the event of claims. I am also the US-Asia Cyber Liaison, supporting the Aon Asia team in developing new cyber opportunities across Asia.

I joined Aon’s Shanghai office in 2004 after graduate school and worked on various lines of insurance. In 2015 I moved to the Cyber and Errors and Omissions (E&O) team, specializing in Network Security & Privacy Liability insurance and E&O insurance.

Cyber is the sexiest insurance in the industry right now. Companies globally are dealing with cyber risk every day and it will be a growing concern for the foreseeable future. Emerging insurance areas are exciting because, as a broker, there are new risks to contemplate when improving terms and conditions for clients and the products can be more innovative. For example, I was heavily involved in drafting the Aon Cyber Enterprise SolutionTM Policy, the first in the market to provide property damage as a result of a cyber incident and product liability coverage for IoT devices.

In two years in the cyber group, I’ve seen a significant improvement in the gender imbalance within my group and in my clients’ technical teams. Before I joined the group, there was only one female broker but now 40 percent of brokers on the team are women, including two in leadership positions. In my clients’ organizations, 30 to 40 percent of the Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) I speak with are women. I attribute this positive trend to schools and organizations inspiring women, and successful industry role models sharing their experiences.

It’s important that we continue to challenge stereotypes and perceptions about certain professions being characteristically male or female. Men and women bring different valuable perspectives to the table and that diversity and equality is needed to reach the best outcomes. In Chinese culture, we like to break down things into two sides, Yin and Yang. They represent opposing concepts, yet are complementary; when the two forces combine, it drives the best results.

My advice to women looking to pursue a career in STEM is to not be afraid of the changes that come with new opportunities. With each change in my career came a steep learning curve, which motivated me to move forward and sharpen my professional skills. It is this variety of experience in a career that will one day allow you to connect all the dots and amass skills needed to be even more successful.

Legal

Our lawyers don’t want to miss out on the fun and would like you to know that all of the posts are the opinions of the individual authors and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Stroz Friedberg. The ideas and strategies discussed herein may not be appropriate for any one reader’s situation and are not meant to be construed as advice.

Professionals

Commentary, new discoveries, and innovative ideas
right to your inbox.

Stroz Friedberg

Sorry! You are using an older browser which is not supported by this website.

Please download one of these free browsers to enjoy all our website has to offer:
Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer.