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2018 Women to Watch: Nancy Bewlay

Nancy Bewlay
Chief underwriting officer, global casualty
Axa XL, a division of Axa SA
Stamford, Connecticut
Age: 50

Nancy Bewlay, global chief underwriting officer for Axa XL whose father worked for General Re Corp., never expected to be in the industry herself.

“I always knew about it growing up,” said Ms. Bewlay, but “I fell in love with clinical psychology.”

After spending time after college fruitlessly looking for paid work in clinical psychology, though, she turned to her father for career advice. He recommended pursuing underwriting, “which was in line with what I liked to do, which was research.”

“I always thought, I’ll get an underwriting job and we’ll see how that goes,” said Ms. Bewlay. “That was in 1990, and here is where I am today.”

She began as a trainee at General Re and spent 13 years there in different roles. She left to “try being a stay-at-home mom for two kids” for two years, before returning to the industry as an underwriter. Positions in several other companies followed before her April 2017 hire by XL Group Ltd., subsequently acquired by Axa SA.

“I was very privileged to work for some very good companies,” said Ms. Bewlay.

She said she made a point of taking on new opportunities “and being willing to challenge myself,” knowing that while there was a chance of failure and she would sometimes make mistakes, “through the process you learn and you become stronger at what you do” and “meet new people who open your eyes to new ways of thinking.”

Ms. Bewlay has been active in APIW, the professional insurance women’s organization; in The Supper Club, a business network organization of senior women in the insurance industry, where she serves on its U.S. regional management committee; and in the Stamford, Connecticut, chapter of Women of the World, an Axa XL organization.

“She is fabulous,” said Neil Robertson, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Axa XL’s chief executive for underwriting. “She is able to communicate so effectively with different groups of people,” whether they are clients, brokers or underwriters.

In his 34 years in the industry, Mr. Robertson said he has met few who are “more capable professionals.”

NEXT: Sandy Bigglestone
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