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A look at the opportunities and challenges facing women in our industry.

We spoke to some of the women leading our Canadian operations to learn about their career paths, the challenges they faced, and what advice they may have for others thinking about entering this industry. In this installment, we talk with Judy Faber, our Chief Operations Officer, Canada.

How long have you been working in insurance?

JF: +30 years

What attracted you to the insurance industry?

When I graduated from university, the placement center had a posting for an insurance adjuster. At that time, I didn’t know what an ‘adjuster’ was and my knowledge of insurance was limited to the sale of auto and life insurance. However, this first job ended up being the door to a world of opportunities.  

What has surprised you most about the insurance industry during your career?

I am amazed at the variety of careers that one can have in the insurance industry and the vast knowledge that can be acquired. With curiosity, effort, and a little luck, you can successfully achieve your career aspirations.  That said, what has surprised me the most is the strength of and longevity of the friendships gained in the industry over the years. It still feels wonderful and fresh to see these same friends today than it did when I started more than three decades ago.

What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How have you dealt with/ conquered those challenges?

Early on in my career, when I was working as a claims adjuster, I experienced  intimidation, threats and disrespect by claimants and lawyers during investigations and settlements. While this behavior is not acceptable, it happened multiple times. I often reasoned that this was the lowest form of their offensive strategy.  It can make you cynical about humans but then you meet another person who restores your faith in humanity. With more work experience and confidence, I found a voice to call out such poor behavior. 

Looking back,  there were also very few examples of women in senior executive positions to look up to. I worked at one company that only had male engineers and local male management. The females were generally support staff.  This environment seemed to be typical for the time, but you also realized that if you wanted to move up in your career, this wasn’t the employer of choice. A couple of months into the job, I realized that this was not the best environment for me. I stayed the year and changed employers. 

I also recall having a discussion with a male executive that rationalized the gender pay gap was necessary as the men required the higher salary to support the family while it was expected that the women would take more time at home with the family. To this day, the gender pay gap continues to be rationalized to validate its acceptability. It’s a topic that consistently needs more open discussion and queried to uncover biases.


What advice would you give your younger self as she enters the industry?

Work smarter, bring in those that align with your core values and goals into your leadership circle, find and build a mentor relationship in each of your roles, develop a plan for your career growth..

Look for more in this Let's Talk conversations with Women in our industry.

Canadian women in insurance infographic


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US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.