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‘Get to know’… Helen Wheal – Casualty Underwriter

Helen Wheal joined Carbon in January 2021 as a Casualty Underwriter. She recently took the time to chat about her role, the Carbon business, what’s on her radar and a few other personal observations which make her such a valued member of our team.  

Tell us about your career before joining Carbon

I started out in the insurance industry in 2013 after graduating from university. I began at another Lloyd’s syndicate where I spent eight years before joining Carbon in 2021. It was a binder-focused business and I worked my way up from underwriting assistant level through to being an underwriter on the UK and international team. I dealt predominantly with Casualty but also some Property, which set me up really well for my role at Carbon.


Why did you decide to join Carbon – what in particular attracted you to the business?

We were in the middle of lockdown when I saw the job at Carbon. I applied, had the interviews and was offered the role about 10 days later – so, let’s just say that the stars were aligned and the timing was perfect.

The huge appeal was the syndicate-in-a-box (SIAB) piece which was new and innovative, and in a role that focused on an area of the market that I had always worked on. Coming in at that stage of the business’s development was really exciting as I could see from the people and culture that this was a company that was going places fast and had very strong growth ambitions. It has certainly given me the scope and breadth to grow and develop with a great team of like-minded colleagues who are always pushing the boundaries of what is possible.


What’s the focus of your team in terms of products and geographic spread and your specific role?

Our Casualty portfolio focuses principally on Australian and Canadian business at the moment but with an increasing focus on Europe and the UK moving forward – so, General Liability with that Casualty focus but looking at areas such as Workers Comp and Employer’s Liability as well. There’s a team of four of us at the moment but we are looking to grow and are actively hiring for two new roles as we speak. My role in growing out the Casualty portfolio is an incredibly exciting opportunity.  


In your opinion, what makes Carbon really stand out in the market in terms of the value-add you bring to clients?

Our focus on data is a significant differentiation for us when compared with many of our competitors in the market. The capabilities we have for consistent oversight allows us to be  more nimble and proactive, and makes processes such as binder renewal much smoother. We have a regular dialogue with clients and are, therefore, able to adapt to meet their ongoing needs very swiftly and decisively. 

Our “one team” set-up and culture also sets us apart and allows us to get cross-class products in place really quickly. It’s something that is consistently fed back to us by clients who really like our collaborative multi-line capability and the way in which we work so well together as underwriting teams to explore new opportunities with our partners.      


What’s your proudest career achievement?

A couple of things spring to mind. The first is being part of a great team and the way in which we have worked together to grow and develop the business as an SIAB and then graduate to full syndicate status earlier this year. It’s been an exciting journey and is testament to the incredible vision and tireless dedication of our people.

And from a personal perspective, I was really proud to have been awarded the Crawford Prize by the Chartered Insurance Institute for achieving the best result in the UK for the Advanced Diploma in Insurance in 2021.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

To always challenge the status quo and not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in order to move forward. This is part of our culture and DNA at Carbon. Some companies are more receptive to this than others but it is very much the way we work and think in terms of constantly looking to push the boundaries.


If you could issue a call to action to the market, what would it be?

It links back to the previous question in terms of our ability as an industry to adapt, innovate and be much more nimble in order to develop and grow. The market is still seen to be quite traditional and I think there are significant opportunities for those businesses who are able to adapt quickly, move forward with pace and energy, and who put differentiation and relevance at the top of their agenda, especially in the current climate.


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