Kate Murray, Executive and Professional Lines Liability Underwriter at Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance New Zealand, is the winner of the 2023 Donna Walker Award for Emerging Talent. She’s making her mark in the industry she joined just over three years ago.
Murray watched the live stream of the awards announcements with her father, a longstanding and well-respected commercial insurance broker, whose own rewarding insurance career inspired Murray to join the industry.
“This was a lovely moment I got to share with dad. He was very proud,” Murray shares.
One of the biggest supporters of her insurance career, Murray's father passed on plenty of his insurance wisdom to her. “It meant so much to him to see me continue his legacy,” she says.
Watching the awards ceremony together is one of the last memories Murray has with her father, as he passed away from a terminal illness the day after the award was announced.
“Winning this award has a very special place in my heart,” she says. It was also “a very humbling recognition of the progress I have made so far.”
Murray, who joined the insurance industry in mid-2020, between lockdowns, rapidly moved through the ranks to become an executive liability underwriter and mentor other young industry professionals.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting and commercial law, her first role with Delta Insurance was an internship in which she wrote a whitepaper on Medical Malpractice in New Zealand.
The whitepaper, which was very well received by clients and brokers, outlined treatment and commercial risks and encouraged healthcare clinics to be proactive in mitigating risks.
Murray says working on the whitepaper gave her specialist knowledge of the medical malpractice sector before she even started underwriting.
Her second medical malpractice whitepaper, which will be published online shortly, details healthcare risks in Australia, and will be a tool for Australian clients and brokers.
Being seconded to Brisbane to work on this paper was “an amazing opportunity” for Murray, because it opened her eyes to the differences in the Australian medical malpractice insurance market compared to the one in New Zealand.
She’s very proud of her work in Australia, having “gained a wealth of knowledge and relished using both my creative and analytical skills.”
In Murray’s current liability underwriting role at Berkshire Hathaway Speciality Insurance, no day is ever the same. That's what she says keeps it interesting and engaging. “It’s challenging, rewarding and a continual learning process,” she adds.
“Insurance is such a varied and exciting industry. There is so much to learn. I like using problem solving skills to consider the different risks.”
“That extremely humbling and proud experience has motivated me to work towards becoming a leader in insurance so that I can help inspire and mentor other young people in the industry,” she says.
To that end Murray became the Secretary and Head of Communications for the Auckland branch of the Young Insurance Professionals (YIPs) Committee. She helps organise an array of networking, professional development and educational events created specifically for young people in the industry.
“It’s so rewarding when people tell me they never realised how many other young people are in the industry,” she says.
Reaching out to build talent
According to Murray, one of the biggest challenges for insurance is the talent shortage. “A lot of companies are struggling to find new staff, with positions open for months,” she says. The solution, Murray believes, is targeting universities.
While Murray recognises that insurance isn’t often front of mind when people graduate from university, she believes it’s a great industry in which young grads can excel. “Getting more awareness out there is important,” she says.
YIPs committee members promote the industry through having stands at university career expos. “Hopefully, this will inspire more young people to give insurance a go!” Murray says.
“We’ve also started getting students and recent graduates to attend YIPs events. We promote insurance to young people and provide them with good networking opportunities.”
Murray also argues that perceptions of young people in the industry need to change.
“A lot of the seniors or clients might not take us seriously due to our age and lack of experience. However, that is a mistake, as we often have fresh ideas and can provide a different perspective. If anyone is going to change the status quo, it will be the next generation,” she asserts.
She is very keen to promote the insurance industry to young people. “I think it such an awesome career path in which graduates can not only succeed but thoroughly enjoy as well,” she says.
Having been truly inspired by winning the Donna Walker Award, Murray encourages others to apply. “I’ve had so many people reach out to tell me that they worked with Donna and what an incredible woman she was,” she says.
"And the award is a good opportunity to reflect on your own career achievements and a great chance to be recognised for your commitment to the industry."