Describe yourself in 5 words or less.
I am very calm, hardworking and assertive.
Tell our readers about who you are and what you do.
My name is Lucy Koech. I work in the Underwriting department in charge of the Direct and Bancassurance units. My main objective is to impact people; ensuring excellent services to direct clients and top-notch efficiency to the bancassurance clients. I always ensure a personal touch to the clients I deal with.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day starts at 4.30 a.m. with personal meditation. I then prepare my children for school and arrive at the office at 8.00 a.m. Once I get to the office, I respond to emails, make calls, and do my underwriting duties which include relationship management, mentoring and training my colleagues in the unit, and overseeing the day-to-day activities. My day ends at the field with an evening work out.
Tell us about your background and its impact on your education and career.
My parents were dairy farmers so waking up at 5 a.m. was mandatory hence I became a disciplined morning person. I have also maintained the hard work and discipline elements throughout my life. My parents were very supportive and treated all my siblings equally and hence we all went through to university.
How did the schools you attended earlier on in life impact who you are today?
I was in boarding schools throughout my life, so the discipline element continued to be instilled in me. I think the most impactful time was during my high school studies. I studied at Kabarak High School where they instilled a lot of values in me which have become my mantra. To date, I believe in integrity. I am a corrupt-free woman; it is literally impossible to bribe me. I was also taught that I can chart my destination now so that whatever I do now, whether it is working hard or wasting my time, will impact my destination. I also learnt not to be a spendthrift – you have to work really hard when you are 20 – 40 years to acquire so that you can retire peacefully and enjoy your life. And that is what I am doing.
Why Insurance Industry?
All my siblings are teachers, lecturers, and doctors so the expectation was for me to follow the same route or do something different like engineering or medicine, but I wanted to do something different. I even got a full scholarship to do medicine, but I declined. I think I chose B-COM because I didn’t want to be like the rest of my family members.
Tell our readers about your first job. Where did you start your career and how did that experience prepare you for your current role?
My first job was with a brokerage firm after university. Working there was quite an eye-opener because I had no experience therefore I gained so much experience because the duties were vast, such as processing, managing relationships with clients, facilitation of claims, finance, and other areas of operations. I then joined Jubilee Insurance as an underwriting officer where I also gained much exposure because they had a wide coverage of products and diverse clientele. Their processes were also seamless and automated, so I learnt a lot. I got promoted to a senior underwriter after a while. Then I joined GA Insurance.
How did you end up at GA Insurance and how long have you been here?
I saw an Ad at Brighter Monday to which I applied then got invited. By the time I was done with the interview, I knew I wanted to be part of the GA Team. Its been 7 years now.
Tell us more about your role at GA
I joined GA as a Senior underwriter in a commercial unit then got promoted to supervise the Marine and Bonds Unit. That was the most challenging aspect of my work in GA so far because I had never done Marine and Bonds before. However, I continued learning on the job and became a guru. We were then rotated and I ended up in the Direct and Bancassurance unit which has been so amazing. I was more of a reserved person and just had the underwriting skills but the much interaction with clients and the business development team daily has been awesome and has really changed my perspective in life. I’m enjoying what I am doing but I will be joining the team going to do the project and I am ready for it.
How do you continuously set yourself up for success as you continue to grow?
You have to be calculative in what you do. Plan well and execute well. Personally, I plan at the beginning of the year and outline at least 2 things to accomplish, and it always has to be something that stretches me personally and career-wise. I then break down these 2 objectives into daily tasks. As a result, I am not easily swayed by opinions and people because I clearly know what I want.
What are you most proud of about yourself personally?
Taking up an orphan when she was in Class 3 when I was just a Campus student. She recently graduated from the university and got a job last year.
What are your biggest sources of motivation?
My mum but sadly she is not with us anymore, so my kids are the reason I do what I do in all aspects of my life.
During this journey of growing into the phenomenal woman you are today, what would you say has been the most challenging aspect and what did you learn from it?
Juggling motherhood, pregnancy and career. Having young kids, being expectant and equally sick plus a career was so difficult but I learnt to be positive and have a different outlook on life. Now, I look back and it doesn’t seem as hard.
How is it balancing your new normal as a mom and your career?
I am disciplined to concentrate on the duty at hand. So, if it is work, I put my all into it. I work within the working hours and avoid carrying work home even if that means staying at the office for an extra hour in the evening. This ensures I am present while at home.
Did you have any mentors or role models that helped guide you along the way and why?
Definitely. I have mentors who have continually guided me since when I joined the industry. My mentors are also my role models because they have done exploits in the insurance industry. They always push me beyond my limits and make me see that I can also do it.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently with regards to your career?
No, I am happy with my journey so far.
What are some things that you wish that you would have known as a young woman? What do you wish someone told you in your early 20s?
I would have started saving from as young as 20 years old.
What is a quote that you live by?
It could have been bad or good yesterday, but I can better it today.
We live in a society where there is a notion that success is achieved after a compilation of minimal sleep, the absence of a personal life, and accepting disrespect until we are in power. As you grew throughout your career how did you navigate those expectations and did you find yourself complying with them in order to advance in your career?
No, I do not subscribe to this notion. Growing up, I was taught to wake up early and plan myself, so this helps me to be productive in the task at hand. I do not allow disrespect and I also don’t take things personal at work. Somebody will only disrespect you if you allow them. Plan well, work hard and be smart. The rest will fall into place.
At GA Insurance, we focus and celebrate ambitious women. In your opinion, what makes an ambitious woman?
An ambitious woman is one who has something to put on the table and has negotiating power.
What are some tips you have for other women hoping to become like you in your field and/or want to better their internship experience but don’t feel like they have the resources or don’t know how to start?
Start where you are. Plan and set your priorities right.
Have you experienced rejection in your career journey? How do you handle it and what’s your advice for young, upcoming women who want to be like you?
Yes, I have. The first thing I do is make an adjustment if I am wrong but if the facts are on my side, I seek a second opinion/clarification from someone with equal skills and experience. The second thing I do is let go and I also don’t take it personal.
As a woman with many things going on, how do you measure your success?
For me, success is all about making a positive impact in the society, so I measure success based on the impact I make in whatever position I’m in.
Fill in the blank. I am Lucy Koech and you may not know that ____________I am a counselor.
As a manager and mom, how do you ensure you take care of your mental health and avoid having a burnout so that you are productive in all aspects of life?
Working out and personal mediation on the Bible every day.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Watch this space.