Canadian Underwriter

Erin Magilton | WTW

March 10, 2023   by Philip Porado

Erin Magilton WTW

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Erin Magilton, Canadian Leader, Corporate Risk & Broking, WTW

Asked how she became an executive, Erin Magilton, WTW’s Canadian leader of corporate risk and broking, said the most succinct answer is that she really wanted it.

“I was ridiculously fortunate to have my first business mentor inspire my career trajectory,” she said. “Seeing how Karin McDonald, who is now at Hydro One but was then at Minto developments, approached her work life was the first time I witnessed someone completely invested in what she did every day as part of a broader career – and a broader Canadian risk management community and Canadian insurance industry.”

She noted being impressed by how McDonald’s focus remained at the forefront, whether she was working with colleagues within the organization or with partners – and whether they were brokers or insurers.

Magilton said she took big risks and moved to opportunities that others thought weren’t great opportunities – and did it despite that.

“I’m a huge believer in the notion that by building competency you build confidence,” she said. “As a young leader, I kept bumping into team members who I found myself pulling along, which was not fun for them or me, until another mentor communicated the notion of needing to meet people where they are.”

“Which is not to say you don’t have standards. But you need to understand people have a given capacity at any point. That fundamentally changed how I lead people and interact with people on a colleague level.”

As for how other women in the industry can follow in her footsteps, she said that if you asked 10 different women how they got to where they are, each would describe a very different path.

“And we took paths that hopefully resonated with us, served us, allowed us to respect our values and what we wanted our lives to look like,” Magilton said. “So, the message is not how you follow my footsteps. You’ve got to create your own footsteps. It’s important to take advantage of the path that has been set by women who went before you and learn from the lessons they’re sharing. But you don’t have to do it one particular way.”

To create more opportunities for those joining the industry, Magilton noted that a recent trend away from intentional career pathing, career conversations and career sponsorship in favor of individuals owning their own careers may merit reconsideration.

“We need to create a space where people can be honest about what they want to achieve and then do that effectively,” she said. “Are you someone who wants to be an executive-level contributor? Then let’s be clear about how you make that happen and what the expectations are. Or are you someone who doesn’t want to be an executive? It’s just as legitimate and they need to understand what that looks like.

“Generally, and certainly in our industry, there’s an opportunity to be braver about women sharing their ambitions. Even though it’s 2023, often when you put that adjective ‘ambitious’ against the noun ‘woman,’ it’s viewed in a negative light. Particularly for women who want to be at the executive table, we should be encouraging them. Because I think there’s a gap in terms of comfort level and cultural acceptance of women owning the fact that they want a certain career trajectory.”