Canadian Underwriter

Carol Jardine discusses retirement, succession planning and knowledge transfer

January 31, 2023   by Jason Contant

Carole Jardine, Wawanesa's president of Canadian P&C operations

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Knowledge transfer is top of mind for P&C insurance industry veteran Carol Jardine, as she prepares to retire as Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company’s president of Canadian P&C operations at the end of February. 

“I don’t think I’ve given away all my knowledge yet, and I’d like to find a way to continue to do knowledge transfer,” Jardine said in an interview with Canadian Underwriter Monday. 

Jardine will retire on Feb. 28. As part of its succession plan, Wawanesa recently announced a change to its leadership structure with the appointment of three industry executives to senior leadership roles. Anna McCrindell, Graham Haigh and Jocelyne Prefontaine are now Wawanesa’s senior vice president and chief operating officer for eastern Canada, western Canada, and life operations, respectively. 

“The three of us learned an incredible amount from [Jardine] over the last number of years, and we’re super-appreciative of all the work that Carol has done to help us move our business forward,” Haigh said in a separate interview with McCrindell and Prefontaine. “This is really an evolution of our leadership team. It shows off the strength of our executive team. We have a lot of people who can step into additional responsibility.” 

Jardine said transition is important, but it doesn’t start with a retirement announcement. It starts years in advance. 

“I think we’ve been doing knowledge transfer consistently for the last few years,” she said. “I’ve always had an eye on the fact that my [retirement] would come, and I wanted the team to be ready for that. I think they are.” 

Concept of succession planning

It’s the responsibility of senior executives to be thinking about succession planning, she said.  

“It’s our job as executive leaders to recognize as we get more mature in our roles, we have to make sure others in the organization are able to finish what we’ve started — but also to start from where we finished,” she said. “There shouldn’t be a break in the organizational success or journey just because somebody leaves.  

“This is a job for every senior executive every day — to make sure that there are people around you who could do a better job than you could when you decide to leave. It’s time… to let others have a chance to put their mark on the company and to have a chance to lead.” 

Looking forward, Jardine said she’d like to balance her time between personal and industry endeavours. “I’m going to try to find a balance between staying engaged while my knowledge of the insurance industry or financial services is still fresh, but also finding a bit more balance in my life of spending time with my family. I do love my riding my horses and getting physically in shape.” 

Jardine also wants to find a way to continue to knowledge transfer, whether through working with boards or through some educational work through the Insurance Institute of Canada, for example. 

Jardine used to train new board members to the insurance community, citing the examples of working with AIG Canada president and CEO Lynn Oldfield and Bob Tisdale, former president and chief operating officer of Pembridge and Pafco insurance companies. Tisdale recently retired after more than 40 years in the industry.

“There may be a way for us to resurrect that work, and help some new board members understand property and casualty insurance as well,” said Jardine, who also won the 2022 Established Leader Award from the Institute. 

Jardine has been teaching with former State Farm Canada/Desjardins executive Barbara Bellissimo at Toronto’s York University “on a regular basis, and I hope I’m going to be able to keep that up,” she said. “And I’d like to make sure that we’ve got a nice pipeline of talent available, either through the universities or colleges.” 

Jardine said she is proud of where Wawanesa is today and really enjoyed working with her colleagues at the organization, where she has been for nearly seven years. She has held numerous roles in the industry for decades, including senior executive roles at TD Insurance, CUMIS, Canadian Northern Shield Insurance (RSA) and RSA Canada (acquired by Intact). 

Jardine wants to share how interesting the insurance industry is with more people. “How do we let people know that this is an exciting business?” she asked. “I don’t think that’ll stop just because I’ve retired. [If] I can find a way to get other people as interested in understanding the value of insurance, that would be so worthwhile.”