People at IUMI: Melanie Raven, Vice Chair, IUMI Offshore Energy Committee and an Active Underwriter with Ark Syndicate Management Limited

Tell us about your connection with IUMI?
I became an Offshore Energy committee member in 2017 and was elected Deputy Chair in 2020. That followed several years of attending the IUMI conference and visiting many wonderful cities in the meantime!  My first IUMI was San Diego in 2012.

Why do you feel it’s important to be associated with IUMI?
There are many reasons. First and foremost, it’s a great platform for networking, not just in one’s own specialist area but much wider than that.  I’ve been introduced and met so many people over the 10+ years I’ve attended who I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet before.  Because delegates from all corners of the globe attend, the conference may be the only time in the year that we have a chance to (re)connect so it’s invaluable for that.  The themes of the conference are also well thought out and very well executed with superb speakers sharing their knowledge and expertise.  Quite often the technical sessions have a panel discussion which provides the audience with a chance to ask questions and offer up differing views and perspectives. Hearing from international markets with commentary around themes in the maritime world and global challenges we face is vital to ensure we are all working towards the same end goals, supporting industry, clients and hearing what is on our reinsurance partners’ minds at the same time. IUMI is a great forum for that to happen.

What is your day job and how did you get to that position?
I work for Ark, a syndicate at Lloyd’s.  My position there as Active Underwriter gives me real variety in my day-to-day work, but my entry to the business was through the marine channel and specifically Upstream Energy.

Would you recommend a similar career path for newcomers to the sector and what advice would you give them?
Yes, and the network, sponsorship and support is a real enabler to that happening in my opinion.  Having visibility is key which is why I truly believe being back in the workplace is critical for career progression.  Unfortunately, being out of sight may mean you’re out of mind, and it’s a people business after all.  So, my advice would be: turn up, be visible, ask lots of questions and build your network – it should be fun as well as productive!

Assuming no barriers, what would you like to change in the marine insurance world?
We all benefit from knowledge sharing and what has gone before and can build upon that but we must embrace the future also.  I think we can get a little bit stuck in the past, particularly when it comes to wordings.  Change is often resisted but with a real shift and acceleration in new technology, we will have to review and identify what is fit for purpose and what is not. Adapt and evolve. The transition to a lower carbon economy is an exciting one and there should be lots of opportunity.

Where would you like to see life take you in the future?
I’ve had some great sponsors and mentors during my career in this business and am thankful to lots of people who gave me the confidence and help to progress. So, I feel very passionately and find it incredibly fulfilling to help and support the next generation as they embark upon their own career paths.  There’s still a lot for me to learn too and there are some great benefits in symbiotic mentoring!

There has been a real thrust for education and knowledge sharing at IUMI within the insurance community.   I’d love to see this further developed by going out to schools and universities when students are considering a career in Financial Services, leading to a broader selection of society coming in.  I’m sure we could do a better job of marketing our industry and would love to be a part of that.

And finally, tell us something about yourself that no one else knows! 
There’s likely to be a few people who do know this, but I was a keen runner in the past and ran two London marathons.  The second one was my last.  I sustained a repetitive strain injury during training and unbeknownst to me (until a week after the marathon)  I discovered I had run it with a fractured fibula.  It was a hop, skip and a jump over the finish line with some binding applied at around 18 miles in but I managed to complete it faster than my first marathon.  I’ve hung up my long-distance running shoes since then and now enjoy getting lost on long yomps with my pet dog, Monty. Not quite so gruelling!