Last October, we sat down with Coversure Keighley’s Franchise Holder Reana Bashir to find out how she finds being a woman in business. 9 months later and she has been recognised by Insurance Business as one of the ‘Women of Influence 2018’ – alongside the likes of Inga Banks, CEO of Lloyd’s of London and Tulsi Naidu, CEO of Zurich UK. We spoke to Reana and asked her how she feels about this fantastic achievement.
Congratulations on making the ‘Women of Influence 2018’ list. How did you feel when you found you had joined this elite group?
It was a complete surprise to have been nominated; I only found out when I received an email from Insurance Business. It is amazing that our work is being recognised.
You have had a history of success. In your eyes, what has been your highlight to date?
The highlight of my career so far…that is a big question. I thought it was a highlight when I was promoted to Branch Director whilst I was employed by Bluefin. I then thought it was the highlight when I opened Coversure Keighley, then we went on to open a further two branches. More recently, I thought the highlight was being Highly Commended for the New Broker of the Year Award at the UK Broker Awards within the first 12 months of trading in 2017. Right now, it’s being in the top 30 ‘Women of Influence 2018’.
It looks like things keep getting better and better, so I’ve no doubt that if you ask me in a few years I’ll have a new highlight to add to the list.
The Insurance Business article was focused around women in business and top achievers in their field. Did you ever imagine that you would be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of the CEO of Lloyd’s when you were younger?
To be honest, no. I came from a traditional family, with a modest upbringing. My parents worked long hours to give us the best start in life. I guess I was just on the ambitious side, I always wanted to be my own boss. I used to dream of owning a multimillion pound business.
I didn’t see the benefits of education so I left school at 18 to start my career in insurance. However, I had a bumpy ride to success, it wasn’t all plain sailing. I had no idea what I was in for, or the fact that this was going to be the greatest growing period of my adult life.
Are there any women in business at the moment that particularly stand out as inspirations to you?
I see myself as being in a similar situation to Karren Brady. She is an ambitious, tough, hardworking and successful business lady. Seeing her when she started working in football, a world that is mainly male dominated, and how she gained such a strong reputation through hard work and determination is, in my opinion, a great achievement. And we both share the same passion of driving a Range Rover!
Recent figures published by The Guardian have shown that at present, women hold 29% of boardroom positions at FTSE 100 companies. Although this is an increase from 12.5% in 2011, the target is to hit 33% by 2020. Have you found being a woman in business especially challenging?
It is hard being a woman in business, especially when we are trying to juggle a business with bringing up a family. We can sometimes feel as though we aren’t achieving what we want in any part of our lives. I will not deny that at times it has been challenging, but you have to overcome any barriers that may come in your way and disrupt the traditions of the industry. To be part of these Awards is a great confidence boost and affirms that what I am doing is the right thing.
One of the main focuses of the article is how women are mentoring the next generation of female insurance professionals. What is your opinion on this, and how can we see this across your offices?
For decades the insurance industry has operated as a male dominated world, with limited entry for female leaders. As we work and open up the brand of insurance to an emerging generation of females, the days of ‘an old boys’ club’ must cease to exist. Each day milestones are being made, but many board and executive management positions are still being filled by men.
Male and female insurance professionals need to dedicate themselves to mentoring the upcoming generation of women. In comparison to other industries of similar size and importance, I do feel the insurance industry has a lot of catching up to do.
I have done a few inspirational talks at local college events and bridging the gap between male and female is something that I am passionate about. At present, I currently have 7 females and 5 males working across 3 of my branches.
Thank you Reana for taking the time to answer these questions, and once again congratulations on your acknowledgement. If you would like to find out more about becoming a Coversure Franchisee, why don’t you get in touch? By clicking here, you can find out how to become a Coversure franchise owner.