Women in Strategy: Sophie Briolat, MLC Life Insurance
Sophie, currently a Strategy Manager at MLC Life Insurance, spent the first 7 years of her career in France. She started as a Management Consultant at Capgemini before joining Generali, where her responsibilities included creating and then managing a new business unit, from strategy definition through to implementation.
What were the main challenges you found moving to the Insurance Industry in Australia?
Moving 17,000km away from everyone you know comes with a few challenges obviously and I guess the main one was to be quickly operational as a strategy manager working in a completely new market, with new players, in a new company speaking a different language. But I was lucky enough to be part of a supportive team who welcomed diversity. Coming from the European life insurance industry was also strength because it enables me to provide a different point of view and challenge the thinking of the team. This was especially useful when I helped design a new customer proposition at Suncorp Life. I could explain how things work in other markets and give new perspective to the team I was working with.
What would be the key things that allowed you to get to where you are today and what do you attribute your success to?
Going out of my comfort zone. This is not an easy thing to do because you are obviously afraid of failing, you don’t always know how to overcome the difficulties. But it is also very rewarding and so valuable. The times when I learnt the most were when I took some risks (for instance when I accepted a job offer that was too senior for me first, or moved to Australia). The experience and the maturity you gain out of this are priceless.
Resilience. Change is inevitable and the velocity at which companies are evolving is increasing. In some companies, restructures happen every six months. Being resilient is therefore very important to keep focusing on what’s important and deliver as much value as possible to the organisation while going through a period of significant change.
Finally, my mentor at Generali used to say that fun is everything. If you don’t have fun in your job, where you spend most of your time, your performance and your relationships will eventually be impacted. Therefore, I always try to find something during a day that will bring that aspect to my job. It can be anything, from a conversation with a colleague to a meeting on a new project. But this is important to me to keep the energy going.
How did you know if it was the right time to make a move out of consulting into industry?
Consulting is an amazing opportunity to drive strategic initiatives in different industries, build your network, learn state-of-the-art methodologies and work with Senior Leadership teams. But at some point, I also wanted to gain a deeper understanding of a business and to not only be involved in developing a strategy but also in executing it. From my perspective, playing an active role in delivering on the strategy helps you be even more relevant in refining it.
What advice would you give to anyone else looking to pursue a strategy career in Australia?
It is a bold move and it can be scary but it’s definitely worth it! The Australian market offers a range of opportunities and companies are looking for people with the right skillset, regardless of where they come from.
If you are looking for your next role in Strategy or are interested in exploring the Strategy talent in the market please feel free to reach out to myself or one of our specialist consultants on the Strategy Team at Morgan McKinley.