Tina Kripps, scheme actuary and corporate adviser at Willis Towers Watson was named Mentor of the Year at the Women in Pensions Awards. She speaks to Stephanie Baxter about helping others
What does winning the Mentor of the Year Award mean to you?
I am just so pleased to win an award, especially for something I really enjoy. I strongly believe mentoring is immensely beneficial for both mentor and mentee but it does take time, commitment and effort. For me, this award is recognition that mentoring is valued by the pensions industry and I hope by shining a spotlight on it, it will encourage others to take the time to mentor and be mentored.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
Aim high - you will never know what you can and can't do unless you try and fail or try and achieve. The greatest skills I have learned are when things did not go as well as I would have hoped. This is why I do not buy into the culture of wanting to set up women to only succeed in particular roles. I believe it makes organisations too cautious in putting women forward for senior roles. Additionally, a good employer should be honest with the individual on the challenges of any role.
The Women in Pensions Awards Winners Series
What has been your greatest achievement or one that you are most proud of that demonstrates your ability to act as a role model for women?
I have a number of different roles at work that I enjoy and am proud of my achievements within them. One role in particular to call out is my achievements as a scheme actuary. I believe it does demonstrate to women that it is a great career path for them.
I kept my scheme actuary clients on return from maternity leave, and I believe that this was due to the strong trusted relationships I built up before I went on leave. I also did take on other appointments on my return. With a young family and working part-time, I was very honest with my clients about the days I worked and what support they had access to while I was not available. For example, I was open in telling them if I had an assembly/sports day to attend.
I passionately believe in building long-term trusted relationships. This partnership only works if you are true to your values, acting honestly and with integrity. The scheme actuary role is high profile and strategic. I have demonstrated to women (and men) that being a scheme actuary is a good career choice as it relies on building sustainable relationships, which are achievable despite having other commitments, and working flexibly enabling career development to continue.
What has been your experience working as a woman in the pensions industry?
I have only ever worked in the pensions industry. To be honest I only notice I am in the minority when I go to conferences/seminars. While I noted many of my clients over the years (particularly trustees) have been male, I have always felt they respected my input, values and opinions (even if they did not always agree) so it has never been something that has concerned me.
Between the industry and the clients we look after, we all need to do our bit to ensure clients are provided with a diverse choice of adviser and that inclusivity is positively embraced.
What is your top tip for women looking to progress or start a career in the pensions industry?
It is an exciting and ever changing role. I joined the industry shortly after the 1995 Pensions Act was introduced, and learned that while there was a lot of history in pensions, there was also a lot of change. This has only continued over time. I have certainly seen in pensions that you can become a valued expert early on in your career, and this has continued to be the theme over the last 20 years.
The skills you learn are also transferrable - where else can you obtain the blend of leadership skills, relationship building, technical skills, management skills, team working and developing new areas of expertise? So whether pensions is a long-term career or not for people, I think the skills they gain will be invaluable to other industries.
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