Michaela Dolk Graduate, Nat Cat Specialist, Swiss Re Institute, Armonk, New York, USA

“The rotation opportunities are absolutely phenomenal.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

I’m a hydrologist by training, having studied environmental systems in Australia and water science management and policy in the UK. As a student, I worked part time at a large insurer and an actuarial consulting firm, as well as in research labs. The Swiss Re Institute appealed to me as an opportunity to combine work in the private sector with research.

What is your current role?

Right now, I’m on a rotation with the Insurance-Linked Securities team in New York City. I’m working on all kinds of projects, from helping the structuring team with the latest transactions to looking at how hurricanes and fires may affect cat bonds and their pricing. In my home team in Armonk, I focus on flood perils in the Americas. For instance, I’ve contributed to the development of flood models and solutions to serve the growing private flood insurance market. In both cases, there’s been a wide range of things for me to work on, so every day is different.

How is the Swiss Re Graduates Programme special?

The rotation opportunities are absolutely phenomenal. Having the freedom to choose a team to spend time with and learn from is invaluable for developing a sense of your long-term career possibilities. The team project that all graduates complete is also a great way to gain new insights into Swiss Re and the industry.

Stefano Radaelli Graduate, Business Analyst, Portfolio Underwriting, Zurich, Switzerland

“People here are super available, helpful and generous with their knowledge.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

I got to know Swiss Re through an internship while studying statistics at university. I applied for the Graduates Programme because I liked the atmosphere and the people and wanted to broaden my professional experience.

What do you like most about working at Swiss Re?

The culture – people here are super available, helpful and generous with their knowledge and feedback. I also appreciate the positive impact that reinsurance has on the world.

How is the Swiss Re Graduates Programme special?

To me what’s most special about the programme is the fact that you’re embedded in a real business team and at the same time able to rotate through other teams to get an overview of different areas and career paths. Right now, for instance, I’m doing a rotation in Hong Kong. The programme is also a great opportunity to network with the other graduates, who are very international and diverse, and to leverage that network in your job.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

At the end of my rotation in the global portfolio management team, I had the chance to present the results of my work to the Group Chief Underwriting Officer, who was very supportive. It was exciting to get that kind of senior exposure and input.

Thembekani Gwegwana Graduate, Marketing Actuarial, Reinsurance, Cape Town, South Africa

“I work in a global team with ample opportunities to expand my network both domestically and abroad.“

What are the benefits of working at Swiss Re?

I see many benefits, both now and ahead of the road. For me the network is the biggest positive. It’s like gaining a whole new family, except it is spread throughout the world. Every coffee or lunch you share with someone is a chance to learn something that could possibly change your life. 

How is the Swiss Re Graduates Programme special?

The opportunity to work on different projects in your own team as well as in job rotations is special. It helps you develop not only technical skills but soft skills too. Also, as a graduate at Swiss Re, your manager is really a mentor – someone who has walked the journey and is willing to take your hand and help you navigate your development path and career objectives. 

What has been your proudest moment so far?

I was instrumental in conducting Swiss Re's Individual Volume Survey for the South African life market. It gave me the opportunity to work with senior managers and some of our clients. The project also gave me an opportunity to improve on my data analytics skills and presentation skills. My proudest moment so far is receiving feedback on how valuable the survey is for our clients. It provides key insights into the market, which our clients can use to improve their competitive position.

Do you take advantage of Swiss Re’s flexible working policies?

I am currently completing my actuarial exams in addition to working full time. Being empowered to decide when and where I work makes it easier to balance these different aspects of my life. 

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Yajie Shen Graduate, Client Manager, Property & Casualty, Reinsurance, Beijing, China

“I wanted to work for a good cause, not just to earn money.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

This is my second job since completing my economics studies in the UK. My first was at a start-up consultancy where I found the work rather repetitive and saw little opportunity for growth. I decided to move into finance, but I wanted to work for a good cause, not just to earn money. Swiss Re seemed like a perfect fit.

What do you like most about working at Swiss Re?

My rotation in the Asset Management team in Zurich has been the high point so far. I’m working in responsible investing, looking at things like the impacts of climate change on our business. This topic is far from my day-to-day job, but I’m passionate about it and fortunate that Swiss Re made the rotation possible.

How is the Swiss Re Graduates Programme special?

What I appreciate most is even the most senior executives genuinely care about my personal growth and career development. Regardless of whether they’re directly responsible for me, people here want me to live up to my full potential and are always happy to help when I reach out.

What motivates you every day?

Knowing that I’ll learn new things – about our clients, about our industry or about a particular reinsurance structure and how it can help one of our clients and even the world. Day by day, I’ve gone from being a clueless outsider to contributing to discussions that really matter to the business.

Arnold Tsz Cheuk Ho Graduate, Risk Analyst, Risk Management Reinsurance, London, UK

“Every day I leave work knowing more than when I came.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

After my studies in civil engineering, I chose to go into finance because many of my skills, like research and data analysis, could be transferred. I knew Swiss Re was a big brand, but what really impressed me was the work environment. I thought of finance as more traditional – working in a cubicle without talking to anyone, basically. At Swiss Re I saw people hot-desking and interacting with each other, and I liked the idea of that.

How is Swiss Re's Graduates Programme special?

What’s most special is the exposure to people from different areas. You get to know what they’re doing and at the same time build your reputation. The group project and the rotations are also great. The graduate experience is about getting a broad knowledge base before deciding where to deepen your expertise.

What do you like most about working at Swiss Re?

My colleagues are always willing to explain things, no matter how many questions I ask. This allows me to find out what’s behind a certain number on a report, a piece of regulation or why we do things in a certain way. This is very valuable early in your career. Every day I leave work knowing more than when I came.

Do you take advantage of Swiss Re’s flexible work practices?

Yes, I work from home occasionally. It lets me get my work done but have life go on around me. There are events that are unpredictable, and at Swiss Re you get the support you need to deal with them.

Gianluca Olgiati Graduate, Claims Specialist, Property & Casualty Business Management Zurich, Switzerland

“Every day, I feel lucky to come to work.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

I already knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance when I was a master’s student in banking and finance. The reinsurance industry seemed really interesting when I learned about it at university, so I did an internship at Swiss Re. I loved the culture and the company so much that after graduation I applied for the Swiss Re Graduates Programme, without having a plan B.

How is the programme special?

Relative to other programmes, Swiss Re’s is unique in that it lets you join a specific team, your "home base", and also gives you the opportunity to do job rotations in different locations and business areas. The rotations are a big added value – I’ve done one in the Casualty Underwriting team in Zurich, and the other in Life & Health Solutions in Hong Kong. During these rotations, it was great to know you always have one foot in your “home base”.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

During my rotation in Hong Kong, a senior colleague leading the Cyber claims network asked me to accompany her on a trip to Australia, to support her with a client presentation. Given that I work intensively on the topic, my request to join her was granted, and we spent 14 hours on a Sunday preparing for the presentation. The presentation went well, and when I could finally relax, I realised how exciting it was to have had this work opportunity, even though I’m just at the start of my career.

What motivates you every day?

Every day, I feel lucky to come to work. I’m always building my knowledge, taking more responsibilities, and getting chances to prove myself. I also have an incredible manager, who believes in me and gives me all the opportunities and exposure
I ask for, which is extremely rewarding.

Jessica Farrow Graduate, Business Analyst, Financial Risk Management IT, London, UK

“The programme combines a clear structure with enough freedom to shape it to your own goals.“

What path led you to Swiss Re?

This is my first job since earning my degree in economics. Originally, I wanted to go into investment banking, but I realised that wasn’t the right path for me. I applied at Swiss Re because it has a purpose that’s meaningful to me and allows for a good work-life balance.

How do you help make the world more resilient?

I work in an IT team that helps the financial risk management team monitor and manage exposure to credit and market risks. We build the world’s resilience by building Swiss Re’s resilience – so the company can pay out claims when needed.

How is Swiss Re's Graduates Programme special?

Participants go through the initial training all together in Zurich, which gives you a strong network from day one. This makes it easier not only to organise a rotation but also to benefit from expertise across the company in your daily work. The programme combines a clear structure with enough freedom to shape it to your own goals. For example, you can decide about where you do your rotation or have a mentor. My manager has been nothing but supportive of my choice to do both.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment is yet to come. I’m going to present what I’ve learned from my rotations at an upcoming town hall. It really speaks for Swiss Re’s culture that when I asked for this opportunity, my department’s leaders were open enough to say yes.