Special Interest Group:

Women in CILA

The Women in CILA group was formed in 2015 and was inspired by the appointment of Candy Holland as the first female President of the CILA. The group takes positive action to address the current gender imbalance in CILA qualification progression. Their work includes researching barriers to female progression, providing role models in loss adjusting, creating networking opportunities and encouraging female participation in Institute actvities.

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SIG Committee


Candy Holland - Echelon Claims Consultants


  • Terri Adams - Cunningham Lindsey UK
  • Kim Alcock - Davies Group Ltd
  • Maggie Cowing - Crawford & Company
  • Ruth Delacour
  • Helena Evans - Davies Group Ltd
  • Michelle Haynes - Stream Claims Services
  • Ann Hewlett - Arthur J Gallagher
  • Angela Hughes - Crawford & Company

Latest Updates

Sonia Davies

Sonia Davies Cert CII Cert CILA BDMA.InsTech has spent 6 years working in the insurance industry. She is currently employed by Davies Group as a Loss Adjuster.

After college, I found myself in a fairly ordinary 9 -5 office job for a year before I began working in the insurance industry. Whilst I recognised that this did not reflect my childhood aspirations of becoming an Oceanographer, I was still driven to achieve more than just ‘ordinary’.

I therefore decided I wanted to progress my insurance career and begin studying alongside my desk job. I was working for an insurance company when I studied for, and passed, the Cert CII qualification. After achieving this qualification I felt motivated to learn more about the technical aspects of insurance so started a role as an Adjuster Assistant at Davies Group in December 2013.

In at the deep end

I joined two weeks before a surge of bad weather over the Christmas period. Those that work in loss adjusting know this means, in at the deep end and all hands on deck – a perfect introduction to the adjusting world and I was in admiration of those in field roles.

Life “on the road”

In September 2014 I was encouraged by colleagues to apply for a field based role within the business as a claims inspector, my first field role, dealing with scoping lower value building claims. During this period, I commenced study with CILA. This role gave me practical experience and an insight to what life was like “on the road”.

Davies have continued to encourage and support me into my current role as a Loss Adjuster, which I eagerly accepted in March 2017, handling commercial and domestic losses. I am also progressing with my CILA studies. It can be difficult juggling work, study and hobbies so time management is essential!

I am still fairly new to this role with much to learn, however I am thoroughly enjoying having a career which is constantly challenging, spontaneous and rewarding - I don’t think everyone can say that about their jobs!

Holland Candy RGB 2016 003

When I was CILA President, I realised how few qualified and senior women there are in loss adjusting. Only 5% of Chartered Loss Adjusters are female.

I believe we need to look at what the barriers are to women furthering their careers in our profession, what’s stopping more women being in senior positions and how we can better support women through all stages of their working lives.

Workplace culture

Although I don’t feel that being a woman has limited my career progression, it is true to say that as a woman I have sometimes felt excluded in different ways and at various times on the journey.

For example, I am often the only woman in meetings and because it has been this way throughout my career it is not daunting and is quite normal to me.  However there have been occasions when I felt I had a very different viewpoint to my male colleagues and either didn’t have the confidence to voice my views or simply couldn’t get a word in edgeways!

Social and marketing events typically involved sport and pubs. I remember a female senior sales colleague, in about 2000, exploding one day with frustration about how much business was done in the pub after working hours and how career limiting that was for her.

On many occasions I didn’t feel I could be myself - I had to be considered as one of the boys to be accepted and fit in. I was pretending to be one of them rather than being myself. 

I didn’t have anyone to share this with at the time but things are changing and improving and now this is recognised as a common issue. I certainly think sharing experiences can help women deal with such challenges.

Work life balance

It’s not easy having children and maintaining your career but a lot has changed since I became a mum. When I had young children I barely talked about them because I was worried that people would judge me as unprofessional.

In those days, only 20 years ago, men didn’t leave early to pick up their kids from school – how things have changed! Parents seeking a good work life balance is acceptable now. I have heard the view that flexible working and loss adjusting are not compatible but that is absolutely not the case.

So here are a few messages that I would convey to anyone who wishes to progress their career in loss adjusting:                

  • Supporters are really important, recognise them and when you find yours, keep them, you will have them for life.
  • The importance of good networking, establishing connections and making the most of them cannot be underestimated. Make the time to keep in touch with people and your efforts will be well rewarded both personally and professionally.
  • Visibility - contribute to a project that will get you noticed. Ask questions, show you are interested, go outside of your role and look for something for you to make your mark.
  • Authenticity – a word that’s used a lot and is so important. Be your own person, be true to yourself and don’t compromise your principles. Speak plainly and honestly, stand up for what you believe in.  
  • Find what you enjoy and are interested in – then go for it! Don’t get stuck in a rut and accept that you can’t progress. Assume you can. Express an interest in something and ask what you will need to do to get there.
  • Professionalism and qualifications – take exams, show you have something different, that you are committed to progressing. Everyone’s talking about the skills gap – where is the next generation going to come from? Show that you can plug that gap.
  • Ask for help and advice from someone you respect. They will be delighted to help and it may be the start of a great mentoring partnership. 

And last but definitely not least:

Confidence and self-belief - I never expected different treatment as a woman and so I didn’t even think about it. I just assumed I would do my job and always did my best. So be your own person and be confident. 

Kim Alcock CILA Annual Lunch for website

Kim Alcock, LLM ACII FCILA AInstLM has spent over 20 years working within loss adjusting and claims management.  She is currently employed by Davies Group as Director for Strategic Accounts and Business Development.


What I learned at school...

Instilling pupils with the belief to succeed was low on the agenda at my school.  “Amounting to nothing” was a common theme.  At least it was applied to everyone, so I didn’t leave school thinking my gender would hold me back. I used the negativity to develop a gritty determination which has served me quite well over the years. 

There are very few substitutes for hard work...

We can all pick up some handy time saving hacks, but generally, if you want to succeed, you need to have drive, commitment and focus.  That doesn’t mean putting in more hours than everyone else, all of the time.  Of course, there are periods when you do need to work overtime or spend your free time studying. My career was certainly helped by gaining my professional qualifications at an early stage.  They gave me the solid technical grounding to act decisively and with confidence.

But it’s also important to have balance...

Don’t be ‘a glum’ – find time for friends, family and pursuing hobbies and interests that you enjoy!

I never leave home without a warm coat and comfy shoes...

A definite must with our UK weather, especially if you are in a field role. On a recent team building exercise, I learned that they are also essential for desert survival!

Loss adjusting has proved to be a varied and interesting career choice...

I’ve been lucky enough to work in a diverse range of technical, operational and client facing roles over the years, which have involved plenty of new people, places and challenges. 

In my early years, I enjoyed the excitement of managing major losses and have been lucky enough to be involved in some interesting and high profile cases that made national headlines.

Loss adjusting has also been flexible enough to accommodate my other role, as mum to 2 boys. I opted for operational management when they were younger, as the hours were more regular.

As someone with a low boredom threshold, the variety of roles, on offer, has certainly suited me.

When my boys complain that something is ‘boring’ I tell them that learning to deal with boredom is a life skill, but despite the varied nature of my work, it’s definitely something I’m still working on.

If you want to succeed – make sure your expectations are ambitious but realistic...

Setting and managing expectations is something that I have always been comfortable with at work.   As a parent, it’s trickier.  What I’ve learned is that if you’re too tired to get all of the ironing finished on Sunday night; so what? Put your feet up.  Boys aren’t fazed by crumpled uniforms! And if you forget that packed lunch; don’t worry.  Kids are quite capable of knocking up a sandwich! 

When it comes to the really important choices between work and parenting, instinctively, I think us working mums get it right most of the time.  When I don’t, I try to just put it behind me.

Have confidence, take ownership and don’t waste time stressing about what others think...

I speak my mind and share my opinions.  I try to respect others and not to offend.  I understand the benefits of a well timed apology.  But I think it’s damaging to be constantly worrying about what others think or trying to pre-empt their reactions.  It just creates indecision and self-doubt.

Ultimately, we all have very little power to influence the minds of others.

I was very lucky to have a good mentor in my early years in Loss adjusting...

He once suggested that he had forgotten more knowledge in his career than I had acquired.  Now I’m at that age, I’d like to think that I’m selectively discarding those facts that are no longer of use to me.  (But, can anyone remember where I left my reading glasses?)  I’ve also taken on some mentoring myself.  It’s great to help and support the next generation of claims professionals and it gives me a fresh perspective on things. I’ve certainly become more open to views and interests that my younger self would never have entertained. I’d also like to think I’ve become a little more patient over the years (raised eyebrows from husband suggest there’s still some way to go with that one!).

Building the Career you want

In 2016 the Women in CILA group hosted an interactive seminar entitled Building the Career you want. The feedback from this event was so positive that we asked the speaker, Katherine Bryant, to summarise her advice.

Know the keys to success
Building the career you want starts with having clarity on what success means to you. Success is utterly subjective and means different things to different people. There are however 6 things which are keys to success and they apply whatever your definition of success is:

1. Clarity – knowing who you are, where you want to be and what you want
2. Authentic confidence – being your true self with confidence
3. Strong personal brand – your reputation is everything, especially in a close-knit market like insurance
4. The ability to influence and lead – whatever level you are or aspire to, whether a manager, director or board level role you need to be able to influence and lead
5. Powerful network – internal and external to your organisation, relationships are essential to success
6. Balance – the ability to create the life you want with balance

Successful woman

Learn to self promote

The one thing that countless senior women say is that the most valuable thing they have learnt in their careers is the ability to self promote. This is backed up by research showing how self promotion has the biggest impact on career success and something men are often much better at doing. Self promotion is not something that comes naturally to us for three main reasons,

1) we don’t feel we should have to do it, our work should be judged on merit alone
2) we feel we could be ostracised, nobody likes a bragger!
3) it feels icky and uncomfortable

So, we can either choose to work harder than ever before, burn the night oil and become increasingly bitter about still not being recognised or, we can bite the bullet and start to talk about our achievements.

Here are a few things you can start doing to promote yourself:

Sharing your story – think about how to talk about your successes, make a note of your achievements to not only share with your boss on reviews but to share with others.
Building relationships – your network is key and the second most important factor in career success. Surround yourself with good people, internal and external, to share your stories with.
Shining the spotlight on others – to help your peers and team members (which by the way always reflects well on you!)
Call it out and challenge bias - women are often judged more harshly for certain behaviours than men so when you hear a woman called “aggressive”, “bossy,” or “hysterical” request a specific example of what she did and then ask “would you have the same reaction if a man did the same thing?” In many cases, the answer will be no – the behaviour would be seen as “assertive”, “directive” or “angry” which have very different connotations. The more we bring bias to the fore, the quicker it can be dispelled.
Sponsor - you do not need to be senior to be a sponsor. Sponsorship is simply advocating for someone.

For more tips and ideas click on the link for a free copy of my non-icky self-promotion toolkit. Start doing these things and be the change you want to see.



The Progress Partnership, works exclusively with risk and insurance professionals. We help brokers, insurers, loss adjusters and service providers to build and lead high-performing teams – ensuring the success and longevity of their business.

We specialise in providing tailored leadership, management and personal development training solutions based on our deep market insight & the most up to date research and psychology. What sets us apart is our unique approach based on extensive market knowledge and experience of working in the industry.

We help you achieve success with:

• A portfolio of fast paced 90 minute, ½ day and 1 day workshops ensuring engagement & that fit easily into the working day
• High energy keynote motivational talks (1 – 1.5hrs) perfect for leadership away days or conferences
The Insurance Breakfast Club – a unique leadership development group for insurance professionals
• In person or telephone coaching sessions with expert coaches

Visit our website at www.theprogresspartnership.com

Katherine Bryant, Founder of the Progress Partnership has a career spanning over two decades in the insurance industry. A passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, Katherine speaks regularly at industry events and is a trustee of Dress for Success, a charity helping women return to the workplace.


Helena Evans

I am part of the ‘Women in CILA’ group which was formed in 2015 and was inspired by the appointment of Candy Holland as the first female President of the CILA. The group takes positive action to address the current gender imbalance in CILA qualification progression. There are currently only 51 female Chartered Loss Adjusters in the world.

I am proud to say Davies for me has been a company that does allow female progression. I have joined the group hoping that my career history will show other women that it is possible in a traditionally male dominated profession to succeed as a woman.

I started Loss Adjusting in 1991 at the distant age of 19. At that time there were very few female adjusters. I would attend conferences that were a sea of men in suits. Being so young and female I was lucky in such a male dominated profession to be given the opportunity by my first manager. What apparently caught his interest was that I managed to persuade him to put forward my interview date, a first sign of skills required by a Loss Adjuster - negotiation.

The tools of the trade were slightly more primitive in those days ...... a map ( that used to fall off the front seat of the car if you braked too fast ) coins for the phone box to call a policyholder if you were running late, letters, an ‘Argos’ catalogue for contents validation, walking to the chemist to collect your photographs to stick on your report, the dreaded urgent FAX ... with finally the bolt from the blue when you walked into the office to be hit with the file that had 'kicked off' whilst you were out.

But despite the introduction of Sat Nav’s, laptops, digital dictation, digital photos, smartphones, Google, the dreaded urgent email and ‘twitter’, the art of adjusting is still the same. It is the ability to communicate with people, using your soft skills to deal with the different types of individuals you meet so that you form a relationship which enables you to manage and progress their claim to conclusion.

The best part to me about Loss Adjusting is the visit, you never know until they open that door how the policyholder will react, what their house is like, no one claim is ever the same.

I was lucky enough three years after I had started adjusting to assist on a CAT team in Antigua for six weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Luis. Driving all over the devastated island on my own helping the locals in the villages was one of the best 'work' experiences I have had.

Becoming a working Mum

 After 7 years of Loss Adjusting I left to start my family. I became a ‘stay at home mum’ and did not envisage that having had children that there would be the flexibility in such a male dominated profession to return to work.

However, I contacted an ex colleague with his own company and was given the opportunity to start contract adjusting initially, one or two claims a week and managed to fit this in around being 'mummy' which helped regain my confidence. I then recognised I could maybe continue my career.

During the surge of winter 2010/2011 I was offered a full time six month contract job which was a perfect opportunity to decide whether I could cope with ‘full on’ Loss Adjusting whilst bringing up three children. I was very lucky that my manager at the time offered me flexible working hours if necessary, on the understanding I made up the time in the evening.

I loved it. I got my confidence back, and enjoyed being back with colleagues. I was then offered a permanent job. At this point I felt as if I was starting a new chapter of my life and getting my career back.

Qualifying as a Chartered Loss Adjuster

I then decided I wanted to qualify. At the time, a few months into a full time job with a 5, 8 and 11 year old I did question my crazy decision to study, but I persevered and passed all three ACILA papers, just leaving the dissertations and final interview to complete.

I moved to Davies two and a half years ago and plucked up the courage to write my seven dissertations. Shortly after starting these I was suddenly taken ill and had a year of three major surgical procedures. This made me even more determined to complete my qualification.

I returned to work to a promotion into the Private Clients and Major Loss unit and then applied to sit my final CILA interview. It was one of the most nerve wracking days of my life, but worth if for the relief I felt when I passed. I felt so proud to finally be a Chartered Loss Adjuster and use those initials ….ACILA

Since then I have been lucky enough to be promoted again to Associate Director assisting my director run the Private Client and Major Loss team and also have the privilege of being on the Senior Leadership Team.

I love my job and its varied role, dealing with claims, client contact and leading a team. And I just hope this shows that it is possible as a woman to return to work as a Loss Adjuster, having had a family, to qualify and progress into management. If I can do it.... anyone can!

Helena Evans ACILA FIFAA
Associate Director – Private Clients and Major Loss
Davies Group Limited



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