Lara Teesdale

After graduating university in New Zealand with a law degree, I worked in the corporate law team at international law firm DLA Piper from 2013-2015.

I then moved in-house to Tower Insurance and found my calling in governance. I worked as Legal Counsel and Governance Manager at Tower, during which time I learnt a huge amount about both governance and the insurance industry. I developed a passion for governance at a time when there was a lot of regulatory change happening in New Zealand. Regulators were focussing heavily on the implementation and execution of good governance, particularly following failings in the financial services sector during and after the Global Financial Crisis. I worked closely with the Board of Directors and Management at Tower to implement good governance practices and promote positive change across the organisation. I was encouraged by very supportive colleagues to take every opportunity I could to develop my career and leadership skills, and this resulted in my promotion to Company Secretary and Governance Manager in 2018.

By late 2018, my partner and I decided that it was time to pursue another passion – travel. We moved to the UK in October 2018 and I started working at Markel International shortly thereafter. Initially on a fixed term contract in the in-house legal team, it became clear that my skills in governance and Company Secretarial would be valuable, with the current Company Secretary due to retire in early 2020 following over 40 years of service at the company. During 2019, I was promoted to Assistant Company Secretary, then Deputy Company Secretary, and from 1 January 2020, Company Secretary.

Markel International is a large UK company. Markel Corporation, the ultimate parent company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company looks after the commercial insurance needs of major businesses, SMEs, professionals and sole traders, and underwrites risks in its syndicates at Lloyd’s, and in the London insurance company market. Markel International has a number of branches throughout Europe and Asia.

I started at Markel a year and a half ago having limited knowledge of the London Insurance Market and no experience in UK governance. However, in a short space of time, with the support and encouragement of my colleagues, I have been promoted three times and become a valuable member of the Markel team. I provide governance guidance to directors and senior managers and look after all Markel International entities from a Company Secretarial perspective. This includes anything from implementing and improving decision-making processes across the business, to organising Board meetings and producing Board packs and minutes, to keeping company records and completing regulatory filings. In addition, I am leading and mentoring a junior colleague who is relatively new to a Company Secretarial career.

I am proud of my achievements in a short space of time. Taking over a role from an outstanding Company Secretary who has been an invaluable part of the business for over 40 years is no easy feat, but I view it as an exciting challenge and look forward to what the future holds for me as a governance professional in the UK insurance industry.