Shweta Sonawane: A Risk Management Expert Building Trust Among Clients In Today's Intangible Insurance Market

Shweta Sonawane

According to a Hartford study on the insurance market, women drive the insurance industry, with over 60 percent of the workforce. However, leadership is where we find inequality. Women occupy only 19 percent of board seats, 11 percent named inside officer positions, and 12 percent of top officer positions such as CEO, COO, and CFO. Shweta Sonawane, COO at Emirates International Insurance Brokers is a leading name who has broken the stereotypes and placed herself at a top position in UAE’s insurance industry.

Emirates International Insurance Brokers (EIIB) has created a niche for itself by offering risk management, insurance advisory, and placement services to corporate’s, government organizations as well as SMEs, and high-net-worth individuals. In an exclusive interview with Women Entrepreneur, Shweta gives us an insight into the company and the insurance market at large.

Take Us Through Your Early Educational Journey And Prior Industry Experience. Also, Give Us An Overview Of Emirates International Insurance Brokers.

I was born and brought up in Pune, India, and completed my specialization in Economics at Pune University. My father was a lawyer and my mother is from the field of Media. Growing up I wanted to do something in performing arts or media and never really thought of business or insurance for that matter. I came to Dubai in 2004. My introduction to the Insurance industry was accidental. However, it quickly turned into a passion and now after 17 years, it's very much a part of me.

Emirates International Insurance Brokers is completing 20 years as a company in Nov 2022. We don’t have a traditional sales force which I believe is quite a unique setup. We have extremely low staff turnover and that’s because we have created a very healthy work environment. Investing in the right talent and nurturing them is key. We are extremely customer-centric in our approach and that I feel is a secret to our success. In a saturated market like this, we have created a niche for ourselves. Biggest skyscrapers, Weddings, Concerts, Aqua farms, IMF meets to Supercars, we have insured everything and it’s quite exciting.

Tell Us About The Responsibilities You Shoulder As The COO. What Are Some Of The Most Pressing Business Challenges That You Face?

I have many responsibilities at EIIB, important ones being business strategy, operational excellence, product development, team building, business development, partnerships and key account management. The biggest challenge is retaining your clients and maintaining their expectations in terms of service.

I am obsessed with perfection as far as customer service is concerned. Creating a loyal client base takes years but one mistake or error of judgment can end this loyalty in a jiffy. At EIIB we take this responsibility very seriously and always go the extra mile to meet customer expectations. The formula is quite, simple one must always be honest and never oversell/overpromise anything. I have learned that clients appreciate integrity above all else.

What Are Some Of The Most Significant Milestones That You Have Achieved? Tell Us About The Driving Force Behind Your Success As A Leader.

EIIB will complete 20 years in Nov 2022 and I have seen it grow exponentially from its early days. We have been through many ups and downs whether it was the 2008 market crash or the 2020 pandemic, we have seen it all and not only survived but thrived. The company has seen double-digit growth consistently over the past few years with more than 90 percent client retention which says it all. I think this has been possible because we are very focused on our goals and never really waver from the core principles of the company.

"The company has seen double digit growth consistently over the past few years with more than 90 percent client retention which really says it all"

My father used to always say that one must bring passion into every job, I quite literally follow his advice in my day-to-day life. Throughout my career, I have found wonderful allies who have helped me grow in my career as well as personally. I love a good challenge and that’s what gets me going every morning.

How Do You Foresee The Insurance Landscape In UAE Evolving Going Forward? Tell Us About Some Of The Key Trends Developing In The Said Industry.

UAE is a vibrant economy. We are seeing huge digitization at all levels and I feel the Insurance industry in UAE is also experiencing this digital revolution. It will be very interesting to see how an otherwise traditional industry will adapt to this emerging trend.

What Would Your Advice Be To Young Women & Girls Who Aspire To Become Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs In The Future?

Women are natural leaders and we are gifted with multitasking abilities. Firstly, it’s important to learn the craft of the industry you wish to be in. Secondly, a genuine self-evaluation is necessary. Once we know our strengths and weaknesses it’s easy to work from there. There are no shortcuts to success and there is no substitute for hard work. Everyone is on their journey so it’s important not to lose focus and stay consistent on your path. Spending time and observing other industry leaders helps. As they say, one must be a student for life! It goes true for business also.

Shweta Sonawane, COO, Emirates International Insurance Brokers

Shweta has been associated with EIIB for the past 15 years. A Graduate with Specialization in Economics. She is an insurance professional with over 17 years’ experience in UAE Insurance industry. She has extensive knowledge on Risk Management, Product Development, Employee Benefits, General Insurance, Affinity Programs, Claims Management, and Key Account Management.

Quick Facts:

- Educational Qualification - Bachelor of Arts Specialization in Economics.

- Headquarter & Other Office Locations

- UAE - Awards of Recognitions won so far - Featured in the book Icon's of Maharashtra in UAE.

- A business leader you admire - Warren Buffet.


Emirates International Insurance Brokers