Nadine Accaoui embraces change in her professional life. As well as several international moves throughout her career, she has also changed job descriptions. Starting out as an actuary in life insurance, she moved into credit insurance as Group Chief Actuary for Euler Hermes, and then became head of Actuarial P&C at Allianz SE. She then made the shift from actuarial work to finance, working as regional CFO. Nadine credits each transition with teaching her valuable life lessons.
“Every move has brought its challenges, but also opportunities to learn,” she says. “Each new place and role has resulted in me becoming a new version of myself. I’ve grown in confidence and independence, and learned how to ask the right questions quickly, benefitting from existing teams’ knowledge when starting a new role!”
Nadine grew up in Lebanon, and after earning a BS in actuarial sciences, joined Allianz Lebanon first as a junior underwriter, then as an actuary and chief actuary. While working, she wanted to pursue further studies in finance, but was encouraged by her father and the CEO of Allianz Lebanon to become a certified member of the American Association of Actuaries. “They told me to take the path less travelled by,” Nadine remembers. “But I knew it would take four years of studying – while working full time – to pass international actuarial exams. It was a difficult decision to make.”
It was also often an uphill battle. “Society can be very sceptical of women who study hard,” Nadine says, “and I faced my share of discouragement. But I saw actuarial studies as a way for me to build a career beyond the borders of my home country.” For Nadine, this turned out to be a good bet. Her international certification opened the door for her to become chief actuary of EH Group in Paris.
While her first job in Paris was intense, Nadine considers her move to Munich the most challenging of her career. “Germany was a completely different culture,” she explains. Moreover, “It was a proactive environment, where I had to constantly anticipate next steps. As my boss told me: ‘It’s like Formula 1 here – everybody is driving fast and you are competing with the best!’’’
Working within a multinational team also helped Nadine develop her ability to work with different mentalities. “Every culture has its advantages. I found the French agile and solution-oriented and the Germans efficient and direct. Both groups taught me to adapt my way of working and communicating.”
As Nadine has moved from job to job and place to place, she has collected valuable contacts and friends. “When I leave a job, the negative aspects fade – drudge work, office tension, that sort of thing,” she explains. “What’s important and long-lasting are the bridges you build with people.”
Trusting relationships and diverse talents are what Nadine believes create positive working environments and successful businesses. “For a team to be effective, you need different personalities and skill sets. That way you can leverage synergies within a team and develop everyone’s potential.”