Michelle Ashby

Learning Leader – People Experience
Suncorp NZ & Chair of ANZIIF Women Council

Michelle’s career in insurance spans over 30 years.  She began her career in customer service roles in Dunedin and Auckland for GRE before moving into the sales area as a Business Development Manager at SunAlliance.  

After taking a break to have her family, Michelle returned to the industry in role responsible for underwriting for the Northern Region for Royal & SunAlliance.  She then moved into the learning function to set up a skills framework for the delivery of insurance training and discovered her passion for developing people.  

Michelle has had a variety of roles in learning over the last 10 years and is currently the Learning Leader for Suncorp New Zealand, where she is responsible for managing the learning budget and the delivery of learning and compliance training across the Vero and Asteron brands.

Michelle has been active in the insurance industry, having previously sat on ANZIIF’s Academic Council, is current a member of ANZIIF’s New Zealand Member Advisory Board, as well as being the Chair of ANZIIF Women’s Council since 2013.  

Melissa Cantell

Chief Operating Officer

Melissa Cantell is the Chief Operating Officer at IAG NZ.  Like many people, Melissa fell into insurance, having accumulated a broad range of experiences over her career.  She was a corporate lawyer for ten years, leading major M&A programs and business integrations in New Zealand, Australia and Asia.  Melissa then moved into general management roles with global consumer products organisations such as Fonterra and Coca-Cola, leading end-to-end business operations and strategic transformations.  Now, Melissa is an insurance convert, and is passionate about delivering exceptional customer experiences in such a meaningful industry.  In her role as COO, she is focused on building a simple and agile organisation that delivers sustainable high performance.

Stu Cooper

General Manager
Certus Insurance Brokers NZ

Stu Cooper is the General Manager of an independent Fire and General Insurance business located in Auckland, focused on providing professional advice to Local Businesses and Families to help protect their assets. After spending over a decade working and leading in the Insurance Industry for billion dollar companies, medium sized firms and small locally owned and run business, Stu has experienced first-hand many times the conversations people have with team members about career progressions, developing leadership skills, and gaining experience for people to progress their career. Having worked with people in all stages of their careers, he has realised it’s about tapping into the emotional side of what millennials want to achieve, not mastering the new HR buzz word that drives the conversation forward. Prior to joining the Insurance industry Stu studied to be an educator, and it is this lifelong desire to help people learn and grow that drives his philosophy, believing that it is truly through shared knowledge and experience that people get the chance to develop and grow to be where they would like to be.

Stacy Gould

Liability Underwriter
QBE Insurance & Vice President of YIPS NZ

Like most people, Stacy Gould fell into the insurance industry close to 10 years ago when she landed a role in the commercial underwriting sector during her move from Palmerston North to Auckland. Her roles have ranged from Assistant, Team Leader to Underwriter. Today, Stacy has 5 years of liability underwriting experience and specialises in Financial Lines at QBE NZ.


It is said that once you fall into insurance, you never really get out. In 2012 Stacy moved to Canada to work with an Olympic horse rider for a year but as her working visa expired, she was once again allured by all this great industry has to offer.


Her busy role, alongside being the NZ Vice President on the Young Insurance Professionals committee means work life balance is a main priority. An active relaxer, she enjoys a range of hobbies including Equestrian, Motorsport, Fishing and the outdoors. Involvement in many different things over her years means Stacy has built many life skills which allows her to work seamlessly on projects, with all walks of life. 

Petra Lucioli

Claims Manager
Delta Insurance NZ

Petra has around 20 years’ experience in liability claims management. She spent a number of years as a litigation lawyer in the UK before moving into the London insurance market as a claims manager, handling professional liability risks and managing a claims team of up to 40 staff before moving to New Zealand in 2008.  She now manages the claims function at Delta Insurance, where she also oversees the development of the company’s underwriting system. Petra is passionate about improving claims service and processes, and helping clients improve their Risk Management.

John Lyon

Chief Executive Officer
Ando Insurance

John is CEO and co-founder of Ando, a new insurance player in the NZ market.  John has had many years of insurance leadership, including 6 years as CEO of Lumley NZ, before starting Ando.  Under John’s leadership, Ando has quickly become a key force for innovation and challenge, as it seeks to deliver customer-centric technologies to make things faster, simpler and more convenient for consumers and partners.  John’s vision for Ando is also to make it a brilliant employment brand, with a vibrant culture that supports the evolving needs of the workforce.

Monica Maharaj

Regional Claims Manager – Liability
New Zealand Insurance

Monica Maharaj is the Northern Regional Liability Claims Manager for NZI based in Auckland. She has held prior roles as Claims Manager and Debt Recoveries Manager whilst at Lumley General Insurance. Monica was also appointed Acting Liability Underwriting Manager for Lumley during the acquisition of Lumley by IAG.  Prior to working in the insurance industry, Monica worked in litigation and employment law in both private law firms in addition to working as in-house counsel at The Warehouse. Monica has a Masters in Law with Distinction in Employment and Commercial Law. She also sits on the Board of Dress for Success Auckland, is Co-President of the Insurance Network (formerly Not The Boys Club) and an Emerging Leader of the NZ Asian Leaders network.

Jo Mason

Chief Executive Officer

Jo has more than 30 years insurance industry experience, both in New Zealand and Australia.

In July 2016, Jo was appointed CEO of NZbrokers. Prior to this she was National Manager - Underwriting Agencies and Cluster Groups at Allianz Australia, a role that had responsibility for the strategic growth and development of the Specialised Agencies, including Global Transport, Strata Community Insurance and Pet Plan.

Preceding this role, Jo was NZI's GM Corporate and Facilities in Auckland where she helped lead the integration of the Lumley NZ business into IAG.

Jo attended INSEAD business school in France & Singapore completing an Advanced Management Programme.

Benita Murray

Senior Account Manager
Aon New Zealand

Benita began her insurance career with FAI in Sydney in 1998.  Benita moved to New Zealand in 2001 and has worked predominately in the intermediated space since then enjoying roles in claims management, underwriting and most significantly broking.  In 2016, whilst Broker Manager at JRI, Benita’s team was awarded the TSB Bank / Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards - Service Industry Excellence Award.  Providing top-class service that addresses clients' specific circumstances and their broader needs is the most important thing to Benita as a professional adviser.

Sarah O’Connell

General Manager
Gallagher Bassett NZ

For the past eight years Sarah owned and lead TriEx, New Zealand’s leading workplace health, safety and wellness provider. Sarah is now General Manager for TriEx Gallagher Bassett New Zealand.

Sarah’s career began in hospitality. Moving from Hotels into Professional Conferencing then Event Management. As well as being immersed in the operational side of conferencing and events she also held positions in sales and marketing, business and relationship development.

Sarah studied Management at Lincoln University and is a Certified Company Director and has been a yoga teacher for the past seven years. Sarah is mother to two courageous an independent daughters and ‘second support’ to two sons.  

Prior to TriEx she was New Zealand’s leading hospitality business coach both here in New Zealand with clients across Australia, Asia, the Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.  Sarah was also a professional speaker at his time.

Sarah is sits on the NZ Wellness Leaders Forum and is a Board Member of the Canterbury Safety Charter. 

She understands both the challenges and opportunities that present working in an ever changing environment and the great need in 2018 to be nimble.

For Sarah building relationships is the key to being in business.

Putting people first. Taking time to appreciate how other think, act and add value through their uniqueness - essential.          

Hetal Parmar

Account Executive – Health and Benefits
Willis Towers Watson & Chairperson of Women and Supporters Inclusion Network NZ

Hetal Parmar is the chairperson of the Women and Supporters Inclusion Network at Willis Towers Watson New Zealand, in addition to her Account Executive role within the Health and Benefits team. The Women and Supporters Inclusion Network aims to ensure that colleagues bring their ‘whole person’ to work each day to support an inclusive work environment where everyone is heard, respected and valued.

A strong believer of challenging the status quo, Hetal is passionate to help Willis Towers Watson reach their goal of future proofing the company to be an employer of choice. Hetal will be leading the network to facilitate professional development, mentoring, advocacy, education, awareness programs, and community partnerships involving women. Combining her passion for Willis Towers Watson values, Hetal is driven to be a “Champion for Change”.

Hetal’s career spans the health and life insurance sector and includes broking, underwriting, claims and professional studies in pharmacy.  Hetal is committed to providing a voice to women in the ever changing insurance industry.

Holly Reedman

Aurora Insurance Limited NZ

Holly Reedman was born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland in Australia. In her teens she found a real passion for the performing arts where she quickly excelled in dancing and acting. But when she came across the fashion industry not long out of high school, she really progressed and within a few short years found herself producing runway shows in Australia & New York which gave her the freedom to travel around the world between projects.

On returning to Australia she felt that the fashion industry had given her everything there was to offer, and after talking to a friend about an opportunity in New Zealand to enter the insurance world, Holly saw a great opportunity, not only for growth but also a challenge at something she had no experience in.

Entering the industry at 24 years old, in her first 2 years with the Aurora Insurance Group, Holly took home advisor and associate of the year award. Which has excelled her to the first ever female director in the company, mentoring and setting the path for other females and young brokers breaking into the industry.

Margaret Retter

Director – Policy
Ministry of Women NZ

Margaret leads the Ministry for Women's policy advice on women's skills, employment, and income and leadership. She has a strong background in the public service with particular focus in policy and archives management.

Dita Russell

Liability Claims Specialist

Dita Russell is the Property and Casualty Team Leader of Claims for Chubb NZ. She has over 17 years of experience in the NZ Insurance Industry, having worked in all aspects of Claims during this time.

Dita is a qualified Environmental Scientist by education. She also has a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management. Having chanced upon a temporary position in Insurance some 17 years ago, Dita has found her true calling in the Industry, and her focus since has been optimising her career in this sector.  

Currently managing a strong team of claims professionals locally, Dita is a passionate people manager and aims to deliver Chubb's Global standards of Excellence in Claims Service through her team. She believes in empowering her colleagues with knowledge and opportunities to enable them with a successful career in the Industry.