International Women’s Day: Mandy Kisala, SVP Underwriter


In celebration of International Women’s Day, today we’re meeting Mandy Kisala, SVP, Underwriting, who is based in Bermuda.

Tell us about your job and what your day-to-day looks like.
In my underwriting role, I divide my time between insurance and reinsurance, supporting the Americas P&C Insurance and Bermuda Specialty team. Lately, my focus has been on casualty, cyber and transactional liability, and insurance programs that span multiple SiriusPoint entities. Describing my day-to-day is difficult because every day is different. A typical day might include hearing a pitch about a new cyber opportunity, evaluating the expansion of an existing program into a new product or region, reviewing contract wording, working with actuaries to model terms for a casualty reinsurance deal, or meeting with a broker to discuss buying reinsurance for one of our programs.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
I love being in a role where I can collaborate with people across all disciplines and offices. In addition to enjoying people, I like seeing the big picture, and working with a wide range of teams certainly helps with that. I also love the point at which, after spending time negotiating and modeling terms, the deal finally gets done. It’s such a rush!

Which of our values resonates with you the most, and why?
After my answer to question two, I have to say collaboration resonates. The other one that sticks with me is solution-driven. I enjoy devising deal structures that provide us with the downside protection and profit we require but also work for our partners and can potentially lead to strong, long-term relationships.

What advice would you give to women who are at the beginning of their careers?
My first advice would be: don’t discount the importance of face time…I’m not talking about the app here. Quite a lot of learning occurs when you don’t think you’re learning – from watching and hearing how experienced colleagues handle different situations. Second, don’t give the doubters – including yourself – too much of a voice. Whether you want to expand in your current role or pivot to something different, trust in what you’ve done, what you know, and your ability to learn new skills.

How did you get into the insurance industry?
Before beginning college, someone suggested actuary as a possible job since I enjoyed math. Despite having a rather tenuous grasp of what an actuary was, I decided that was for me and enrolled in the math program at my local liberal arts university. After year one, I transferred to Purdue University to join their actuarial program. I quickly realized my liberal arts school math education didn’t cut it in a school renowned for its STEM programs and got cold feet after seeing a practice actuarial exam. I switched my major to education and nearly became a math teacher before deciding I didn’t enjoy mathematical proofs. By then, I’d upped my math skills and gave actuarial science a go again, passed a few exams, and graduated with a degree in the subject. Insurance was the next logical step. I finished my qualification and have been in the business in some capacity ever since.

Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you?
In recent years I’ve been very impressed by Jacinda Ardern, former prime minister of New Zealand. She came to power as one of the youngest PMs and governed during a difficult time that included the global pandemic. I’m inspired by her accomplishments and how she deals with challenging and occasionally unkind questions and comments from the media in a strong, but well-spoken manner.

How do you empower women around you?
I’ve aimed to empower women around me by being encouraging. When colleagues and friends come to me for advice on their careers or other opportunities they want to pursue, I point out the attributes that I know will make them successful and try to offer advice on things to consider. I’ve also endeavored to be approachable and someone people can feel comfortable reaching out to with questions. With some of our junior underwriters, I used to hold ‘camps’ (their term, not mine) where we’d casually discuss whatever underwriting topics they may want to learn more about.

Written by SiriusPoint