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Garance Wattez-Richard

As outlined above, I founded and have been leading AXA Emerging Customers since 2016, a business whose objective is to protect today and tomorrow’s middle class and close the insurance gap across emerging markets. It has been an exciting journey, dialoguing and on-boarding the company’s top management (who were not hard to convince as they are very forward-looking) and building a very agile team from scratch combining young talents, subject matter experts notably on product design, digital/mobile and IT & operations, and experienced financial inclusion professionals who bring the outside perspective. As of this year I also sit on the Board of Directors of our entities in India, Bharti-AXA Life Insurance and Bharti-AXA General Insurance which is very helpful to see how this internal start-up can be weaved into the overall strategy of our representative of one of the biggest markets in the world.

Before that, my previous roles at AXA which I joined in 2005 include Executive Assistant to the CEO of AXA Investment Managers, then Global Head of Investment Research Marketing & Brand of AXA IM, before becoming Head of External Comms for the AXA Group in 2012. In this last function I developed the reputation management function for the company and spearheaded the SheForShield report with the IFC-World Bank , the first report ever published on the opportunity for the insurance industry brought about by the silent gender revolution that has been taking place over the last 40 years that is gender re-balancing the education and workforce spaces as well as creating a variety of new ways of life for women – which come with an evolving risk landscape. The report also highlights the opportunity for the insurance industry to better target women as clients and hire them as distributors. This report was a real eye-opener because we were not aware of how late insurance companies were to wake up to the crucial role women play in the management of family finances and holistic protection, as well as in the global momentum behind entrepreneurship and start-ups. This subsequently led AXA’s management committee to put the women's segment on the strategic map of AXA with the creation of a dedicated team, the set-up of tailored offerings and measurement of gender-specific KPIs to bridge the gap and seize what the report deemed to be a 1.7 trillion dollar opportunity.

I started my career at the European Commission in Brussels, went on to work within the Office of the Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, to then spend several years working as a strategy consultant, for London Economics and Arthur D. Little. During this time in London, I co-founded a start up in 1999 called WorldTalk whose objective was to enable low income communities to improve their living conditions through better access to information, audio-based information and messaging services which were delivered in local languages and over existing telephone networks.

I am a graduate of the Université Paris IX Dauphine, the London School of Economics, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po.) and hold an MBA from INSEAD.