According to Ngawang (Noah) Choedon, everyone has a responsibility to give back. It’s why she takes every opportunity to help develop the new generation of P&C entrants.
It’s also why she was recognized with the Insurance Institute of Canada’s Emerging Leader Award, announced last week.
Choedon, senior environmental underwriter at Zurich Canada, is an active champion for the industry. She volunteers as a Career Connections Ambassador with the Insurance Institute, and through company initiatives like the Zurich Insurance Pathway Program (ZIPP) and Junior Achievement Program, where she educates students about their opportunities in the insurance industry.
“Volunteering has been a really big aspect of my life,” she said. “I’ve always been very interested in giving back to the community.”
With an educational background in finance, Choedon was looking for a change after starting her professional career with a tech firm and a non-profit. While researching her options, she stumbled upon an article that talked about the insurance industry. Ultimately, it was commercial underwriting that she found the most interesting.
“I actually enrolled myself in the CIP program with the Institute, and while doing that, I applied to an underwriting assistant position at Zurich, and that’s how I got into the insurance industry,” she said.
“I find the great thing about being an underwriter is that your day is always different,” she said. “Some days I can be at my desk reviewing submissions, or really focusing on going through the due diligence. But some days I’ll be in the market, I’ll talk to the brokers or meet customers.”
After joining the company as an underwriting assistant, Choedon worked in a couple of different departments before seizing an opportunity to join the environmental team.
In her day to day, Choedon works with brokers and customers to provide them with pollution insurance solutions. Policies for site pollution can be large and complicated at times, but the work comes with many rewards, namely in the form of her network.
“Getting into [environmental insurance] was different, because I don’t have an environmental science background. But because I had so many mentors around — my managers, my peers and also through a lot of experts within Zurich — that helped me with my transition,” she said.
“I feel lucky to be part of the environmental industry,” she said. “There are a lot of great people, and I think that’s the best thing about the overall industry.”
Choedon encourages young professionals to reach outward and grow their networks. It’s something she says has helped her own career progress.
“It’s okay to ask for help,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and just ask for coffee chats and get to know them. Something that I’ve learned over time is, it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know,’ because nobody knows everything.
“Remain curious, keep asking questions and learn, but also keep that curiosity even as you go through your career, because I think that’s what’s going to help you; I think that’s what makes life interesting.”
Outside of work, Choedon likes to travel, spend time with family, and is a polyglot who speaks three languages fluently, plus three or four more proficiently.