Prior to my bachelor’s degree in psychology, my father would sit me down and talk to me about the insurance industry’s potential, hoping that one day I would follow his path and that of his brothers. I was, however, fixated on a certain perception that stopped me from delving deeper into this misunderstood field. Upon finishing my bachelor’s, I soon realised that despite my passion for psychology, it was not the right career for me. By that time, I had lost my father and my main source of guidance and advice. I struggled to find a new passion that would give me the same excitement and thrill as that from psychology.
I am lucky enough to come from a family that looks out for each other. Although I lost my father, I had another father figure in my life that I looked up to, my uncle, Wael El Khatib, the Chairman of Lockton MENA. My uncle completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 1998. Upon completing his degree, he had unknowingly begun a legacy for the Khatibs to follow. Years later, my cousin, Ata El Khatib, followed in his father’s footsteps and also completed his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management at Cass in 2008. Ata is currently Deputy CEO at Lockton MENA.
I think by now you know where this is heading… Ata was not the last Khatib at Cass. His brother, Faris, also joined Cass in 2012 and completed the same master’s degree. Faris is currently the head of Employee Benefits at Lockton MENA. Obviously, the list continues… In 2016, Zainab, their sister, also joined Cass. Zainab had a similar background to mine where, despite her bachelor’s in linguistics, she decided to venture into the world of insurance. She joined Liberty Specialty Markets in London, around two years ago, in an underwriting assistant role for the Strategic Assets team.
During my phase of confusion, Zainab spent hours talking to me about the beauty of the insurance industry. She described it as “the field that offers you something new every day, the field that challenges your analytical abilities and forces you to think about the unthinkable.” She helped me overcome the misconceptions and helped me acquire a clearer vision of what I wanted. That’s how the fifth member of the Khatib family joined Cass, as I am currently doing my MSc in Insurance and Risk Management.
If it wasn’t for my uncle, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now. He encouraged me to join Cass and supported me in every way. They all told me about the strength of Cass’s education system, their remarkable memories at Cass and the unbreakable friendships that they developed. Hence, I knew that Cass was the place to be. There was always a common story that I heard, a story that described my family’s respect towards our professor, Chris Parsons. Professor Parsons managed to teach every member of my family. In the span of 20 years, he met the father, the sons, the daughter and the niece! Which is crazy if you think about it…
I am currently creating my own Cass experience, which so far has been indescribable. Not only have I acquired a new family that is so diverse and caring, I am discovering a world that I had no idea existed. Although I am leaning more towards Risk Management at this point, I am enjoying every aspect of the programme. I can’t deny it, it can be challenging sometimes, but I am definitely receiving the appropriate support and knowledge from my professors to help me overcome the obstacles. It is safe to say that my vision of what I want to do after my master’s is becoming clearer. But for the time being, I am planning to take my time in developing this vision. Every day I am learning something new, every day I am falling in love with a different aspect of this field. But, I am sure that Cass will eventually direct me towards establishing my vision.
Reem El-Khatib, MSc Insurance and Risk Management (2019)