A fond farewell to Susan Wilkinson

Susan Wilkinson steps down as Director and CEO

Susan is one of the most consummate insurance leaders that I have encountered in my long career in the industry. To have guided this unique ship with drive and determination for 25 years is an outstanding achievement.

Susan’s dedication has provided the Higher Education sector with the opportunity to safeguard itself from the vagaries of the insurance market, and in doing so has achieved an outstanding level of respect from friends and foe alike. In those 25 years, Susan has crafted and guided the mutual into a ‘one stop shop’ solution which has simplified the purchase of insurance risk protection and risk management services into an efficient customer focused and streamlined service of proven high standards, providing ‘Best Value’.

Ironically even those universities and colleges that have never been Members have benefi tted from the competitive edge that UMAL has brought. So the entire sector owes Susan and her hard working team a huge vote of thanks. We are very grateful that she will remain available after the handover on 1 January, and we all wish her well in her future endeavours.

Allan Guest, Chairman

UMAL appoints Paul Cusition as new CEO


UMAL is pleased to announce that Paul Cusition will succeed Susan Wilkinson as Executive Director and CEO on 1st January 2018. His appointment encompasses Hasilwood Management Services Ltd too, where he will take the role of CEO also.

After a successful career in mainstream insurance Paul comes to the Mutual with 35 years’ experience. Previously at Royal Sun Alliance, Travelers and Lloyd’s, Paul says: “I am very much looking forward to settling into the role. In the early stages, I anticipate meeting our Members to understand their complex risks. The strategy of the Board over recent years has been successfully pursued, resulting in sustained growth, and one of my aims will be to build on that success.

Coming from the commercial insurance sector I find UMAL’s single-minded pursuit of its Members’ requirements – coverage, wording and flexibility – in a streamlined manner, very refreshing!”

“Paul is absolutely the right person to advance the aims and objectives of the Mutual in a changing and challenging environment,” says Chairman Allan Guest. “Our selection panel conducted a very intensive search to find the right combination of skills needed for this unique leadership position. I am very pleased with the choice.

Paul is used to working closely with major clients which will serve him well in his new role. “The higher education sector presents a wide and ever- changing risk profile” observes Paul. “I am looking forward to joining in January and to developing my knowledge of the higher education sector, working closely with Susan, Allan and the Board so that there is a smooth transition.

I am excited about this new challenge, and the opportunity to be taking over responsibility for such a successful and stable business from Susan. It feels to me that UMAL is a club that all universities should want to be a Member of.”

UMAL’s first 25 years celebrated in style

UMAL marked its 25th Anniversary Year with a special lunch event at Guildhall, London, the historic ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London, on 31st October. 200 guests from the higher education and insurance world raised their glasses to the success of the Mutual over its first quarter century.

Speaking at the event was Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Chancellor of the University of Winchester, gardener, author and presenter. He offered his congratulations to UMAL, and the success of the idea fostered by three, then four original universities.

Their example showed, he stated, that “when someone says, in the face of a problem, ‘they should do something about it’, there isn’t a them, there is only an us. Unless we grasp the nettle, nothing is going to happen.” Allan Guest, Chairman, also paid tribute to the pioneers who had the courage to establish the Mutual.

Reflecting on this special occasion, he said “it was very pleasing to see so many friends, past and present, who have contributed to the outstanding development of this mutual model for the HE sector. We look forward to the future with great optimism.”

Susan Wilkinson writes…

“Having been associated with the pre start-up and launch of the mutual UMAL, and subsequently UMSR and HMSL during their formative years, the time has come for me to hand over the reins. It has been a privilege to have been at the helm during the HE/FE-owned venture’s development – probably the most impressive sector procurement venture embracing private sector partnership in the shape of insurance and reinsurance companies, both within the UK and globally”.

Looking back at her time with the mutual, Susan paid tribute to her fellow Directors who have made up the UM boards over the years, and given her invaluable guidance and support. As Susan explained, “the very nature of the organisation demands a seamless relationship with the Member institutions, and I have been fortunate in having a professional and enthusiastic team working with me. The UMAL staff and Members will, I am sure, enjoy an unbroken service provision, and the mutual will continue to thrive further under the leadership of Paul.”

Susan Wilkinson, Director & CEO