Meet Mark Pennington, SVP, U.S. Aviation
Tell us about your career journey and your path to Sompo International. What attracted you to Sompo International?
My path to becoming part of the Sompo International team was a fairly straight forward one. I was studying to become a commercial pilot in college when the airline industry took a drastic downturn post 9/11. This resulted in a surplus of furloughed airline pilots, and I had no interest in scrapping for flying jobs over the next decade. Therefore, I decided it was time to make a change. While looking for alternate career paths in the aviation industry I discovered underwriting. It just so happened that while the pilot industry had taken a nosedive, the insurance industry was in desperate need of underwriters with aviation experience. And so I interviewed and was hired with W. Brown immediately after graduation. I then spent the next 18 years with W. Brown until we were acquired by Sompo International in 2020. Coming from a smaller family-owned company, it was a relief to find that same type of culture existed in a much larger corporation. The welcome and support we received from all of the SI personnel involved in our acquisition made for an easy transition.
Tell us about an initiative at Sompo International that you are most excited for in 2023.
The One Sompo initiative is incredibly exciting as it encourages us to connect and collaborate with our colleagues across the globe. Through this connectivity we will be better prepared to develop strategies for challenges and opportunities that occur not just in our own microcosms but on a global scale.
What advice do you have for prospective Sompo International candidates?
Teamwork and flexibility are crucial to success. No challenge is too big when you are open to ideas and harness the incredible talent of the people around you.
Tell us about the first [paid] job you ever had.
I was 13 years old, and my friend’s father owned a contracting company. Two to three times a week after school we would go to different construction sites and do clean-up of debris left over from the contractors. It paid $5 an hour which mostly went towards baseball cards and comic books. In hindsight I should have been purchasing Amazon stock…
If you weren’t working in the position you are in, what would you be doing? / If you could have a career in anything, what would it be?
Ever since I’ve learned how to ski, I’ve been fascinated by the ski patrol. To swoop in and rescue people off of the mountain must be a satisfying and exciting career. And let’s face it, when you’re not rescuing people, you get paid to ski every day.