Celebrating International Women’s Day with Sonja Kozel and Rebecca Barton

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Culture

Cowbell’s workforce is over 40% female. We understand the tremendous value that diversity brings to a company. The expertise and leadership that the women working at Cowbell contribute continue to be essential to the company’s overall success, including its award-winning technology and holistic underwriting and claims processes. 

For this International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8th every year, we want to shout out two women who continue to impress their peers, Cowbell’s founders, and insurance professionals around the country with their hard and soft skills, their deep knowledge of the insurance industry, and their enthusiasm in bringing out the strengths in others.

Sonja Kozel, SVP, Sales & Distribution, and Rebecca Barton, VP, Claims at Cowbell have been with us for several years, showcasing time and time again their knowledge, leadership, and creativity in solving complex problems. 

Q: Can you give us a quick rundown on your responsibilities at Cowbell, the beginning of your career, as well as your career growth within the company? 

RB: I started at Cowbell as Cyber Claims Counsel shortly after the company brought their claims function in-house. In my current role, I manage the Claims team, oversee the specialists, and am responsible for a book of complex claims. I joke that I am a “recovering attorney,” having started my career in New Zealand as a litigation solicitor. After I moved to the U.S., I dipped my toe into the insurance pool working for a large carrier, and ended up loving it. About six months in at Cowbell, I assumed a Director role and with it, management of the Cyber Claims Specialist team. It’s been a delight to watch our team grow.

SK: I joined Cowbell as a Territory Manager in 2020 and began leading production for Cowbell’s midwestern states as Regional Vice President. Now, as Senior Vice President, Sales & Distribution, I manage Cowbell’s largest broker relationships, have expanded key strategic partnerships, and lead all sales and distribution efforts for Cowbell East of the Mississippi. Before joining Cowbell, I held a variety of sales manager roles with Markel Specialty.

Q: Congratulations on your latest promotions to VP, Claims, and SVP, US Sales & Distributions. What are you trying to achieve in 2024 for your team and the company?

RB: Thank you! What I’m aiming for this year is to keep rocking our top-notch customer support, especially when it comes to handling claims. Most organizations get insurance hoping they never have to use it, but with cyber claims, when it happens, it can really throw a wrench in someone’s day, and in some cases, be the worst professional day of their lives. I believe our team is great at guiding people through the whole claims process and teaming up with industry-leading vendors to get them back up and running as soon as possible. My goal is to keep supporting and facilitating that however I can, making things better for our policyholders

SK: Yes, thank you! For me, market expansion is top of my list, as well as helping to proactively tell the Cowbell story to the public, expanding our brand as an industry leader. 

Q: Do you think it is harder for women to get ahead in this industry? Why or why not?

RB: The experiences of individuals in any industry can vary widely. In the insurance industry, as in many other fields, there have been challenges and biases that disproportionately affect women. But I think our industry is evolving, and it’s encouraging to see efforts being made to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Research indicates that when women see other women in leadership positions, they are more likely to consider and pursue career advancement opportunities, including applying for senior roles. 

I am thrilled whenever I see promotions announced for my insurance colleagues, especially when I see the appointment of bright and accomplished women to senior positions, including those at the C-suite level. This is not merely about meeting diversity quotas; it reflects the recognition of their competence and excellence and bringing new perspectives to the table. I hope these efforts will pave the way for women to advance in this industry more easily.

Q: You are mentors within Cowbell’s Women’s Mentorship Program. Can you share with us your tips for women who are just starting in the insurance industry?

SK: It is so important to have mentors – both in the industry and in other fields, that you trust and feel comfortable going to for advice. Early in your career, it can often feel like it’s hard to find other like-minded professionals. Seek out leaders who are willing (and able – time is valuable, so these relationships take work on both sides!) to help you level up. 

Q: Thank you so much for giving us insights into your roles at Cowbell and how you empower women to advance their careers in the insurance industry. Is there anything else you want to share? 

RB: Thanks for the opportunity to contribute! Empowering women in this industry involves providing them with choices: the option to thrive in their professional endeavors, the freedom to prioritize family or personal pursuits, or the flexibility to pursue both paths. I’m always happy to connect with anyone in this industry so feel free to reach out.

SK: So excited for the opportunity to share more about my career and offer any insight on how to connect with other female leaders; finding allies early in your career is important. If you aren’t sure where to start, but would like to connect please know I’m always free to chat and happy to help make introductions to other women in my network! 

At Cowbell, we’re proud to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of women in our industry who are breaking barriers, shaping the future, and inspiring the next generation of female leaders. Their actions are helping to ensure that the insurance sector becomes more inclusive, equitable, and reflective of the diverse society it serves. Let’s all commit to fostering an environment that supports women’s growth and success, today and every day.

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