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2016 Women to Watch: Lynn Zeitler

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Lynn Zeitler
Senior vice president, head of special lines, product underwriting
Zurich North America
Schaumburg, Illinois
Age: 51

In an industry where many people find success by finding a niche and sticking with it, Lynn Zeitler found herself taking a different track a couple of years ago and has thrived.

After spending most of her career concentrating largely on casualty lines, in 2014 she was asked to change roles and look after specialty lines, “which basically I’d never underwritten before,” said Ms. Zeitler, Schaumburg, Illinois-based senior vice president and head of specialty lines, product and underwriting at Zurich North America.

But after only a year on the job, Ms. Zeitler was told she was “actually having a positive impact” on the business. “It was a great thing for me” to so “quickly add value,” she said.

Bringing out the best in the great team she worked with was a big part of the success, she said.

“I recognize that my success depends on the success of people around me, and so I look for opportunities for people to demonstrate their capabilities and then help provide them with the support they need to succeed,” said Ms. Zeitler, who joined Zurich in 1993.

Brian Hodges, who had been her subordinate and is now senior vice president for commercial surety at Zurich North America, said support from Ms. Zeitler helped him succeed.

“She is always very honest and straightforward” and provides “a crystal-clear understanding of what is expected of you,” he said.

Ms. Zeitler said she, too, has benefited from working with others who have supported her. Mary Merkel, who retired as Zurich North America’s chief underwriting officer earlier this year, had a great influence on her career. “She was a great role model because she was very focused and genuine and very fair, and those are the things I’ve taken away from her and learned from her,” Ms. Zeitler said.

Ms. Zeitler’s father was risk manager at Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., and while that had some influence on her insurance industry career choice, in addition, “I thought it would be a place where I could really make a difference.” 

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