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2016 Women to Watch: Gretchen Thompson

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Gretchen Thompson
Regional vice president-Southern California
Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.
Brea, California
Age: 38

Gretchen Thompson is following a long family tradition in the insurance sector.

Her father, Gary Thompson, who began as an underwriting trainee in Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.’s Overland Park, Kansas, office, retired from the insurer as an executive vice president, said Ms. Thompson. A grandfather and several uncles and cousins have worked in the industry as well, she said.

Yet Ms. Thompson did not follow a direct route into the industry. Her first job out of college was working in finance at Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric Co.

She then began work in the Hartford’s mergers and acquisitions unit before assuming a product development role, then made her way over to middle-market business, she said. Ms. Thompson was promoted to regional vice president about a year-and-a-half ago.

She credits much of her success to Hartford’s leaders, who “take an interest in folks at the company who want to work hard.” Ms. Thompson said she “never felt like a number. You always felt like an individual.” 

“Gretchen has been a very strong field leader for the Hartford in our middle-market segment” who inspires her colleagues as well as her clients, said Tracy Ant, New York-based senior vice president for field sales and execution, who has known Ms. Thompson since late 2013.

“She’s incredibly resourceful and collaborative, and she is a fierce competitor,” said Ms. Ant, who was a Business Insurance Woman to Watch in 2006.

Ms. Thompson said she also appreciates her time spent in college as a softball player on an NCAA Division 1 team. It gave her a “great perspective” as a business major to play with students who were studying to become nurses or teachers, she said.

Ms. Thompson, who lives in Orange County with her wife, Melissa Thompson, and daughters Shaye, 5, and Kennedy, 2, said Hartford has always been supportive on both business and personal levels.

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