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2016 Women to Watch: Patricia Steis

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Patricia Steis
Managing director and office head
Marsh USA Inc., a unit of Marsh L.L.C.
Washington
Age: 50

Patricia Steis took a bit of a circuitous route to the insurance industry, but she’s enjoyed the journey.

“I had been practicing law,” said Ms. Steis, managing director and head of the Washington office of Marsh USA Inc., a unit of Marsh L.L.C. “I enjoyed and was challenged in my life as a lawyer, but I didn’t see any long-term future as a litigation associate at a law firm.” 

Through networking, Ms. Steis learned of possibilities in the insurance industry, which led to an underwriting position at Gulf Insurance Group K.S.C.P.

“Some would look at it as definitely a step down the ladder — I took a pay cut, but it was for the right reasons. Starting at Gulf was a great point of entry. I’d really never picked up an insurance policy before, except for my homeowners policy. I feel very fortunate for that opportunity.”

Ms. Steis then moved over to the brokerage side of the industry, which she found to be a perfect fit for her skills and her desire to work with clients.

“It was very different from litigation, where I felt there were always two losers,” she said. “Nobody ever felt like they won everything they wanted, and you’re kind of banging heads day in and day out. What we do now in brokerage, we feel like there are winners on both sides. We work with carriers, we work with clients and hopefully find common winning ground for all.”

Ms. Steis was appointed Marsh USA’s Washington office head in 2011, and also helped launch the Washington chapter of Marsh’s Women’s Executive Business to Business network.

“It’s definitely a terrific industry for women, and there’s a lot of opportunity,” she said.

Allison Balliett, senior manager insurance risk management at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., used to work with Ms. Steis and is now a client. She said she admires how Ms. Steis takes time to understand her clients beyond “the nuts and bolts of their business and their buying behavior” and gets to know “their likes, dislikes, challenges — even the names of their kids and pets.”

“In my view, Patti is quite simply the whole package,” Ms. Balliett said in an email.

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