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2016 Women to Watch: Vilma Palma-Blackmon

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Vilma Palma-Blackmon
Senior vice president
Gallagher Bassett Services Inc.
Miramar, Florida
Age: 53

In her words, Vilma Palma-Blackmon fell into the insurance industry by accident: She began her career in workers compensation as an adjuster and was attracted to the work because it gave her the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of those who had suffered a loss.

“Truly seeing the injured workers restored to health and going back and leading productive lives pretty much fueled my passion for the work and the industry. Making a difference is what did it,” she said.

Ms. Palma-Blackmon has been in her position as senior vice president with Gallagher Bassett Services Inc. for more than 10 years and oversees the third-party administrator’s Southeast claims operations. She is involved with strategic planning and execution, which includes helping build the Gallagher Bassett brand and reputation, maintaining its corporate culture and recruitment.

These days, she said she is focused on making a difference in the lives of clients her colleagues. She is fond of saying, “We all have a duty to open the door so that others can walk through it.” Ms. Palma-Blackmon has taken an active role in bringing in the next generation of future industry executives by serving as the executive sponsor of Gallagher Bassett’s college trainee program.

Her colleagues point to her support of her co-workers as a defining trait that upholds Gallagher Bassett’s culture.

“Her tenacity and expertise — not to mention her generosity in developing and supporting people — are what we are all about here at GB,” said Scott Hudson, Itasca, Illinois-based president and CEO of Gallagher Bassett.

“Vilma is a terrific leader and a huge asset to our claims operation. I know from seeing her in action that she is the absolute embodiment of our culture,” said Ajay Sinha, Itasca-based executive vice president of Gallagher Bassett’s claims operation.

Ms. Palma-Blackmon credits her father as her biggest influence. She said he raised her not to see limitations, and that with hard work no goal was beyond her reach.

“I didn’t realize that there could be limitations or that maybe even external forces could get in the way, so by the time I entered the job market he had ingrained such confidence in me. It was such a great belief system for me. It was part of my DNA,” she said.

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