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2017 Women to Watch: Debbie Michel

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Debbie Michel
Executive vice president, national insurance casualty and middle market
Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
Chicago
Age: 52

When Debbie Michel found that her risk manager clients with Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. wanted more flexibility and control in their insurance programs, she ushered in an unbundled insurance product — and sold $30 million in policies in the first eight months.

Just another day at the office for a woman who credits her success to her team and 22 years at Liberty Mutual.

“It’s just another product we are bringing to the marketplace,” she said, of the industry trend of unbundling insurance offerings. “It creates another product alternative in the marketplace and gives these large clients flexibility.”

She calls herself a “fixer.” 

“I like to find businesses that are challenging and have lots of opportunities, and I like to go in and align management and align leadership, step back and understand the business and see what works and what doesn’t,” Ms. Michel said.

Her problem-solving background in accounting helps, she said, having spent eight years as a certified public accountant.

Today her goals include driving new business and helping employees grow.

“I am really focused on driving the business, but driving the business through a good-quality employee and customer experience,” said Ms. Michel, who is a board member of the Spencer Educational Foundation Inc., which provides scholarships and grants for risk management and insurance education.

Stacy Graham, a Chicago-based senior vice president and general manager for national insurance in the central division of Liberty Mutual, said she’s benefited from Ms. Michel’s focus on employee growth.

“She has mentored me my entire career here and most recently helped me get promoted,” said Ms. Graham, who was hired by Ms. Michel in 2010. “She will hold the mirror up to your face to show you what you are doing well and what you are not doing well, and she is very honest. She tries to enhance what you are doing.” 

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