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Research Analyst and Editor of Practical Risk Management
International Risk Management Institute Inc.
As director of corporate risk management for Belz Enterprises, Memphis' largest real estate development and management company, Millicent W. Workman developed state-of-the-art risk and employee benefit management programs. Her effort earned her the 1992 Business Insurance Risk Manager of the Year Award. Ms. Workman then joined residential plumbing products manufacturer Mueller Industries Inc. as director of risk management and human resources. Ms. Workman joined IRMI last year.
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "I think you can’t overemphasize the importance of continuous learning—learning about the industry. It’s something you do every day. The broader your knowledge of the industry, the better equipped you are” to handle a variety of opportunities. “You come out of college and you think you want to be a risk manager. But you’re not going to be a risk manager for a major corporation the day you get out of college."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "There were actually two women who had a great influence in my career.” The first was Reese Moses, an insurance agency owner for whom (I) worked part time during college. Ms. Moses “clearly demonstrated to me what a woman can do—being independent and doing what you wanted. She always encouraged me—showing me what to do to advance your career.” The other influential woman was Margaret Thompson, the first woman in Tennessee to earn a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters designation. “Both of them just showed me there are opportunities. You just have to seize them, but there aren’t limitations on what you can do."
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "The public’s perception of our industry. I think the public’s perception of our industry has never been great. It’s understandable, in some ways, because their interaction with us often is negative—they have to buy insurance, file a claim."
Business Insurance's report on "Women to Watch" is our attempt to identify some of the women who are leading change in commercial insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.