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2006 Women to Watch: Kathy Woodliff

Zurich Financial Services

Kathy Woodliff

Senior Vp-Product Management

Zurich Financial Services

Schaumburg, Ill.

Age: 50



Before joining Zurich, Kathy Woodliff held various positions with CNA Insurance Co. Once joining Zurich, she became senior vp and director for the liability line of business for the North America Commercial Business Division of Zurich Financial Services. Ms. Woodliff was promoted to senior vp-product management earlier this year. She leads the company’s Technical Price Initiative in North America to develop a certification and audit process that provides the tools for consistent, correct pricing for the risks assumed. She is a member of the Global Underwriting Council and is part of the team that determines risk policy for global underwriting.



Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?

A: "There needs to be more of a business mentality in the industry. It seems like the industry is still too focused on market share when there should be more focus on operational excellence and performance."



Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?

A: "I would say there’s probably never been a better time to enter the industry as a woman. There are many career opportunities today in the industry. Young women should make sure they have good mentors. They should pick a company that meshes with their values and their career objectives in terms of what they want to accomplish. I think it would also be helpful if women just entering the industry pick a company that has a formal training program."



Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?

A: "My current boss, Gary Kaplan, the chief underwriting officer, has had a great influence on my career. He takes the time to work with me in a formal coaching approach and promotes what I bring to the table with the rest of the organization. He is a huge advocate of promoting women in the insurance industry."



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