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Senior Vp, Regional Executive Officer Western Region
Laurel Ulrich began in the insurance industry in 1987 as a workers compensation claims representative at Travelers Property Casualty Corp., and then went to American International Group Inc. later in 1987. In 1990, she took a position at Johnson & Higgins, which was purchased by Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. during her tenure. She began working for ACE in 2001. In 2003, Ms. Ulrich became regional executive officer for the Western region as part of the insurer’s coordination of its business units to represent “One ACE” to customers and distribution channels. Her leadership of ACE’s Western region has helped it grow from four employees to 70.
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "The advice I offer young women entering the industry today is to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Take advantage of any education that is offered through your company and study and take the tests while you are still young and used to taking tests. The more proficient you are at the technical side of our industry, the better you will be at any job. Work long hours, take initiative, find a mentor and constantly ask questions."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "I have been fortunate to have many mentors that have influenced my career. My father was the head of a brokerage firm for many years and he got me into this industry. His true love for the industry and the people he met every day showed me what an enjoyable job it could be. Paul Gibbs, Willis Western zonal leader, hired me at (Johnson & Higgins Inc.) and really taught me business acumen, how to deal with the markets and how to properly service clients. And finally Dominic Frederico—who was the chairman of ACE—hired me at ACE. He believed in me and gave me my chance to shine. I still depend on all of them to give me advice and have found their insight invaluable."
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "If I could change one thing about our industry, I would want us to be an industry that does not sabotage ourselves from a pricing standpoint. It seems that minute we start to make a profit and the market begins to harden, we continually turn the tide to a soft market. We are the only industry that I know of that cannot seem to be able to stand prosperity. There is always capacity out there willing to drive the top line rather than the bottom line. It does not seem like there is enough focus on the quality of the companies and their respective ratings and instead, the cheapest price is all that matters."
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.