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Head of Commercial Insurance
Swiss Reinsurance Co.
Kansas City, Mo.
Robin Sterneck held several leadership positions at GE Insurance Solutions before the unit was acquired by Swiss Reinsurance Co. earlier this year. As head of Swiss Re’s commercial insurance segment, Ms. Sterneck leads the strategy and operations of the $1 billion unit, which includes small business workers compensation, programs and general binding authorities, excess and surplus lines insurance, agents and lawyers professional liability and the medical expense group product lines. Ms. Sterneck also serves as president of Coregis Insurance Co., Westport Insurance Corp. and First Specialty Corp.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: Firstly, “my parents. They lived by the quote from Louis Pasteur, ‘Chance favors a prepared mind.’ This has become my mantra.” Secondly, “Jack Welch (former chairman and CEO of General Electric), who said, high-impact ideas can come from anywhere. He heard about something I was doing early in my career with GE and within months had me translating it for all GE businesses. As a result, the teams delivered $100 million dollars in additional revenue in 12 months.”
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: “I would urge you to recognize it will take at least five years until you truly understand a business, and then you’ll still have a lot to learn. During that time be a sponge and offer to go above and beyond if it won’t negatively impact your ability to meet your own deliverables; specialize; become a ‘go-to’ specialist person first and then a generalist. Narrow and deep skills add value, open doors and give you credibility on which to expand and grow.”
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: I would like to see the industry achieve a level of data sharing, transparency and innovation that takes the chaos out of renewals while enabling all of us to work on a much broader spectrum of cross-industry solutions. I would also like to see a more uniform, universal rate and form construct for admitted insurance companies—a standardization that would drive better efficiency.
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.