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Senior Vp and Regional Executive Officer
Karen V. Sothern began her career in the insurance industry at CIGNA Corp., where she held various underwriting, business development and management positions including serving as senior vp of CIGNA Global Risk Management. Since ACE Ltd.’s acquisition of CIGNA’s property/casualty business in 1999, she served as a senior vp in ACE USA’s international division before taking her current position as senior vp and regional executive officer for ACE USA’s New England Region in 2002.
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: “If I could change something about the insurance industry it would be its image. Ours is a sophisticated global industry which has significant positive impact on our economy. In simplest terms, we help people and businesses fulfill their regulatory obligations to purchase insurance. The greater impact is our industry’s affording people and businesses the opportunity to focus on their priorities—home, family, safety, running businesses, developing products, offering jobs and finding cures—rather than on risk, which we help mitigate.”
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: “Focus not on the fact that they are women but rather on the job at hand and positively impacting results; specifically on hard work, team work, making a contribution and understanding well the critical objectives of and results achieved by the company and operating division for which they work.”
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: “A long-time family friend named John Baney who passed away in 2001. He was a second father to me during my growing up years and in particular during my father’s battle with cancer and eventual death when I was 21. Mr. B. had long been a success in our industry as measured in traditional terms. He was a demanding leader though a fair and honest one who never asked of others what he was unwilling to do himself. He guided and advised wisely and thoughtfully; he always understood the value and priority of family and, in particular, of time—something one can never give back—even as the demands of executive leadership became greater when he was rewarded with increased responsibilities. And he had a terrific sense of humor.”
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.