2006 Women to Watch: Elizabeth Francy DemaretPosted On: Oct. 8, 2006 12:00 AM CST
Managing Director, Worldwide Risk Services Group
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Elizabeth Francy Demaret got her start in the industry as a summer intern prior to attending college. Early in her career, she worked for CIGNA Corp. and Home Insurance Co, and in 1995, while working at Near North Insurance Co., she developed the Worldlink system which provided insurance regulation information in more than 100 countries worldwide for risk managers and insurance carriers. For the past five years, she has headed the Worldwide Risk Services Group for Gallagher, overseeing the international retail market niche. In that role, she has responsibility for multinational sales, client service management for a roster of more than 2,500 multinational clients and management of the Optimus Network of independent brokers in 120 countries. She also serves on the AJG Terrorism Task Force.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "The biggest influence on my career is that at each stop along the way and at each level, I found a mentor. A mentor can become a roadmap for your career, pointing out a new path that you haven’t seen, identifying issues that you should focus on or skill sets that you need. Some people are lucky enough to find one mentor during their careers; I have been lucky enough to find several."
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "Manage your professional reputation with as much energy as you manage your career, and make sure your reputation is as strong as your work. You manage your reputation by behaving in an honorable, professional manner that makes a lasting impression. If you leave a position, leave it with a respect for the institution you worked for and the people you worked with. You should always be able to call former co-workers for assistance, networking or to maintain the professional friendship."
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "If I were able to change one thing about the industry, it would be to encourage the industry to get back to training people in a formal, structured program. The industry always had great training programs, but in the 1990s that fell off. I’d love to see the industry raising its own insurance professionals again. Here at AJG, we have a very strong internship program. I worked with three 21-year-old interns recently, and it’s great to see them get excited about the industry. We can bring in the best and the brightest, but we have to train them. What makes us good professionals is our technical knowledge."