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Senior Vp-Corporate Business Development
Argonaut Group Inc.
Barbara C. Bufkin began her career in 1977 as a commercial underwriting trainee with the Travelers Insurance Co. She entered reinsurance in 1979 as a casualty facultative underwriter with American Re-Insurance Co., and the reinsurance intermediary business in 1981 with E.W. Blanch Co. She served as executive vp at Sedgwick Payne Co. until 1993, joining Swiss Re Services as an executive vp in 1995 before becoming director at Swiss Re New Markets. She joined Argonaut Group in 2001.
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "I believe the insurance industry’s ability to compete, attract and retain top undergraduate and graduate school talent will be the single most important driver of our industry. This will require reaching farther into the recruiting process, articulating the challenges and opportunities in the insurance/reinsurance industry and embracing the potential for true innovation."
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "I would advise young women as I would young men entering the industry, to become students of the business; to embrace the fundamentals of basic business acumen along with the technical aspects of our industry. I would advise them to seek out a mentor, remain aware of the external environment (social, political, human elements), be open to change, be prepared to give back to the community, treat your colleagues and subordinates the way you yourself would hope to be treated, allow your passion for the business and life to be visible, love what you do and remember to smile."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "The collective experience of working for some truly outstanding leaders and mentors and the highly talented teams of people I have had the opportunity to work with over the years have collectively had the greatest influence on my career. The diversity of thought, leadership style and disciplines allowed me to grow and learn the business. The women of Leadership Texas and Leadership America shared the experience of women leaders in business, education and public service and gave me vast perspective outside our industry. Over arching my professional career has been the inspiration of my family. Both my grandmothers, born in the early 1900s, were women not constrained by traditional mores, encouraging me to vigorously pursue education, career, an active role in community service and a family. Raising two sons has without question provided tremendous motivation to ‘do it all.’"
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.