2006 Women to Watch: Wendy BakerPosted On: Oct. 8, 2006 12:00 AM CST
Lloyd's America Inc.
Wendy Baker started her career in insurance through a management trainee program at Continental Corp. in 1976. She worked her way up, earning the title of president of Continental Reinsurance Corp. in 1990, becoming the first female president of a reinsurance company. Over the next several years, she worked at different organizations including Minet Ltd. and her own consulting firm, Beckman Advisors, before joining Lloyd's America Inc. in 1998. Ms. Baker was promoted to president of Lloyd's America in 2000, and is responsible for overseeing six offices in the United States, the Virgin Islands and Montreal and for managing Lloyd's U.S. business.
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "Someone entering any business should learn the business and should never quit trying to gain more knowledge of how things work, new products, and new ways to sell the product. They should also be confident to say what they think, even if it is different than what a senior person thinks. As long as you are intellectually honest, you can stand up and say what you believe."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "Certainly one of them is a woman named Constance Curnow. She was at Continental when I was there. She, I think, was a very good influence on me in terms of my strengths and weaknesses and telling me how to play both, and I think she’s also been a great inspiration for other women in the business over the last 15 or 20 years. There are also a number of men who have been very influential in my career and made me feel that women could do everything that men could do, and maybe better. Some of these men are probably in their late seventies and eighties now, and some are younger men that I work with today. I have a very strong and confident family, who have been very supportive of what I’ve done over the years. It helps when you have the support of strong women like your mother, and your sisters and others in your family. I think that’s very helpful."
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "Most people’s view of the industry is negative, and I would like to change that so people understand that insurance is positive, and insurance underlies everything that we do in our lives. We are a main force of the economy, far greater than other industries, and yet we are not recognized for it. I think we need to have a different view of the industry, and maybe part of that comes from within—we need to view ourselves as a positive force in the economy, and maybe other people would feel the same way. We should be proud of what we do."