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President and Chief Executive Officer
United Educators Insurance
Chevy Chase, Md.
Before assuming the top spot at United Educators Insurance, Janice Abraham was chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary of the board of trustees of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., a UEI member company. In addition to helping more than 1,200 educational institutions manage risk, she is credited with strengthening United Educators’ capital and developing reinsurance options for the risk retention group. Ms. Abraham, who also is member of the board of governors of the Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America, in 2004 was named Insurance Woman of the Year by the Assn. of Professional Insurance Women Inc.
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "That (industry participants) would shift our focus from short-term to long-term. Risk financing is about long-range analysis and thinking, and we’re too short-term driven. That short-term focus affects everything from developing talent, to investing in services and understanding financial decisions."
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "Take a risk in accepting a position or assignment that seems frightening on first hearing about it. My most rewarding, interesting, fulfilling positions have been the ones that had the greatest challenges and presented the most uncertainty. Find a company or organization that cares about you as a person. You don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value you and what you can do."
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: "Currently, my board of directors challenges and supports me and the entire company, and the United Educators staff constantly amazes me and supports me with their skill, dedication and loyalty to all that we do. My family, who supports my risk taking with unconditional love and enthusiasm."
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.