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UP CLOSE: Nikole R. VanderKlok


NEW JOB TITLE: Assistant vp, Florida branch manager, ACE USA


PREVIOUS POSITION: Risk manager, insurance administration for BayCare Health System Inc.

REASON FOR THE CHANGE: I have been a broker and a risk manager. I wanted to bring those experiences, especially the perspective of a large commercial insured, to an energized company that offers everything from specialty products for middle-market companies to risk management solutions for global companies with multinational risks. ACE is doing some very exciting things, so when I was presented with the opportunity to lead their further expansion in Florida and use my background to fit coverages to clients' exposures, I enthusiastically accepted.

VITAL STATISTICS: Masters degree from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.; Bachelors degree in management and organizational development from Spring Arbor College in Spring Arbor, Mich. Prior to joining BayCare, I was a wholesale broker with Burns & Wilcox and spent several years with Stewart Smith (now AmWINS) in both Florida and Michigan, and have also been a retail insurance broker.

GOALS FOR NEW POSITION: Florida is a large and growing state with tremendous opportunity, given ACE's appetite and varied product offerings. I not only want to raise the awareness and profile of our company in the eyes of risk managers and brokers, but also use my experiences as a risk manager and as a broker to make doing business with us as easy as possible.

FIRST TIME IN THE JOB MARKET: My first paying job was in a shoe store managed by my oldest brother's future wife. This involved handing out marketing materials and enticing people to come in the store.

TOP ADVICE: If you want to run with the big dogs, you can't stay on the porch and play with the puppies. If you want to get somewhere, you have to take some chances and try new things. Good things don't just come to those who wait; you have to get up off the porch and go get them yourself.

OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY, A DREAM JOB: I have always said that when I retire from the industry, I want a job naming lipstick colors.

LESSONS LEARNED AS A RISK MANAGER: Being an insurance buyer and end-user gave me a much better appreciation for the importance of great service and open communication. I think that most underwriters and brokers do not fully realize the internal deadlines that risk managers face, nor the pressures of answering to CFOs, division heads or board members who are looking for answers and have their own priorities and deadlines. Getting an answer quickly, or even just a status report, is so very critical, and it is this perspective that I will try to bring to my new role, making ACE more user-friendly for our Florida customers.