H. ELIZABETH MITCHELLPosted On: Jul. 29, 2007 12:00 AM CST
Platinum Underwriters Reinsurance Inc.
H. Elizabeth Mitchell was valedictorian of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., class of 1985, where she majored in the classics. She joined the Insurance Services Office Inc. after graduation, training as an actuary. After a little over a year, she moved on to Tillinghast/Towers Perrin, where she remained for six years. She held the position of corporate actuary at English & American Insurance Co. Ltd. before joining St. Paul Reinsurance Inc. in 1993, where she held several senior positions before becoming the executive vp responsible for all North American casualty underwriting. As part of restructuring, the unit was spun off and renamed Platinum in 2002. Ms. Mitchell held the position of chief operating officer and executive vp of Platinum before being named president in August 2005. Ms. Mitchell was named Insurance Woman of the Year by the Assn. of Professional Insurance Women in 2007 and became a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society in 1990.
Advice to young women: "As a woman, it’s helpful to find ways to distinguish yourself. Having some formal education or professional accreditation—I’m an actuary, for example—but to be a lawyer or accountant or getting one of the underwriting designations gives you a credential that you always have. Someone can’t take it away from you. An industry badge so to speak. Plus, you learn something by doing it, which makes you smarter and more capable in the business."
Professional role model: "I really haven’t had a single role model. I try to observe other people and take a little bit away from each of them and make it my own. I’ve also done a lot of different things in my career, which meant that I’ve worked with a lot of different people from whom I’ve learned different things. Some people have a good way at presenting themselves. Other people tended to have a good way of communicating really technical things in a very easy-to-understand and nonthreatening way. I’ve also always gravitated toward people who tended to be ethical, honest and forthright in their dealings with people. But I wouldn’t say there was one single role model."
Best professional advice: "Al Beer from Tillinghast told me that I shouldn’t consider each career decision as being a life or death decision because other opportunities would come along. I think it’s important to solicit as much advice as you can, but I think you have to make your own decisions and you have to go with your heart. You shouldn’t follow someone else’s decision or pre-defined career path. If something feels right, or you enjoy it, or you think it’s a broadening experience, whatever, you should give it a shot. You should judge what the risks are of each."