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Mary Sklarski

Posted On: Nov. 30, 2008 12:00 AM CST

Mary Sklarski

Chief Operating Officer

Woodruff-Sawyer & Co.

San Francisco

Age: 49

Mary Sklarski is the first female chief operating officer of insurance brokerage and consulting firm Woodruff-Sawyer. She is responsible for overseeing operations concerning growth and retention of clients. Additionally, she leads strategic programs and supports all practice groups in providing innovative products to clients.



HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY: "My father was in the industry, so I grew up around it and saw the people he worked with. When I was a senior in college, my dad invited me to go to the CPCU (Society) meeting in Hawaii. I saw the whole society and the quality of people there and the camaraderie they had."



THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED: "Look for the humor in a situation--it's a great way to keep the appropriate balance in life and work--and be passionate about what you do. The rest will follow."



ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY: "Choose to work for a quality organization that attracts people with integrity. Don't focus on the promotion; focus on the skills and tools you can acquire to make you a better business professional. Look for mentors both in and out of the industry that will challenge your thinking and broaden your perspective. Our industry continues to provide excellent opportunities for people of all skill sets."



WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY WHILE GROWING UP: "If I could have figured out how to make my summer swim coach job last all year long, I would've. You're working with kids. You're helping them. You're creating a team environment. You're outside, and there is a lot of energy in what you're doing."


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