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Senior Director of Risk Management and Insurance
Diane Askwyth was named senior director of risk management and insurance in 2005, bringing more than 25 years of risk management, brokerage, profit center management and risk consulting experience to her role. Previously, she was director of risk management for Avaya Inc. in Basking Ridge, N.J., and before that, a senior risk management consultant for PricewaterhouseCooper’s L.L.P. In addition, she spent many years on the insurance brokerage side with Marsh Inc., J&H Insurance Services Inc. and Willis Group Holdings Ltd. Ms. Askwyth is a current member and past president of the Assn. of Professional Insurance Women, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the insurance industry. She is also on the board of the New York chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., and is its vp of programs. She is also an active participant in the Risk Managers Roundtable and the Drug Industry Group.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY: "I fell into the insurance industry quite accidentally. During my senior year of high school, I enrolled in a work-study program at Travelers Insurance Co. in personal lines. That was my entrée into the insurance (world)…. I continued at Travelers partway through college and then I moved on to other insurance jobs during college and after college. I thought there was a tremendous amount of opportunity in the industry."
THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED: "I grew up when women didn’t have as many opportunities as they do today, so I was told to walk into a room like you belong there and people will think you do. Take risks and seek out opportunities. Accept challenging opportunities. Keep learning and never stop building and nurturing your network. I’ve taken all that advice to heart. It’s all been used and reused."
ADVICE FOR THOSE STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY: "Have a very open mind. I think there are amazing and diverse opportunities in the insurance business. Be flexible, keep learning, and move around. Seize opportunities, don’t wait for them to come to you, and play to your strengths. In doing so, you will always have a job you love. That’s been my game plan and it’s always worked well for me."
WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY WHILE GROWING UP: "I was very artistic. I loved to paint, draw, sculpt and experiment with different media. I attended a magnet school. I intended to major in graphic arts. Then I decided I wanted to be a rich capitalist instead of a starving artist and transferred to a public school in high school. No regrets on that."
Business Insurance’s Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify some of the women who do outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk management,employee benefits and related fields.