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Vp and Unit Manager
XL Reinsurance America
Dawn Dinkins, vp and unit manager, claims, at Stamford, Conn.-based XL Reinsurance America, graduated from State University of New York at New Paltz. Before joining XL America in 1993, she worked as a field claim representative for Cincinnati-based General Accident Insurance Group and Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc.'s property/casualty operations. Since 1996, Ms. Dinkins has participated in reinsurance industry efforts to develop standards required to bring Electronic Data Interface, which permits the electronic transmission of claims notices and supporting documentation, to reality.
Your professional role model: I'll say I don't have any one person, but I can honestly say that I've been fortunate throughout my career to have known several extraordinary people whose advice and support have inspired me and whose actions have inspired me to be the person I am today. They smile in the face of adversity, are always well prepared and thorough in everything they do, and continually strive for excellence, and pushed me to excel and expand my horizon.
Best professional advice you've received: The best advice I have received is one that not only applies in my professional life, but in my personal life, which is to never end the quest for knowledge, and this has prompted me to be a lifelong learner, and that commitment has served me throughout my career. We live in a time of constant change that demands we acquire new information and stay on top of our game and we would be kidding ourselves if we think we have all the answers….Never stop learning.
Advice for young women entering this field: The advice I would give to not only young women, but to anyone, is to make sure that you love what you do and to make it your mission to learn every aspect of your craft. You have to be passionate so you can be inspired, and you should never settle for mediocrity, either in yourself or others around you, and to always work with the highest level of integrity.
What you wanted to be professionally while growing up: I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a career in business. I grew up in Jamaica with my grandparents, who owned a small grocery store, and I used to help them with their books and inventory and I enjoyed it, having that kind of responsibility at a young age. It taught me the importance of working hard and it was immensely gratifying to know that I, even as a youngster, was in some small way contributing to my grandparents' business, so from that perspective, I knew whatever career path I chose, the work would have to be challenging, meaningful and also rewarding.
The best book you've read recently: I recently finished "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. It's about relationships between mothers and daughters and friendship between women, and it was set around the time of the Taliban imposing their repressive rules on women. It was disturbing to read, just because of the hardship and the brutality suffered by the heroine, but I was still emotionally connected to her sprit, and it's about human spirit, and its ability to endure and triumph over incredible hardship.
Phone or e-mail and why: I prefer the phone. E-mail serves its purpose, and it has its place in business communication. However, there's some communications that are best served by a personal phone call. There's something more personal about two people talking to each other, and I think it goes a long way to build stronger business relationships and building rapport, and also being able to effectively communicate messages or information that you're expressing with a person. It's difficult to get a sense of a person through an e-mail, and there are times when e-mails may not accurately convey your intent. So it's useful, in some respects, but if I can use the phone more often than e-mail I much prefer to do that, but I do understand that e-mails have a purpose and I will use them when appropriate.
Business Insurance’s 2009 Women to Watch feature is our annual attempt to identify women who are doing outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.