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President and CEO
Accident Fund Holdings Inc.
As president and CEO of Lansing, Mich.-based Accident Fund Holdings Inc., Elizabeth Haar oversees a rapidly expanding workers compensation insurer with national breadth. The company has nearly doubled in size and spread its offerings into several new states since she was named president and CEO of Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America in 2009. Known for her forward-thinking vision, Ms. Haar also serves on boards that benefit the local community and the workers compensation industry. In May, for instance, she was elected to serve as a board member for NCCI Holdings Inc.
WHAT'S THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU RECEIVED?
One of the pieces of advice I always remember is from a man I consider a mentor and a very good role model. His name was Roy Westran and he was president of Citizens Insurance, which I was at before I came to the Accident Fund and then we were fortunate enough to have him as chair of our board for several years here at the Accident Fund before he retired. Roy passed away a couple of years ago. But one of the things Roy always told me is, "You always have to care about the business and be good at what you do, but you always have to remember why things are working and to be grateful for that." To be grateful for your workforce and everything they do for you and the company. Be grateful for your agents and that they want to do business with your organization and be grateful for your policyholders. I have always found that to be very good advice because, as we all know, you can't do anything in this world alone. Sometimes we forget to be grateful for all the things we do have and all the people working day in and day out every day to help us.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Be open-minded about your career path. I always think people are much more successful if they try and learn and add value. And if they are focused on learning and adding value, and not focused on, "What job do I want next and by when," they are going to be more successful.
OUTSIDE OF WORK AND FAMILY, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
There are leaders I admire, but all for different reasons. It's the word "most" that is a challenge for me because there are a lot of people I admire, but all for something very specific that they bring. A lot of people I admire are somewhat related to work because they are people I admire because of how they run their organization or how they run our country.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
A teacher or professor.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
If I had to pick one I would pick one like "Field of Dreams." I love the possibilities. A movie like "Field of Dreams" makes you think about the possibilities that there are.
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE YOU'VE BEEN?
Prague. It's a wonderful city and it's interesting that it has so much of its history and culture still intact given everything it has been through. But yet it also has the feel of a city that knows how to move forward. When you take a look at what that country and what that city have been though over the last century it's just amazing. But yet you go there and it's very vibrant, it's very lively, it's very friendly and very resilient.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER AND WHY: PHONE OR E-MAIL?
I like them both for different things. They both have their place. The challenge is when someone likes just phone or just e-mail and it's not well suited for the task at hand. I think e-mail is a great communication tool when you need to get very short simple message out to a lot of people and its easy to understand. But when it's a more nuanced message or more complicated, it needs to be in person or over the phone.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify and recognize individuals doing exceptional work in risk management, benefits management, commercial insurance and related fields.