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Marcia Benshoof

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Marcia Benshoof

President of Benefits
IMA Financial Group Inc.
Denver
Age: 52

Marcia Benshoof has more than 30 years of insurance industry experience, including executive positions in the workers compensation and managed care marketplaces. Since January, she has been charged with transforming IMA Financial Group Inc.'s benefits practice into IMA Benefits, a new business division that assists clients in effectively adapting to health care reform while still running their businesses. Previously, she was president of IMA of Colorado. In addition, she's been part of a health care reform think tank for more than two decades. Ms. Benshoof has also developed and executed legislative strategy around health care and insurance issues at the state and federal levels. She serves on several boards and committees, including the Healthcare Executives Forum, a Colorado-based private think tank of executives from an array of areas of expertise that study health care from a business, financial and public policy perspective. She also is a member of Colorado's Business Leaders in Managed Care.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?

Work hard at your core job and become an expert at it, but take on as many different projects as you can and really get to know the business of insurance. Develop a technical knowledge. Understand how the economics of insurance drive the business you're insuring, as well as the larger economy.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?

The most interesting thing has been that insurance is—when you distill it down to its most basic level—about human resources. Whether its workers compensation insurance, property insurance or health insurance, the most important thing and interesting thing is that a life or lifeblood is attached to the end of that “transaction.”

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?

Her name was Bennie Hamlin, and she was vp of the first company I worked for right out of college. I was in managed care at the time. It was amazing for me to be immediately involved with a female executive. I had a lot of access to her. She was extraordinarily successful. She has been priceless. She would throw me into the deep end of everything so I could learn. She made me into a businessperson. Every time I was scared to do something I hadn't done before, she'd say, “You'll figure it out.” She believed in me no matter what.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB, OUTSIDE OF YOUR CURRENT ROLE?

To live in Haiti, in the jungle, and work on an immunization team or children's hospital. I did it in the beginning of my career, and it was life-changing, and I will always want to go back. I believe in serving other people. I believe we are all here to make a difference.

OUTSIDE OF FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?

Nelson Mandela: I'm a student of leadership and influence. When I think of Nelson Mandela and the fact he was in jail more than 25 years and he still managed to lead a nation and conquer oppression—that's the definition of influence.

WHAT'S YOUR CAN'T-MISS TV SHOW?

“Chelsea Lately.” It's that sardonic wit that I love. She doesn't take anything too seriously. It's kind of irreverent, which is like my sense of humor. I can't take myself or anyone else too seriously, which gets me in trouble sometimes.

BEYOND WORK, WHAT ONE THING DO YOU WANT TO DO OR ACCOMPLISH IN LIFE?

I want to visit all (the) wonders of the world. They represent the best of nature and of people. They exhibit what is possible in the most impossible scenario.

DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

I use Facebook and LinkedIn. Sometimes I use Foursquare, which is a way of organizing your social media so it all goes to one place. My assistant at my last job was 27, and she got me into social media. I use Facebook for friends and family, and my company has a Facebook page for employees as well. I use LinkedIn professionally. Social media is so efficient. It's the way we communicate now. I don't email my family anymore. We can all talk at the same time. It's more real-time and vibrant, fluid and flexible.