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Cindy Slubowski

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Cindy Slubowski

Senior Manager of Risk Management and Insurance
Kraft Foods Inc.
Northfield, Ill.
Age: 53

In a short amount of time, Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. has seen Cindy Slubowksi, senior manager of risk management and insurance, implement a global risk management information system and achieve a unique brokerage compensation arrangement with her insurance brokers. But before any of that, Ms. Slubowski was the founding president of the Quad Cities chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. and spent more than 20 years in the industry before joining Kraft in 2007 from Zurich Financial Services Group, where she was a senior-level product manager. At Kraft, Ms. Slubowski integrated a RMIS that allows global management of the company's policy programs for more than 65 countries. She also pioneered a unique broker compensation structure at Kraft. Under the arrangement, broker services are broken down by function, activity and person performing the service. It is then reviewed to determine whether the service is needed, and pricing is set according to the individual's salary grade. This type of review has helped Kraft contain risk management provider costs and eliminate unnecessary expenses.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?

Build your network. Value the partnerships and the relationships you make, because they're the ones ultimately that will help you get where you need to be in this industry. Embrace social media. As an older person, it's something I definitely had to do. I am amazed every day at how many different people I meet through LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever other social media you happen to use. It really does work. And know what it is you want and where you want to go, in the beginning. Because after that, it kind of just takes a course of its own.

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

It takes the partnerships, the relationships and the friendships—and all of that pulled together—it takes collaboration. I'm amazed every day at how much collaboration it takes nowadays to get things done. It really, truly does take a village sometimes. Most people consider risk management to be kind of a one-person position in the company. But if you think that way nowadays, then you're not being effective enough in the risk management world. You won't get as much done if you don't learn collaboration.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?

My mentor was the (chief financial officer) of the very first company I ever worked for. He's the one who said, “This risk management thing, you need to go figure this out.” That was when I was in the Quad Cities. And that's actually how I started the Quad Cities chapter of RIMS, because I had to figure it out. So I reached out to the organization that risk managers belonged to. I was his administrative assistant and became the risk manager, and that was probably in 1987-1988.

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

I never really thought about my dream job, especially outside of the industry. But what I have always said is that I want to write a book. So I guess if I had a dream job, I would want to write a book and be president of something. Probably something that helps people or makes the world a better place.

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

I admire leaders who have a participative style of leadership. I love to study leadership and the leadership styles of people, from Steve Jobs to our own CEO to people like Margaret Thatcher.

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

I am a big (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”) fan. That's probably one of my favorite shows. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I do watch “CSI.” I just like the original one. I don't like the other ones.

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

Write a book is one of them and get a PhD is another. I'm not quite sure yet, but it keeps coming up to me. I'm what you call a continuous learner. I enjoy learning new and different things, especially outside of the industry. When you've done this as long as I have, there isn't too much that you haven't seen, heard or figured out by now.

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

I do use LinkedIn. When I was at the RIMS conference last year, I did (use) Twitter. I do enjoy LinkedIn. I belong to a number of different groups on LinkedIn, mostly women's groups, which I find to be a very valuable resource and support. There are a lot functions that they have that I've gone to that have helped me meet new people.