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UP CLOSE: Gina Higgins

UP CLOSE: Gina Higgins


NEW JOB TITLE: New York-based senior managing director of the commercial insurance services group for Frank Crystal & Co.

PREVIOUS POSITION: New York-based executive vp overseeing the national middle-market division and client advocate practice at Willis North America.

GOALS FOR NEW POSITION: I want to penetrate the book of business we have. We have clients that have been with us for a long time. I view that as a sign that we are doing a great job for them because the retention rate is high. What I would like to do is develop and design innovative products for them to better serve them.

CHALLENGES FACING INDUSTRY: As the market hardens, the challenge will be placing appropriate programs and services for companies. In a soft market, anyone can broker anything. In a hard market, you need the experience of solid brokers with a good background who know how to navigate the market and find the best deals for clients.

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK: It's very positive. We are looking at growth and moving forward. I see us growing stronger. It's a product that everyone needs. Regardless of the challenges, clients will still need proper insurance at the end of the day.

BEST THING ABOUT A BAD ECONOMY: You see creativity among experienced brokers. We are working with limited budgets, so you have to be creative.

FIRST EXPERIENCE IN JOB MARKET: I was at Johnson & Higgins (Inc.) as one of their first work-study students. I went to college for six months and worked for them six months. They paid for my college and put me through law school as well. I started in the office right after high school. They were wonderful to me.

ADVICE: It's a great field to be in. The best thing you can do is get to know the products very well. Form close relationships with the markets.

OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY, A DREAM JOB: I have a law background, so it would be litigation. I like challenges and I like to think on my feet.

HOBBIES: I love reading, walking and skiing. I enjoy doing things with my children.

MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT: Education. I am passionate about learning. I push my employees as much as I push my children. Even when you think you know everything, you don't.