Senior Vice President, Operations and Finance
Alliant Insurance Services Inc.
Reshma Dalia is responsible for operations and finance for the national Construction Services Group at Alliant. Her role spans the management of human resources, information technology and financial reporting and planning, and she focuses on increasing operational efficiency across 16 offices and more than 175 employees. She is an active member of SmartGirls, an organization that connects women in the construction industry and encourages them to work together to advance their career. On her bucket list is her plan to create and run a micro finance organization to help women in India achieve their own freedom and independence.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
I think at any given point in your career, you just have to make sure you’re surrounded by individuals who are supportive of your growth and your success. It’s the encouragement that these colleagues, mentors, family members and friends provide that’s critical to your ongoing achievement.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
Do not be afraid to take risks and challenge the status quo, and if you fail, focus on what you learned from the experience. One of my favorite quotes that describes this is by Malcolm Forbes: “Failure is success, if we learn from it.”
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
If I gave it away, it would no longer be a secret! Joking aside, I think first and foremost, if I gave it away, it would be that more than any other industry I’ve worked in, the insurance industry is extremely relationship-driven. I think it’s critical to maintain the relationships and network that you create from day one within the industry. Regardless of what moves you make in your career, maintain your network with your past and present colleagues and clients over the years, as your paths are likely to cross in the future.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
I think the greatest challenge for the construction industry will continue to be the current economic environment. Our clients continue to experience margin pressure, and until there’s a clearer picture of where the economy is heading, we will keep seeing a lot of construction projects on hold.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
Pilates. I think that Pilates is the perfect combination of stress relief and core strengthening, perfect for today’s woman on the go!
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET VICE?
Reading celebrity gossip magazines like In Touch.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
I think for me, working outside the insurance industry before re-entering it has allowed me to bring a unique perspective to the table. I often use guidelines and points of reference from my time in banking and apply them day to day to offer creative solutions to the issues at hand.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Ever since I was an undergraduate at Emory, it has been a personal goal to eventually create and run a microfinance organization to support less fortunate women by bolstering entrepreneurship and breaking down social barriers, thus helping drive personal and finance independence. My long-term goal is to create, run and help fund this type of organization in India. It would be extremely fulfilling to be able to provide an opportunity to women in need within the country to gain their own freedom and independence. I’m fortunate enough to have extensive Kellogg (School of Management, Northwestern University) and professional networks that will help me fulfill this goal when I’m ready to embark on this journey.