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Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana
Baton Rouge, La.
It did not take Peggy Scott long to distinguish herself as a singular talent in accounting and corporate management. She was promoted to full partner and office managing partner after just 10 years with Deloitte L.L.P., making her the first woman in the company’s 114-year history to head one of its U.S. offices. In addition to her duties at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ms. Scott has served as an adjunct professor at Tulane University, an editorial advisor to the Journal of Accountancy and board president of the Dean’s Advisory Council at Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
For women entering the health insurance space, the glass ceiling has really come off. Women have broken through and risen to the very top of this industry. The opportunities exist from top to bottom, and our industry has really arrived and emerged as an exciting place for women to be.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
Get an education, and continuously build on that education. Don’t just get a college degree and let that be that. As times change and as the industry changes, you’re going to need to keep up with technology, changes in the leadership space and in the general business space. You need to evolve with the industry, rather than just assume that you’ll be set for life with an entry-level degree.
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
Our industry is being turned on its head by the health care reform, and that represents a tremendous business opportunity for people with all different kinds of skill sets. Whether your background is in product development, direct sales, financial management or a number of other fields, these are all talents and abilities that might not have been as appreciated in our industry a few years ago but will absolutely be needed going forward.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
At the beginning of 2014, that’s when the health care reform act will become effective, for the most part. We’ve been adopting pieces and parts in smaller roll-outs over the last few years, but 2014 is when the entire exchange environment goes live. That’s a big challenge for us because, although our industry does sell direct to consumers, this is going to be something really different.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I’m teased around the office from time to time about my optimistic attitude, but it’s something I do make an effort to maintain because I think it does relieve stress. If you approach things from the viewpoint of every problem having a solution and every challenge representing an opportunity, it really can lower your amount of stress. But on the days that stress does get to me, I address it in one of two ways: I exercise vigorously, and I spend time in the garden.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
Hershey’s dark chocolate miniatures, without question. They’re deadly.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
I’ve never understood it, but I’ve been told throughout my career that I have an ability to motivate people to perform at an extremely high level and dedicate extra time to their jobs without actually asking them to do it. They tell me that there’s something about my enthusiasm for what I do that motivates people to rise above expectations. People have been telling me that for 20 years.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I’ve been very blessed with a lot of success over the course of my career, and I feel very fortunate for it. What I’d really like to do before I retire is say that I was able to help and mentor others as they make their way through their careers. At this point, the question has become what kind of contribution can I make and what kind of legacy can I leave behind that might help others carve out their own path.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.