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Jennifer J. Fahey
Executive Vice President, Chief Broking Officer-Americas
Aon Risk Solutions
In her 15 years at Aon P.L.C., Jennifer Fahey’s career has been marked by steady advancement and the assumption of ever-greater responsibilities. It would be hard to overstate the scope of responsibilities inherent to her post as executive vice president and chief broking officer for the Americas for Aon Risk Solutions, where Ms. Fahey manages brokers representing more than $30 billion in annual client premiums in 12 countries. Likewise, in her previous position as national sales and marketing leader for the U.S., she was tasked with managing a national sales force of 225 producers and 800 account executives. Ms. Fahey also has demonstrated her ability to conceive and develop new business units, building a case for investment and developing a public-sector practice for Aon Risk Solutions in 2010. In her free time, the mother of three enjoys traveling and, alongside her husband, is active in charities.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Pick one to three areas of specialization to excel at. People also should look for mentors, both formal and informal, within their firm and elsewhere in the industry. I always think women underestimate the value of networking. I remember reading a profile of a female CEO in The New York Times’ Corner Office column where she spoke of the power of networking to build a power base to assist your career aspirations. As a generalization, we tend to believe that work ethic and results should carry the day, when in reality they probably take us 60% of where we want to be. Networking is career planning, plain and simple, although too many women view it as brown-nosing.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
As the saying goes, ‘90% of life is just showing up’ — the implication being that you need to be in the present and concentrate on the issues at hand. The face-to-face time that we spend with our clients and carrier partners is invaluable.
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
That it’s amazing and the opportunities are endless! There are so many different skill sets that are valued and so many directions in which you can take your career. I’ve attended business school and other graduate studies, and inevitably I find people in what appear to be desirable, lucrative positions saying that they are bored by the lack of diversity in their roles. The diversity presented by the key roles in our industry is tremendous. The other fantastic thing about our business is the ability to interact with clients at a relatively early point in your career. That’s a marked difference from other industries, where you can be buried away from clients for long stretches of time.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
The challenge is to keep adapting and innovating. Insurance is a very old business, but the landscape that we and our clients are operating in is very dynamic. We have to ensure that our industry is anticipating the needs presented by that dynamic landscape.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
Work harder to make sure that I’m leaving less work undone. Outside of work, I run, I spend time with family. Another one of my favorite things is to travel to countries I haven’t yet seen.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
I’m not that exciting.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
Two of the smaller things that have been very helpful are an ability to do work anywhere I am, whether it be in cars or airplanes. I see people who struggle with motion sickness as effectively having a disability because I can’t imagine how I would get all the things I need to do done if faced with that challenge. I also have an ability to concentrate, even in a crowded, loud space. I travel a great deal, so both of those skills are really helpful.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
On a personal level, I love to travel. I’ve been to more than 45 countries at this point and love visiting places I’ve never been before to better understand their culture, art and people. On a business level, I would like to give back to our industry by ultimately having a role where I can help people who have achieved a senior level in the organization continue to advance, especially women and minorities.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.