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Mandy McNeil has worked to build Moore-McNeil L.L.C. into a growing firm providing insurance due diligence and risk management services for the financial services industry. Ms. McNeil cofounded the company in 2004 with partner Charles Moore after nearly 20 years of working in the finance sector. Within its first year, Moore-McNeil was involved in up to 75% of all project financings in the United States, and the company was sold to Alliant Insurance Services in 2008. As a survivor of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, Ms. McNeil says she has grown from the experience and has resolved to start tackling her “bucket list.” Additionally, Ms. McNeil volunteers her time as an angel investor — someone who funds startup companies, usually out of their own pocket — and mentor for women entrepreneurs and as a sponsor for various Nashville nonprofits.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Find a good mentor who’s been in the industry for a long time and partner with them. And that’s male or female — it doesn’t matter. My business partner Charlie Moore is an icon in the project finance insurance world. Our skill sets complement each other. We would not have been able to build the business we did individually.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
A: Friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. B: There is no ‘I’ in team. C: Fake it till you make it … Women in business have to be able to operate in tangents as well as straight (lines), and we often juggle many things personally as well as professionally. Sometimes it’s good to know that we aren’t all superheroes.
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
There (are) a lot of really super people who are working really hard. I think that insurance is overlooked by a lot of people as something to look at the last minute. But for at least the work that I do, it’s actually a critical part of getting a transaction done.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
Hopefully the next challenge is an increased push for renewable financing and new clean technology, including offshore wind and wave power.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I have a big interest in art and I support a lot of people, and mentor them and (try) to get their artwork into a more commercial environment. And I have a son, so I hang out with him. He just turned 6.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
It’s not so secret, and it’s chocolate.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
I’m from New Zealand. So that actually has been an unexpected aid to my career here because we tend not to take ourselves too seriously. I really like people and I really like doing deals, so I really enjoy the whole relationship behind the transaction. The other thing is that I tend to hire from outside the insurance industry because I have a background in finance and treasury management, and that helped me to look at transactions from the side of where my clients are coming from.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
The immediate thing that’s on the top of my bucket list is to make a CD with my father who’s a singer/songwriter. I like to write songs and I like to sing occasionally. The other one is to take my son to Europe and to spend a couple months living there. I’m a World Trade Center survivor, so I’ve spent a really long time just getting myself back into a mode of being able to be confident to go out and do some of these things. It was a really traumatic experience for me for years, and I lost a whole lot of people who were friends and my mentor. So I’m now kind of at the point where I can sit back and say, “OK, I need to do some of these things on my bucket list,” because life can just disappear tomorrow or today. You spend a lot of time putting off things and making up reasons why you can’t do them. Now I have to find reasons why I can.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.