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Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer
Alliant Insurance Services Inc.
Newport Beach, Calif.
Diana Kiehl has worked to make Alliant Insurance Services Inc. a leaner and more diverse company during her 22 years with the brokerage. She has spearheaded the company's Process Improvement Initiative, which uses Six Sigma/Lean Process improvement strategies and generated $5 million in savings from increased efficiency. She also has mentored Alliant's up-and-coming leaders during the past seven years through the company's leadership development program.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
In my career, I chose to look for as much opportunity as I could to learn everything I could about the industry, about the business, about my company, to really understand it in depth. Ask lots of questions, be a sponge and take every opportunity to grow. Explore different roles and positions and experiences, and if you're suited to it, get involved in leadership. That's where you can really make a difference by influencing the behavior of others. Alliant has really given me a chance to do all those things. I never imagined or had a goal in mind of coming into the C-suite. I just had no idea that my interests and my drive would lead me here.
What attracted you to this industry?
I think it was the opportunity to grow a career path. I started as a sales secretary, and just looked at the opportunity ahead of me and the depth and complexity of the business. When I came to work at Alliant, the thing that just amazed me was that I was working with some of the most talented, creative people that were solving real problems for clients. It's been an exciting part of being in this organization.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
The thing that I have the most pride about is solving problems as a team, identifying opportunities for change and figuring out what we should be doing, implementing that, testing those results, improving those results and getting there with a team. I also think developing others has been a huge thing for me at Alliant. To be able to offer the training that we've been able to offer, and to see that the executive team is so committed to these people, it's just been really rewarding to me. We've been able to give women and men an opportunity to grow into sales positions, into leadership roles and into high-level service people.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
There are two things. One is to look outside the box and get creative about solving problems. Focus on things that are really different and that can help your company innovate. You have to be creative to achieve things in large organizations. Another thing that I've learned to do over time is to really focus on getting things done, doing the right thing for people, living your mission, living your values every day and in everything that you do, and really focusing on getting obstacles out of the way, whatever they are.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
There have been several women in my life, and I don't know that I can focus on one alone. But some of the characteristics of those women have been that they've been leaders in their organization, whether it be a business or a spiritual organization, and they've been what I call a servant leader. They've experienced and performed great sacrifice, but done it with such love and concern for others. Those are the people and women that I aspire to be like.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
One thing I love doing is spending time on the water, and I don't ever seem to get enough of that. I would really love to take some sailing lessons and learn to sail.
What's your secret vice?
I can't figure out a secret one, since I'm a pretty open person. I love to quilt. It's a passion of mine that's just grown and grown, and it's my favorite thing right after being a wife and mom.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women who are doing outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk and benefits management, and related fields, including consulting and law.