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Tracy Hatlestad leads the market and regulatory knowledge team at Aon Benfield. Based in Singapore, her responsibilities include providing clients and brokers with up-to-date information, pricing analysis for U.S. property catastrophe placements and handling requests for proposals for new and existing business for Aon Benfield Analytics. Ms. Hatlestad, 37, joined E.W. Blanch, which later became part of Aon, as a trainee in 1998. She has coordinated networking events for female colleagues in Aon Benfield's Minneapolis office, where she previously was based, and enjoys mentoring colleagues. She coordinated multiple charitable events for the Minneapolis office and participated in a mission to South Africa to promote HIV/AIDS education. She majored in international business and Spanish at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and received an MBA in finance from the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
Your ability to speak well about your own accomplishments is very important. In any field largely dominated by men, I think women need to learn to promote the good work they do. In my experience, men inherently do this better than women. It will get you ahead a lot quicker if you are able eloquently to talk about your accomplishments — not in a boastful way, but in a way that is specific. Beyond that, my best advice to anyone entering this field would be to get involved in a number of aspects of the business when you're new to the industry. Where I started and where I am today are very different, and I wouldn't have reached this point without the work experience I had in other areas of the business early on in my career.
What attracted you to this industry?
The people. I was 22 and fresh out of college when I was hired into the company, and hadn't even heard of reinsurance. I just liked the chemistry of the team that interviewed me, and they seemed smart and to work hard but also have fun and respect each other.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Team wins, especially when it's part of something new. A new deal, a new type of transaction, a strategic initiative internally. A lot of the things I do are team-based. It's fun to win on your own, but for me it's even better to win as a team.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
There's a quote that I heard a while ago that resonates with me at different times in my career. It's something like … “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.” I find that the toughest challenges need a full commitment if you want to see them happen. Anything less just doesn't get the job done. If you decide to do something, then totally commit.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
I don't know that I have a specific one per se, but there are a couple traits that I really admire in some women. The first being a woman who doesn't try to adopt masculine characteristics in order to succeed in a field dominated by men. The second being a woman who can start from nothing and create something significant just because of the sheer passion they have for what they're doing.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
I actually just did what was at the top. I had always wanted to work in an office outside the United States, and I recently moved to Singapore in a new role at Aon. I'm excited about the opportunity to work with new people who have different perspectives than mine and to make use of the proximity to so may great places in Asia that would have been more difficult to visit coming from the United States.
What's your secret vice?
Great handbags. I don't know how secret that is, but I think a simple black dress, some accessories and a great handbag can get you through a lot of different types of days. A great handbag has always been a staple for me.
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.