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Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
Gallagher Bassett Services Inc.
Laura Greifenkamp is the first female chief financial officer of Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., a role she assumed after taking a seven-year hiatus from the insurance industry. After 19 years in leadership positions in finance, human resources, operations and technology, Ms. Greifenkamp stepped away from the business world to spend more time with her three daughters and to help launch and run a family landscaping business. During those years away from corporate America, Ms. Greifenkamp handled the business planning, accounting, financial and tax matters for the landscaping business. But when that chapter ended in 2011, Ms. Greifenkamp successfully demonstrated that it is possible to resume one's prior career and capitalize on her collective experiences as an executive, an entrepreneur and as a mother. Ms. Greifenkamp recently began serving as an executive sponsor in Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s Breakthrough Leadership Program, a leadership development program designed and delivered by Gallagher Bassett's parent company in conjunction with Harvard University to train young managers and the future leaders. Within months of joining Gallagher Bassett, she launched a summer college intern program and identified several women to mentor throughout the organization.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
Make your own path. Work hard, try different things, take risks, but make it your own. There are so many different opportunities, but you have to do what's right for you.
What attracted you to this industry?
I think the industry found me. I was looking for a change of lifestyle. On the road, constantly doing mergers and acquisitions and turnarounds — at that point in time, I had a 2½-year-old and a 1-month-old when I had my “ah-ha” moment. It was a lifestyle change and serendipity that the industry found me. That's when I went to CNA (Financial Corp.) in 1995. I was hired as assistant vice president in the internal consulting group.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Even though I'm a numbers person, I love working with people. If you have the right people in the right roles, the results will follow. I also like working in teams.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
This took me a long time to learn: I figured out that I could not do it all at the same time. Between … work and family and being on the road, choices have to be made. I was on the road doing deals, I had two children, I was going to Northwestern Kellogg School at night — I was trying to be a superwoman.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
My role model is really a mosaic of numerous people, both men and women, who have impacted me or taught me lessons over the years. I will mention two briefly from my early days at Coopers & Lybrand that come to mind: Sheree Speakman was a director who showed me that you can laugh and have fun while working hard and delivering results. She was a passionate “go-getter” and people person at the same time; Gail Mathews was a partner in the audit practice at Coopers, and by her actions she demonstrated that women deserve a seat at the table and on the (Olympia Fields, Ill.) golf course! Another piece of my mosaic is a dear friend of mine, Jennifer Convery. She has figured out how to be a successful business woman (president of Griffith Laboratories Inc.), an amazing partner to her husband, a great mom to her three sons and a good friend, all while finding the time to take care of her “self.”
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
I don't have one. I'm a big fan of living in the moment and getting as much out of life as you can, because you never know what's going to happen.
What's your secret vice?
It's wine, and it's not a secret. I like a chardonnay, but I also like to get toasty warm with cabs and merlots when it gets cold outside.
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.