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Senior Vice President, Head of Strategic Operations and Chief Financial Officer of IronServe
Lisa Freeman has been a key leader in Ironshore Inc.'s recent development. Her roles have ranged from conducting due diligence for a 2010 debt offering that raised $250 million for the firm, designing the company's first website and marketing materials, and serving as the chief financial officer for IronServe, Ironshore's back-office operations unit that works in partnership with New York outsourcing firm Genpact Ltd. Additionally, Ms. Freeman mentors youth in Bermuda, as well as students at her alma mater, the George Washington University School of Business in Washington, where she earned a B.B.A. in finance and international business.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
My advice for women entering this field would be to have a career plan and chart your own course. Know where you want to go, but be flexible. A big thing that I worked on in my graduate program was a five-year plan, and Bermuda was never in my five-year plan. But as opportunities come up, seize them and go for it. You have to have an idea where you want to go, and then along the way you'll meet mentors and people that can help you get there. But you have to know what you want coming in, and roughly where you want to go.
What attracted you to this industry?
I know a lot of people think insurance is so boring, but I think it's interesting because there are so many different facets of business and insurance. If you like finance, you can do finance. If you like marketing, there are tons of opportunities in marketing. You're not in one specific industry, you're touching all sorts of industries, and you get a breadth of industry views working with different clients or specialties. The other thing I think is interesting about the industry is it's a facilitator for businesses. Insurance allows them to be innovative and protect the downside risk on their products. It touches a lot of different industries, and because of that there are a lot of different opportunities to do a lot of different things versus being pigeonholed in one industry.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
I am a big “sticky note” person. I like to make lists and cross things off, and I think being able to see projects from start to finish is really interesting. It's neat to see a project that you worked really hard on go to the board of directors and get completed. IronServe is a great example. It took us about a year to research, decide what we wanted to do, and how we were going to do it. It was a very long process, and a lot of due diligence went into it. Now two years later, it's been a big success.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
I think avoiding politics is a big lesson. I think you're best served putting your head down and doing your work. People want to manage people who do a great job and who aren't a big management headache. I think avoiding playing political games and just doing a good job of letting your hard work speak for itself is a valuable lesson.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
We have a family friend who has been a good role model for me. I've known her for about 25 years. She was an entrepreneur who had several businesses and was very successful. She has a great presence. She always — as successful as she was in her business career — was very down to earth and very fun to be around. So I looked up to her and her accomplishments.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
I love to travel and I've had the opportunity to travel a lot. Every year, my husband and I go on a big trip somewhere. There are a lot of places I've seen, but there's a ton of places I still want to go. One of the top things on my current bucket list is I'd like to go to the Monaco Grand Prix. My husband is a big racecar fan. He races Go-Karts, and I'm always willing to pair something he'll enjoy with a trip to a neat spot. I've been to Monaco, but never for the Grand Prix, and I thought that would be a cool event. We both turn 35 in 2015, and our birthdays are close to the Grand Prix, so I'm planning to do that then.
What's your secret vice?
I love bacon. I was a strict vegetarian for about 10 years. But the last five years of that, I was a vegetarian who ate bacon. Now I'm not really a vegetarian any more, but I do like bacon.
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.