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Gamma Iota Sigma
Noelle Codispoti, executive director of the Gamma Iota Sigma international collegiate fraternity for students pursuing careers in risk management, insurance and actuarial science, knew soon after she started college that she was destined to become an “insurance nerd.” On her first trip to New York, she made a stop at Marsh Inc. headquarters a top priority over touring the Empire State Building. A Spencer scholar, Ms. Codispoti majored in actuarial science and risk management at Temple University in Philadelphia. She also served as president of the university's chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma. Ms. Codispoti was appointed the student representative to the national executive committee of the fraternity's board of trustees in 2004, continuing on as an executive committee member after graduation, when she began her career at Ace USA. Gamma Iota Sigma's board selected Ms. Codispoti to be the organization's first paid executive director, and since assuming that post in 2011, she has grown the organization from 1,170 student members to more than 2,000 today at 57 colleges and universities throughout North America.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
The best advice that I could offer is advice that someone also gave me when I first started my career: Empower yourself along your career. Have a vision and be passionate and relevant, always striving to be the expert in your industry segment.
What attracted you to this industry?
During my college career, I was exposed to an endless stream of industry professionals. They were always passionate, and they talked about how it was always changing and they never did the same things two days in a row. You can do anything in this industry. Insurance encompasses all aspects of our life and every type of industry. There's something for everyone, and it's always changing. After the events of 2008, I don't understand why more of our industry leaders didn't step up at schools of business at colleges and universities across the country and demand to know why risk management isn't a bigger part of the business curriculum.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Finding new ways to enrich our students' learning and professional development. That's what I strive to do every day. This translates into the success of our industry.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
To ask good questions and to ask all of your questions. We want to produce the best product for our clients and, in my role, to provide the best experience for my students. To do that, you have to have all the information. There's always another question to ask, more information to discover, and you won't discover it unless you ask that question.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
Teresa Black, assistant vice president at Ace USA, who was my first manager after school. There wasn't a better professional role model. She handled everything with grace and was super intelligent — always found the best way to handle things. She was someone immediately from Day One I wanted to emulate. She also was a working mom.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
To visit Lloyd's of London. This shows that I'm an insurance nerd at heart. Usually within a couple of minutes of meeting me, you'll discover that. I used to want to go skydiving, but now that I have kids I worry about something bad happening. If there's one thing that I've wanted to do or wanted to see, I want to experience what this industry is all about — and it's Lloyd's.
What's your secret vice?
I like to play Super Mario Kart and chess with my 7-year-old son. But I don't ever let him win!
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.