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A summer job with her father as a teenager is what sparked Lisa Corless’ interest in the insurance industry.
“My father was in the business and ... I worked over the summer with him. He had me work in the file room, and I thought it would be the most boring thing ever. What I was able to do was read the stories of the files and see how the insurance industry really reaches in and helps people when they are most in need and tries to make them whole again,” she said.
As president of Lansing, Michigan-based AF Group, Ms. Corless is responsible for AF Group and all its brands, including Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America, United Heartland Inc., CompWest Insurance Co. and Third Coast Underwriters. Prior to this appointment, she was a member of the executive team, serving as senior vice president, chief administration officer and chief of staff.
Before joining AF Group, Corless served as chief operating officer for Texas Mutual Insurance Co. and was responsible for all insurance operations.
During her tenure as president, AF Group has seen some significant financial landmarks, with two of the brands surpassing $100 million in underwriting income since she took the position in 2016. Her tenure also includes the launch of an innovations team in 2015.
“We recognized that this industry is sometimes a little bit slower to adapt to change than other industries and there was a need for us to be really forward-looking and get people with expertise that was outside of the box to reimagine the future of insurance,” she said.
Ms. Corless says perseverance is a key attribute for professional success. “Everybody has points in time where things don’t go exactly how they would have planned, and it’s in those points ... where there is an opportunity for learning. I think if you can learn from your failures, that’s where growth really happens,” she said.
Said Taiym, chief information officer for AF Group, considers Ms. Corless’ “compassion, attention to detail, ability to think about the big picture while simultaneously handling the details” as key factors in her success.
“Recently, we were having significant challenges in standing up a business unit, and at times I believed we weren’t going to be successful. Lisa, in all of her wisdom, simply said, ‘We will not fail, because you are leading it.’ This is a great example of the leadership and encouragement she consistently provides to ensure we are moving things forward and are successful as an organization,” Mr. Taiym said.
The Women to Watch awards program has been significantly expanded this year.