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2018 Women to Watch: Karen Williams

Karen Williams

Karen Williams
Senior managing director and national practice leader
Krauter & Co.
New York
Age: 57

As Karen Williams puts it, “I didn’t choose insurance, insurance chose me.” And insurance propelled her on a career that began as a typist in her homeland of Jamaica to her current position as senior managing director and national practice leader at New York-based brokerage Krauter & Co.

Among her stops along the way, she worked for Kornreich NAI Group, which later became part of Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, as a senior account manager and took on progressively more complicated responsibilities. From there she joined Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., then Krauter.

While at Marsh & McLennan Agency, she handled the account of Island Capital, a New York-based real estate investment firm. “She’s extremely professional and knowledgeable,” said Yvonne Owens, co-risk manager of the company. She calls Ms. Williams “very much client-oriented,” and said Ms. Williams created a “great program for us.”

Earlier in her career, Ms. Williams had to confront sexism. A challenge was “overcoming the stigma that as a woman I knew less than my male peers about insurance.” She dealt with it by having “a philosophy of excellence, with a goal to change the mindset through the work that you do.”

At Krauter, Ms. Williams handles brokering, ongoing mergers and acquisitions, recruiting, training and developing new hires. She also engages in mentoring, in part through the firm’s Junior Broker Forum, which pairs junior and senior brokers.

Ms. Williams said she thought the company “needed to give a little more voice to a group of young incoming talented individuals — how do you make them feel important and relevant?” The forum allows them to exchange ideas, said Ms. Williams, who serves as an adviser to the group.

She said the opportunity given to her at Krauter has opened up another world for her as a broker and as a leader. When she sees the young talent she has mentored doing well “it’s a feeling of gratitude that you were able to have made a meaningful contribution to their lives.”

NEXT: Olivia Cooper
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