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Senior vice president, national commercial practice leader
Carolyn Polikoff ’s success in the insurance industry has meant giving up her one-time dream of becoming an investment banker, but she is more than happy with the path her career has taken.
At Rider College in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, said Ms. Polikoff, “I was a finance major, and I think all finance majors, at least at the time,” wanted be investment bankers, “and I was no different.”
But Ms. Polikoff found that potential investment bankers who did not have Ivy League degrees faced a difficult challenge landing a job. Instead, at a friend’s suggestion, she took advantage of her finance background and became an underwriting trainee at St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co.
Ms. Polikoff obtained her MBA at a subsequent job with CNA Financial Corp. It was then, she said, she realized insurance “was actually a good career.”
After a period with a startup, Ms. Polikoff joined Woodruff Sawyer in 2006, where she became practice leader for its directors and officers liability group in 2010.
In January 2017, after she became part of the brokerage’s leadership team, she was named national commercial practice leader, where she is responsible for commercial lines, which includes all property/casualty business as well as management liability.
Although Woodruff Sawyer is a 100-year-old firm, it has been growing quickly, said Ms. Polikoff. “My biggest business accomplishment is bringing better organization and modernization around their policies and procedures,” she said.
Having one place where salespeople could go for all the information they need “sounds really simple,” yet for a century-old firm that was growing so quickly it was “revolutionary,” said Ms. Polikoff.
Mike Roffler, executive vice president and chief finance officer for First Republic Bank in San Francisco, which is a client, said Ms. Polikoff is “extremely well-versed. She knows how to deal with clients and she knows how to look out for the client’s best interests.”
While Ms. Polikoff is an insurance expert, her husband Curt’s expertise is wine. He left corporate life to pursue his passion and became a sommelier. “I call him the most educated sommelier on Earth,” she said.
The Business Insurance Women to Watch Award program is evolving as we continue to celebrate the achievements of outstanding female executives in the insurance and risk management sector.