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2020 Women to Watch: Virna Alexander Rhodes

Virna Alexander Rhodes

Virna Alexander Rhodes
Vice president, global risk solutions
Liberty Mutual Holding Co. Inc.
Marlton, New Jersey
Age: 53

Like many people in the insurance business, Virna Alexander Rhodes entered the industry by accident — she and her best friend wanted to get an apartment in Baltimore and Allstate Corp. was the first job offer that came along. 

She started in claims and found the work aligned well with her natural tendencies. “I’m very organized, methodical and analytical, and have the ability to synthesize information and make decisions,” she said. “That turned out to be one of the core competencies I needed to be successful.”

As she moved into leadership roles, she took an interest in helping others grow their careers in insurance. Mentoring has become so important that she now actively mentors eight people at Liberty Mutual and is involved in several employee resource groups. 

“To me, lending my time to the mentorship and employee resource groups is a talent-sourcing opportunity,” she said. “I look at it as being a part of what I’m responsible for as a leader.”

While Ms. Alexander said she did have a few mentors who helped shepherd her career, when she began working in insurance there were few women and few people of color. She learned that to get opportunities in the industry, she had to advocate for herself, network and be clear about what she wanted to achieve — something she hopes to instill in young people in the industry. 

“(I hope) to leave a legacy of leaders that I’ve groomed behind me, and have them reach higher career potential,” she said. “I take that very seriously, and I celebrate when my mentees are moving up.”

In January, Ms. Alexander was promoted to vice president of global risk solutions at Liberty Mutual. Her former supervisor, Toby Rollins, senior vice president of global retail markets casualty claims, said Ms. Alexander is an “outstanding” leader he was sad to lose. 

“She checks all of the boxes that I look for in a leader,” he said. 

Outside of work, Ms. Alexander continues with her mission of helping others through involvement in service organizations focused on improving the lives of African Americans, and mentors women in those organizations as well.

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    The Business Insurance Women to Watch awards program highlights the achievements of female leaders in the insurance sector to celebrate their success and promote gender diversity in the industry.