2020 Women to Watch: Elaine CoffmanPosted On: Dec. 2, 2020 12:00 AM CST
President, Lockton Michigan
Lockton Cos. LLC
As a high schooler, Elaine Coffman was introduced to the insurance world when her father started an agency selling life and executive benefits insurance. She quit her more lucrative nanny job to help get the family business off the ground, and when she graduated from college she began consulting for insurance companies.
“I knew (insurance) was something I enjoyed and was good at,” Ms. Coffman said. She later transitioned to the insurer side of the industry, then moved to brokerage, becoming a shareholder of a regional brokerage that was the largest in Michigan at the time. She and her partners sold the company to Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. in 2012. She stayed on with Marsh until 2019, when Lockton offered her the opportunity to open an office in the state.
“It was one of those ‘ah, ha!’ career moments, an opportunity to do something unique,” Ms. Coffman said.
Joe Agnello, CEO of Lockton Founders Series, said Ms. Coffman has been an “incredible addition” to Lockton and the right person to launch the brokerage’s Michigan operations.
“She’s beyond a dynamic leader — very positive and incredibly knowledgeable about the industry,” he said. Ms. Coffman has since been tasked with opening a second office in Grand Rapids, in addition to the one in Detroit.
Before joining Lockton, Ms. Coffman made sure the brokerage understood her commitment to diversity, both in prioritizing the hiring of diverse talent in Michigan and ensuring the company was committed to diversity in high-level leadership as well.
“In the worst job in my career … I was one of two women in leadership in the entire company,” she said. “There were times I didn’t feel like I was speaking English. I do think women need to make sure they don’t find themselves” in that situation.
In her position at Lockton, Ms. Coffman is focused on recruiting diverse talent out of college and providing training and challenges to help these individuals grow in their careers.
“We need to push our young talent, not just make them feel like they’re pushing paper in our business,” she said.