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2020 Women to Watch: Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson 
Chief pricing actuary and senior vice president
Zurich North America
Schaumburg, Illinois
Age: 57

A love for math in high school is what ultimately guided Sharon Robinson to the field of actuarial science. 

While exploring potential career paths at age 17, “I read an article about career options for people who like math,” she said. Sources for information were the Society of Actuaries and a statistics society, both of which she contacted. She never heard back from the statistics organization, but “the SOA sent me a ton of information. I read through the material and I was sold.”

One brochure, directed to minorities, made a lasting impression. “There was a photo of a woman whom I came to learn was the first African American woman to achieve fellowship in the SOA,” Ms. Robinson said. “As a young African American woman looking at a profession I had never heard of, her photograph was really impactful.”

When Ms. Robinson found that the University of Illinois, where her brother was a student, had an actuarial program, she  “decided to go for it.” After graduating, she began her career with CNA Financial Corp. as an actuarial analyst. She later worked at St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. and in 2008 moved to Zurich North America, where she is responsible for pricing commercial and specialty lines insurance business.

Colleen Zitt, chief risk officer at Zurich, described Ms. Robinson as someone who exudes warmth and is a mentor to other women. “She puts herself out there in a way that’s relatable to others,” she said. “She always tries to make people feel as if they belong and is supportive of people new to the organization.”

Things came full circle for Ms. Robinson when she met Marsha Bera-Morris — the woman pictured in the brochure — while attending her first meeting with the International Association of Black Actuaries. “I told her my story and she was quite overwhelmed. She was so gracious, kind and inspirational.”

Ms. Robinson is currently a board member and a past-president of the IABA, and a member of the board of trustees for the Actuarial Foundation.

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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.