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Senior Director, Risk Management
With more than 20 years of experience, Carol F. Arendall was given the lofty task of creating a risk management plan for OfficeMax Inc. when she was hired by the office supplies company in 2005. Two years later, she leads a team of risk management professionals for a business that employs 36,000 people worldwide. She built her department from scratch using skills and expertise acquired while in the risk management department for Saks Inc., which purchased Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in the 1990s. She began her career at Carson's in 1985 while answering a newspaper employment ad, never intending to work in the risk management field. Ms. Arendall was featured in Business Insurance's 2007 Risk Management Honor Roll.
What would you change: "There are a lot of women working in the insurance industry, many of them on the claims side as adjusters. I would like to see the insurance claims industry become leaders in family-friendly work policies. With the tremendous turnover you see with claims adjusters, making that job family-friendly would reduce turnover and be a win-win for all employees."
Professional role model: "My role model was Anne C. Roberts, at the time the director of risk management at Carson Pirie Scott, now a broker with Marsh. She hired me right after I graduated from college and gave me a chance to learn and grow. I still make decisions based on the analytical tools she helped me develop."
Advice to young women: "Work at a quality company that gives you opportunities for growth and development. Be a team player and a good listener. After you establish yourself professionally, be willing to give back and mentor and guide young professionals coming in behind you."
Chief Diversity Officer
American International Group Inc.
New York, N.Y.
Terri D. Austin, a graduate of both Columbia University's School of Law and School of Journalism, joined New York-based American International Group Inc. as assistant general counsel in 1990. From 1995 to 2004 she served as senior vp and general counsel at AIG Domestic Claims before being named chief compliance officer for AIG's Domestic Brokerage Group. She was appointed to the newly
created position of chief diversity officer in January.
Advice to young women: "I have definitely been told on more than one occasion, 'That's not going to work,' and while that particular iteration for an idea might not have worked, I continue to work on ideas and projects and initiatives until it gets implemented, and I think if you listen to the naysayers, you can sometimes become disillusioned and stalled, frankly, and I think you have to have confidence in yourself to know it is a good idea and it will work as long as you work at it. So, never take no for an answer."
Professional role model: "My very first role model was my mom. She was one of the most giving people I've ever known.... She was my original inspiration and continues to be to this day. She passed 10 years ago, but there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her as the type of woman she was and the type of giving she did. It really was inspirational."
Early aspirations: "I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up and I did become lawyer when I grew up and no, I did not intend to enter this field. The irony is my mother worked in diversity. Subsequent to her nursing career, she was one of the very first diversity leaders ever and she did diversity before diversity was a buzz word in corporate America.... I remember thinking diversity was a touchy-feely field. While diversity may involve sensitive issues, these are important topics that must be addressed."
Director of Health and Insurance Programs
Honeywell International Inc.
Dahna Baisley is responsible for managing Honeywell International's health care budget and programs, identifying potential health problems in the employee population, creating and implementing targeted solutions and facilitating access to health care information so that employees can make good health care decisions. She also manages other benefits such as life and disability insurance. She is a member of the National Business Group on Health's obesity, consumer-directed health care and health care cost solutions groups, seeking ways to provide higher quality health care at affordable prices.
Advice to young women: "You have to be patient. There's a lot to learn. (Health care is) a very technical field and it's ever-changing. Get yourself to a place where you are going to be exposed to a lot of different things and be able to learn."
Professional role model: "I always thought my grandma for her generation was amazing because she ended up being a vp for a bank. She really inspired me that I could go as far as I want."
Position of women in industry: "I feel like you're starting to see more women in higher profile positions. I still don't think it's the norm. I think that women are on the move to make an impact, but I still think we have farther to go. Personally, for me it's inspiring when you see someone who's made it."
Aon Risk Services
As deputy leader and executive vp of Aon Corp.'s brokerage group, Cynthia Beveridge focuses on products, industry practices and capabilities within Aon Risk Services. Ms. Beveridge, who is known as a relationship builder and program innovator, also is lauded by colleagues for her expertise in directors and officers insurance solutions and placements. Prior to her current role, Ms. Beveridge served in various leadership positions at Aon, beginning as a sales and senior team leader in Aon Financial Services Group and moving up to eastern division head for service management relationship management.
Early aspirations: "I wanted to be an Olympian, somehow involved in the French culture and do something with physics, but I just couldn't put that combination together. So, intrigued by the international insurance brokerage firm of (Alexander & Alexander Services Inc.), I began my career in New York City as a management liability broker dealing with all industries--financial and legal concerns with C-level contacts, the best platform to create my next step."
Advice to young women: "Be technical, continue to learn, take opportunities outside of your comfort zone and build a network."
What would you change: "Eliminate state regulation, while ensuring the governing body fosters a fair and level playing field."
As senior actuary at Milliman Inc., Raji Bhagavatula has acted as lead consultant on mergers and acquisitions transactions, including the acquisition of GE Insurance Solutions by Swiss Re, which was completed in June 2006. She is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. She is currently the chairperson of the AAA Actuarial Standards Board Subcommittee on Reserving and a member of the AAA Mass Tort Subcommittee.
Best professional advice: "Two pieces of advice that have served me well are: Knowledge can get you to a certain level; you need common sense to go higher. Second, if the results of your actions are disastrous it does not mean that the path you have taken is wrong. Chance plays a big role and sometimes you win and other times you lose. You need to learn not to overly rejoice when you win and get overly depressed when you lose."
Professional role model: "Dr. Gottfried Berger, who established Cologne Re's U.S. subsidiary, was an early role model. A brilliant man, he constantly challenged me to be a better actuary. Since then, I have had the good fortune to know many accomplished leaders in the insurance industry who have clearly shaped my thinking and abilities."
Advice to young women: "Pay attention to the faster growing nontraditional areas within your field and develop expertise in those areas. The insurance sector is experiencing rapid growth outside the U.S., so think globally."
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