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Arch Insurance Group
Amy Flanagan started in the insurance business in 1989 as a trainee at Philadelphia-based CIGNA Corp. where she spent several years as an underwriter before joining Reliance Insurance Group's ceded reinsurance department in 1992, and then working in a similar capacity at Kemper Insurance Co. from 2000. Ms. Flanagan then worked at New York-based intermediary Guy Carpenter & Co. Inc. as a reinsurance broker from 2003 until September 2006, when she joined Arch as a senior vp to manage its ceded reinsurance department.
Greatest influence: "It's difficult to pick just one. I would say I've been fortunate to work directly for many talented insurance/ reinsurance professionals who've acted as mentors and have helped to guide me, and I would say each one of them has greatly influenced where I am today, because each provided me the opportunity and independence to do the job."
Advice to young women: "I would encourage them to get a broad based experience of the industry and then find an area that really is of interest to them, and that they're passionate about, because they'll enjoy their profession that much more."
Early aspirations: "I knew I wanted to be in the business world and actually I interviewed out of college for several commercial banking jobs, but was only offered positions in the retail side of banking, and so this insurance underwriting job seemed like the next best thing."
Executive Vp and Director for the Central West Region
Aon Consulting Inc.
Dedicated to her profession and her community, Michelle Futhey has mastered the art of balancing her passions. Since July 2006, she has served as executive vp and region director for Aon Consulting Inc.'s central west region. Ms. Futhey, who's been with Aon since 1993, now oversees 18 offices and 480 staff, and provides clients with consulting services in a variety of specialty practices including health and benefits, retirement, talent management, communications, executive compensation and global benefits. With a heart for children's causes, Ms. Futhey is an active supporter of child welfare initiatives and is a court-appointed special advocate for the State of Missouri, serving as guardian ad litem for seven children currently under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Social Services.
Greatest influence: "A man by the name of Charlie Ross. He recently retired and we worked together (at Aon Consulting) for about eight years. He was an informal mentor to me and there were a lot of things that I so admired in him. He provided coaching to me and supported me. I think the big thing that he helped me with, as far as my career path, was...to be patient and take the promotion that was suited for me and not just take the first promotion that opened to me."
Best professional advice: "Facts are our friends. Be fair and firm. I think that's always a challenge when making tough decisions. One of my old bosses from 10 years ago said to me after I got my first promotion, 'Mentor and bring others with you.'"
Advice to young women: "One of the most important things in our industry--integrity is everything. Exceed expectations."
Chief Operating Officer
Patricia Hagemann is a Marsh Inc. lifer, joining the firm in 1980 as manager of accounting after graduating from Wagner College in New York. She has progressed through the ranks of the company to her current position as chief operating officer in 2006. She is responsible for overseeing client operations, transactional operations, finance, human resources, legal, information technology and compliance.
Advice to young women: "I generally advise them to continue to reach and be hungry. In other words, don't be reticent" to adjust "the things that are around you. Too often, people stay in one job too long and become unclear about their professional path as a result."
Early aspirations: Ms. Hagemann initially thought she would pursue a career in education because of her natural affinity for children and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. She realized, though, she had skills that could apply to the financial services arena. She joined Marsh a month after graduation, attracted by the ability to utilize her strong mathematical skills and the appeal of the insurance industry.
Role of women in the industry: Women have made great strides in the insurance world although the industry needs to do a better job of helping women with families and minorities continue to progress. "I think the insurance industry is certainly more diverse than ever before. I would like to obviously see (women) continue to progress to the C-suite."
Mercer Health & Benefits L.L.C.
Linda Havlin manages Mercer Health & Benefits L.L.C.'s health care specialty practices, its actuarial and financial group, its regulatory resources group and research efforts. Before joining Mercer 10 years ago, Ms. Havlin worked for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. and the Harvard Community Health Plan. She is a frequent author and speaker on health care strategy. Ms. Havlin said a childhood bout of polio led her to choose health care as a career, when her father "exerted his sheer Irish will" to get his uninsured daughter admitted to a hospital.
Early aspirations: "I wanted to be a psychologist. Actually, a lot of consulting really is trying to understand the motivations and behavior patterns of people you work with and clients, and so it's had some applicability. I don't call myself a clinician, but it has been incredibly helpful in understanding how corporations make decisions. In our business, you ask clients very often to take a risk. You have to understand how to get them there...what's the logic, what's the motivation, how do you make it safe, how do you make it exciting."
Professional role model: "The former president of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Walter McNerney. He was a mentor because he didn't think of it as a job. He was a really conscientious manager. Two things he taught me that I've come to appreciate as strengths: To compartmentalize and focus energy on most pressing issue at moment. Second thing he taught me: Put problems in historical contextual framework--take analytic skills and apply them in a business context. That continual reinforcement of learning how to put a problem in context and understand various points of view to help figure out how to get things solved was an exceptional learning experience."
Best professional advice: "The best advice is to think about where your business is headed--always consider strengths and weaknesses. Out of weaknesses comes the next opportunity."
Vp, Employee Benefits
Hylant Group Inc.
Among the industry's younger leaders and mentors stands Lisa Hawker. As a client and relationship manager at Hylant Group Inc.'s benefits practice, Ms. Hawker is responsible for overall client management, strategic planning, plan design and contribution analysis, program recommendations and implementation, and plan performance. Serving as a benefits liaison for the large-accounts practice within Hylant, she's in charge of providing product and skills training while mentoring new client executives. In addition to her work at Hylant, Ms. Hawker is a speaker for benefits issues for a number of organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Worldwide Employee Benefits Network. In the past two years, Ms. Hawker received one of Hylant's most prestigious annual awards, the Chairman's Club Award for being one of the top five to 10 producers in a company with nearly 300 producers. So far this year, Ms. Hawker has received several nominations for the company's 20 under 40 Award.
Early aspirations: "No one plans to be in the insurance industry. My degree in college is in biology. I was going to be a veterinarian or a biologist. I am a tree-hugger to the core. My husband, whose father was in the business, pushed me into this and I love it. He knew I'd be good at it."
Professional role model: "My father-in-law has been a huge professional role model for me. I worked for him in my first job in the insurance industry. He taught me what it is like to be a professional and a strong technician in your field. He taught be not to get involved in the political or the other negative things that come up in our industry."
What would you change: "I would like to change our reputation, more of the perception of our industry. We often get labeled into this sales role and we lose the professional advisor piece."
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