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STAN BERNARD Assistant vice president, commercial officer

CNA Financial Corp.

Timonium, Maryland

After starting out in commercial banking as an analyst after graduating from Rutgers University, Stan Bernard was invited to join the insurance industry in 2008 just as the economy — and the financial services sector — was spiraling into a recession. It was a great segue, he said, as his first role had him specializing in insurance for financial institutions.

What is the biggest challenge of working through the pandemic?

I find the biggest challenge is balancing homeschooling, day care and work. My wife and I came up with a process that works, but the two little co-workers at home make it interesting.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

Be intentional and focused on continuous improvement through structural learning, learning on the job, networking, mentorship and sponsorship.

What should the industry do to attract more young people to work in it?

Meet young people where they are. Stay engaged on university campuses and social media platforms. This connection gives the industry an opportunity to tell our story — how we help lives and businesses.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I have known my wife since middle school. We grew up in the same town — Maplewood, New Jersey.

What do you know now that you wish you knew at 18?

Failure is inevitable, and it’s OK to fail as long as you learn from it. When I was 18, sports was a big part of my life. I was very competitive, and I didn’t take failure well. I’ve learned that failure isn’t fatal.

All-time favorite movie?

I really enjoy thrillers and sci-fi, and Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favorite actors, so I would have to say “Inception.”

What is your favorite meal?

Seafood pasta.

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