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JENNIFER KASTENHOLZ Vice president, strategy and operational performance

Gallagher Bassett Services Inc.

Rolling Meadows, Illinois

After completing graduate school at the University of Chicago, Jennifer Kastenholz took a consulting job before joining Gallagher Bassett Services, where she impressed senior leadership with her ability to solve problems, conquer operational challenges and set strategy. She and her husband call Chicago home and are avid volunteers who deliver food to homebound seniors.

What is the biggest challenge of working through the pandemic?

We’re asking a lot of people right now: to work, caregive, maintain their own well-being. The opportunity I hope that comes out of this is to rethink workplace flexibility. If somebody needs two hours to support their child with their homework that day, we just need to adjust as a team.

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

For any task that you’re given, no matter how big or small, master it. That means knowing every detail, anticipating questions and ... becoming the go-to person for that task. In my experience, this is what gets you into the room where it happens.

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

I would say to my 18-year-old self that everything is going to work out just fine.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

There’s a viewpoint that those who work in insurance aren’t really risk takers. People would find it surprising to know some of the more adventurous things I’ve done: waterfall rappelling in El Salvador, skydiving in Fiji, camping outside of Petra in Jordan.

All-time favorite movie?

If I had to pick just one, I would pick the movie “WALL-E.” I grew up as a Pixar-generation kid. It’s visually stunning … cute, nostalgic, moving, has purpose, and it does all of that with hardly any dialogue.

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