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2020 Women to Watch Awards Americas EMEA

Danette Beck National construction practice leader

USI Insurance Services LLC

Valhalla, New York

Being a woman working in the male-dominated construction business has never been an issue for Danette Beck, national construction practice leader at USI Insurance Services LLC. “I’ve always liked standing out,” she said, adding that she’s never been afraid of doing something others consider unique.

And she loves being in construction. “We’re changing skylines, adding schools, building roads and pipelines,” she said.

“It’s a very satisfying feeling, knowing I’ve been able to help a construction company and project owners build things for the communities we serve,” she said.

Ms. Beck is “well regarded and listened to in an industry which is predominantly male — and old male,” said USI CEO Mike Sicard. It’s “really impressive,” he said, to see the way she commands respect.

“She’s earned that respect with a kind of quiet confidence,” with neither bluster nor arrogance, he said. “At the end of the day, people know she’s there to make things better.”

Ms. Beck grew up in Marietta, Georgia. After graduating from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business with a degree in risk management and insurance, she joined Sedgwick James’ large accounts division in Los Angeles, where she was first exposed to the construction industry.

She spent 14 years at Aon PLC and eight at Marsh LLC before being recruited by USI and moving cross country to join the brokerage in 2018. 

Ms. Beck said she is “a firm believer in mentoring young professionals and students.” In one case, she has had a four-year-long mentoring relationship with a student at the University of Georgia she met as a junior who is now in the workforce.

Ms. Beck said she was mentored by her professors and likes to “let the ladder down so others can climb up.” 

Ms. Beck is the immediate past board president of the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles, a tuition-free school that works with children up to five years old.

Her husband, Gavin Beck, who works for R-T Specialty Insurance Services LLC, is also a University of Georgia graduate, which is helpful because on college game days, “we don’t have a house divided,” Ms. Beck said.

The couple have no pets, she said, “although I’m wearing (Gavin) down. I’d love to get a dog.”