Words of Wisdom from Women to Watch
The insurance and risk management fields look very different today than they did even 10 years ago; there is much to celebrate, but even more still left to be done. There is no substitute for the wisdom of experience, and the best lessons come from those who have navigated the path successfully. Women to Watch provides unique insight into the women who have conquered the field, and critical perspective for those who will follow. Business Insurance is a publication of Crain Communications Inc. that provides news and information for risk managers, benefits managers, insurers, brokers and other providers of insurance products and services. The publication delivers in-depth analysis on new and emerging risks, case studies of successful programs, market intelligence on trends, and guidance on how to capitalize on opportunities and overcome challenges. Business Insurance covers core risk management and insurance areas such as property/casualty insurance, health insurance, captive insurance and other alternative risk transfer vehicles, and enterprise risk management. Business Insurance is delivered in a multi-media mix, including a bi-weekly print magazine, tablet apps, digital replica, and daily online and mobile news.
Words of Wisdom from Women to Watch
Customer Experience Officer Chief Customer Building the Framework of Steel
I was a little girl who loved to wear tutus and play in the mud with my army figurines. Growing up on military bases around the world, I was encouraged to be strong. All of my authority figures were strong. From my dad, who was in charge, to the Military Police who surrounded us every day, to my mother who packed up our lives every 18 to 36 months and moved us across the world. They were mentally and physically strong.
In addition to that military influence, my father was an attorney and my mother was a teacher; coupled with an outstanding vocabulary, I learned to joust effortlessly at the dinner table. Having strong opinions that you could back up with facts was a requirement. I was encouraged to participate in the discussions with the adults; a children's table did not exist.
My mother's favorite story to tell about me is when she picked me up from on my first day at Montessori school. Apparently, the directress (Montessori's version of a principal) approached her at pickup time. My mother's recollection of the conversation is as follows:
Directress: "Are you Ingrid's mom?"
Mom: "I am."
Directress: "Well, apparently, I don't need to be here any longer, as your daughter is definitely in charge."
Mom: "Why? What did she do?"
Directress: "Because she's telling everyone what to do and everyone is listening to her."
I was 18 months old.
They pushed me. They celebrated my accomplishments. They expected me to do well. I remember being in fifth grade. I was the only girl who sat in the "smart kids" row in our math class. My teacher, Ms. Andrade, would keep me after class and encourage me to raise my hand, to speak my mind. She told me that I had to be smart and strong.
I remember working my way through advanced placement classes in high school and being one of the only girls there. Girls were dropping like flies. It wasn't cool to be smart. I kept on.
When I was 14, my world was rocked. My parents got divorced, and because we needed the money, I started answering phones at a salon and making appointments. I worked there almost every day after school until they closed at 9 P.M. Then I'd have to go home and do my homework, which taught me about a whole new type of strength.
Through college I worked multiple jobs, including managing large retail stores. I learned how to balance classes and life and run a business. I led some of the most successful branches of several national retailers. Despite all the successes, there were lessons about strength there, too. I'll never forget the day that a district manager walked into our store, after a double-digit increase in sales year over year, and the only thing she had to say to me was that my skirt was too short. I was 20 years old. I began to dress differently, and I was angry about it. It was the first time I had run into someone asking me to change because I didn't fit their expectation about how I should look or act.
When I walked into Corporate America at 24, I was a strong, confident, intelligent woman who didn't understand hierarchy. I understood that rules were important for order, but I didn't have any fear when it came to pointing out what could be done better.
My first Corporate America role was as a trading agent in a contact center that placed trades for 401(k)s. Six weeks into that job, I found myself standing in the chief information officer's office one night telling him about all the changes I thought we should make to our platform. I laid out all my points, with supporting facts and solutions. He asked me who I was, but he didn't tell me that, according to the rules, I wasn't supposed to be bringing these recommendations dire