Education has always been very important in my family. My grandmother attended college to become a teacher in the 1920s. It was unusual for Americans, especially women, to attend college at that time. She then made sure my mother and her sister both graduated from colleges in the 1950s. My father came from a family who had never attended college, but he attended after serving in the Korean conflict via the GI bill and went on to receive a master’s degree. I was raised to believe that I could be whoever I wanted to be, but that education and working hard were the keys to success. My parents encouraged my tremendous curiosity and passion for learning which are still with me today.
Immediately after obtaining my degree in economics, I was hired into the insurance industry as a casualty underwriter and then became a broker. In 1990, I joined Aon. I was promoted several times in my first ten years at the company. I was very busy with work and traveled extensively internationally, but wanted to get my MBA before starting a family.
I decided upon the Executive MBA program at the University of Chicago; Aon sponsored my tuition. The class met on Fridays and Saturdays every other weekend for two years and included four weeks of intensive class work in Chicago and Barcelona. Following the completion of my degree, I led a large account practice in San Francisco and later returned to Chicago.
I have been blessed in having a great education that was largely funded through scholarships and my company’s investment. Now, as the leader of Aon’s Women’s International Network, I share my passion for education with others and support professional learning opportunities for women and others in the insurance and risk management professions. I am a passionate supporter of STEM education because I believe development of my own interest in math especially has been critical to my business career. I have supported two colleagues on my team to attend MBA programs and helped another African American woman to finish her bachelor’s degree while working full-time. I also lead seminars regarding MBAs and balancing education with work and family demands.
I have had the opportunities to fulfill my career and personal aspirations and to be successful in great part to the educational opportunities afforded to me. As leaders, we must work to broaden educational opportunities and access for all. We are in the risk management business but one of the biggest risks facing our firms is a shortage of qualified talent. By bringing in diverse candidates, including women, globally, we can meet that demand, and by investing in and promoting educational opportunity for all, we can create that pipeline of talent for the future.