Top insurance exec talks brave moves and career blocks

Debbie Williams forged her own destiny when she felt that others wanted to hold her back

Top insurance exec talks brave moves and career blocks

Insurance News


The wisdom of US business tycoon Jack Welch: “Control your destiny or someone else will” could easily apply to insurance executive Debbie Williams.

Williams, who is now the vice president and regional manager of USG Insurance Service’s Minnesota and Michigan offices spoke to Insurance Business about her career trajectory.

Working her way up over 35 years in the industry from receptionist to VP, Williams told Insurance Business: “I’m a firm believer of starting at the bottom and learning at every level.”

“It’s easier to be taken seriously, whether it’s by a female or male, because you’ve earned your stripes,” she said.

Williams joined the insurance industry 1980s, when she says there were very few women and men would go out drinking in the evenings without the women.

But when it came to her career, she says that she had more issues with women than men.

Determined to rise through the ranks, she said that her female managers “were not nice about it”, and tried to keep her down.

“I have had to work harder because I have to prove to a female boss that I can do my job and manage people at the same time,” she said.

When her manager told her that there was no promotional possibility beyond underwriter, she decided to make a move.

Approaching USG, she put to them the idea of opening an office in Minnesota.

“They bought into it. My career took off because they gave me that opportunity,” she said.

Williams, who was honored in the IBA Elite Women list last year now oversees the Illinois office, mentors other offices and maintains her own book of business.

Her advice for women in the industry is to be true to themselves and to have a life: “Don’t try and become someone else to please other people; and slow down enough to enjoy life,” she said.

The motto Williams lives by is simple: “Honesty, integrity, and make every day fun. If you can’t have fun at your work, you’re a miserable person,” said Williams.

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!