Women need to advocate for themselves when it comes to pay equity, according to Kathy Kranz, VP and chief financial officer at Denver, Colarado-based Pinnacol Assurance. While Kranz believes that Pinnacol has done an excellent job of addressing pay equity, she feels that this is not the case in all firms.
“Women should be paying more attention to what they are worth,” she said. “That’s an area where I haven’t advocated for myself enough throughout my career.”
Although the gender balance is being addressed on the ground level, Kranz believes there is still some work to do in leadership positions. She noted that delegates at the industry conferences she attends are still approximately 75 per cent male.
“I think there’s a great advantage in diversity of thought,” said Kranz. “Just being able to see other people that look like you in positions you aspire to makes it feel like something you can achieve.”
Succession planning is an important strategy at Pinnacol. In fact, Kranz herself was initially offered her first role at the company by the former CFO, because he hoped to develop her to succeed him on his retirement. She continues to follow that philosophy with her own mentees.
“I’m always looking for people who are hungry for learning and advancement, and looking at what they need to one day succeed me,” she said.
Kranz initially began her career as an accountant, auditing insurance companies at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Chicago, before making the leap to insurance where she found her true calling.
“I liked the application of my skills in that area, and I found that insurance people were nicer, so I chose to stay in insurance,” she said. The practical grounding which Kranz developed from her accountancy days has benefitted her throughout her career.
Kranz worked for a national homebuilder, overseeing property and casualty insurance operations before moving to Pinnacol in 2008 where she made her way rapidly up the ranks to her current role in which she oversees the financial and actuarial operations of the company.
According the Kranz, the insurance industry is facing considerable change in the years ahead.
“It’s incredibly exciting. Having a desire to learn new skills is really going to be key,” she said.