The CEO of San Francisco’s Tangram Insurance Services is a young, first generation Indian American woman, who exudes courage, passion, and vision.
For Rekha Skantharaja Schipper, leadership means not only financial freedom, but the power to drive societal change. Her LinkedIn profile says she aims to “shatter the glass ceiling for women and minorities and mentor the next generation to do the same”- a goal she actively pursues as CEO.
For more women to enjoy the same level of privilege and influence, Skantharaja Schipper says they need to toughen up: “Women don't need more humility, vulnerability, and empathy. I think that's kind of already there,” she told Insurance Business.
While opportunity and timing lined up for Skantharaja Schipper during her more than 17-year career, it was fighting back fear of not being ready that reaped rich rewards.
“I sometimes felt the competence wasn't there, or there was fear of the unknown … sometimes it felt a bit outside of my comfort zone. But just going for it, and having a bit of confidence that the competence and the certainty … would catch up eventually, that I just needed to leap in and go for it” led to her rise, she said.
A track record of delivering results is essential, but women also need to know their worth, said Skantharaja Schipper, who said she significantly raises her salary with each new role, and has negotiated an ownership agreement with Tangaram.
“I would not have gotten to where I am if I wasn't somewhat focused on money and status, [but] if you understand why you're reaching for that and you know that you're worth it … you absolutely have to reach for it in a complete unapologetic way,” she said, adding: “I don't think women in general do that really well.”
“I want more conversations around why you’re worth it and how you negotiate for it. … Try to be assertive in how you jockey for position in that room and represent your capability. Don’t worry about how you’re coming across. It's more about how do you [identify] your value and then uniquely advocate for it relentlessly,” said Skantharaja Schipper.
Skantharaja Schipper’s ambition is reflected in her chosen motto, taken from Ayn Rand bestseller The Fountainhead: “The question isn't who is going to let me. It's who is going to stop me.”
“That about sums it up” for women in insurance, she said.