Priya Huskins discusses mentoring

Priya Huskins draws on guidance from her own mentor to offer leadership to young women coming into her firm

Priya Huskins discusses mentoring

Diversity & Inclusion

By Lucy Saddleton

The path to a career in insurance is not always a straight road. This was the case for Priya Huskins, partner and senior VP at San Francisco-based brokerage, Woodruff Sawyer, who started out as a corporate securities attorney before shifting gears to the world of insurance in 2003.

“It was a huge leap of faith,” said Huskins, who attributes her successful career-switch in part to the support of her recruiter and role model, Denise Amantea who was and still is a partner at Woodruff Sawyer. Amantea had travelled a similar path to Huskins, having been one of the first female partners at Palo Alto, CA-based Wilson Sonsini where Huskins had also worked, before making the leap from law to insurance, so the mentorship was a natural fit.

With Amantea’s guidance, Huskins was able to leverage her expertise in corporate governance and apply it to her new career in insurance where she specialises in director and officer liability risk and its mitigation.

Huskins had very young children when she started at Woodruff Sawyer, so Amantea took on the bulk of the challenging business travel, thus enabling Huskins to grow in her role at the firm, whilst balancing her responsibilities as a mother.

“It was an amazing gift she gave me,” said Huskins, who feels strongly about offering leadership to young women coming into the firm using the template that she learnt from Amantea.

“She challenged me to pick up the mantle of making sure we are mentoring women, and I’ve taken that very seriously,” said Huskins. “Our firm is a model for what can happen when we all care about making sure women have professional opportunities.”

Being a woman in insurance has its advantages, according to Huskins, who finds that male clients are often more willing to ask questions in a way that they may not if there is a dominance battle with another man.

“I relish the ability to have clients trust me enough to ask questions that are really bothering them so I can address their needs and issues,” she said.

Huskins’ accolades include serving on the board of directors at Realty Income Corp. and at Woodruff Sawyer, and she is a published expert and frequent speaker on corporate governance and D&O insurance issues.

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