I spend a lot of time thinking about change these days. This is perhaps as a result of moving every eighteen months or so, growing up the daughter of a career Air Force officer. Secondly, my job requires it. As even a casual reader of the news knows, the health insurance industry is in the midst of massive change. While much of this change is regulatory-driven, many of the changes would be happening regardless of the legal environment.

Of course, change is certainly not unique to the health insurance industry. Today, the speed of information and technology advancements are creating exponential change globally. Now, more than ever, companies need nimble leaders who effectively capitalize on change. As women leaders, I believe we can thrive in this fast-changing business environment by utilizing diversity.

Business change requires companies and people to look at business problems in new ways. I’ve been fortunate to learn through my mentors and career experiences that diversity makes this much easier to do. I’ve found that people with different backgrounds and experiences look uniquely at business issues. Having various viewpoints increases the likelihood of arriving at innovative business solutions. Diversity fuels innovation; we must embrace it and think of the concept broadly.

The first thing that often comes to mind when we think of diversity is gender and race. While those aspects of diversity are important to company success, I’ve found personal experiences, tenure in the organization, thinking styles, personality types, and functional backgrounds are equally important in diverse thought.

As leaders, we are responsible for navigating change by taking ownership for building diverse teams and collecting input widely. We are also accountable for creating an environment where diverse ideas can be comfortably shared and discussed.

Finally, a piece of producing change is fostering future leaders. I have been very lucky in my career to have some amazing mentors who have invested in me. I am honored to be in a position to invest in others while learning from them at the same time.

What does it take to succeed and stay competitive in your position/field?

Staying competitive requires continual learning as well as a vigilant focus on building and maintaining a talented, dynamic team.

Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?

My grandmother profoundly impacted my life. She was a brilliant woman but didn’t have the career opportunities that women have today. That frustrated her, and she wanted better for me. From a very young age, she made me believe that I could be anything I wanted to be. She also stressed the importance of education, which motivated me to pursue an advanced degree.

What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?

Seek opportunities out. You are in charge of your own development. Continually strive to improve your skills and increase your level of responsibility.