I made my biggest career move several years ago when the CEO casually mentioned to a consultant that I would be valuable in the chief underwriting job, which also included the areas of Small Group and Individual Sales. Having held all sorts of accounting roles during my 17 year career, making the move to Underwriting and reporting directly to the Sales & Marketing division took me completely out of my comfort zone. In hardly any time at all, that job became even more challenging, when healthcare reform mandated underwriting elimination. However, that single decision led to roles of greater responsibility in the company, including my current positions as the CEO’s chief of staff and chief diversity officer.

Along the way, in both my current and former positions with Medical Mutual, I acquired a number of self-awareness talents. To my surprise, I gained a better understanding of me, as well as my skills, values, interests, behavior, and character. I also gained self- confidence and a firmer belief in my abilities.

Back in my accounting days, I knew the financial side of the company inside and out—where we made money and how our costs were structured. It was quite intimidating to take over an underwriting department where everyone was exceedingly experienced. Even more daunting, was the fact that I was the outsider in a very close-knit department.

I went about honing my listening skills, setting aside my own agenda, and empathetically and deliberately allowed others to be heard. I also learned the art of taking networking to the next level, forming a well-developed circle of influence that fuels enthusiasm in a subject or a cause. The end result is a synergy that inspires others to achieve excellence.

On Facing Challenges
My biggest career challenge has been healthcare reform. It is a huge driver of our company’s strategic decisions, which often means long hours and endless high-level meetings. There are ongoing discussions regarding how we will run the organization. There are significant government mandates that have impacted our customers, and we are making sure we get all of it right.

Steffany’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Handling the responsibilities of being a working professional can be challenging, but I think the best thing you can do is to learn to manage priorities. You have to decide when to put your family first and your career second. You also have to remember to take care of yourself—to exercise regularly and eat sensibly.