"Organizations are increasingly willing to capture the data and hold leaders accountable for making real change," says Beth Riczko, president, property-casualty personal lines, Nationwide. "Data—and the discussion and action it engenders—is the light that can shine into the darkness on these issues."
President, Property-Casualty Personal Lines
Favorite TV Show?
Jeopardy—it's a family event each work night and a great time to hang with whomever is home at the time. I'm constantly impressed by how much my kids know. I guess college paid off!
If you could write a book that was guaranteed to be a best seller, what would you write about?
I've had this idea for a book for a long time: The story of a teenage girl who has the power to grant someone's greatest wish simply by touching her skin. I would want to follow the storyline of the people who have encountered her—and how what we often wish for doesn't fulfill us as much as we think. Concurrently, I would explore her story as a girl who is destined to generously give to others but not to herself.
What drew you to the insurance industry?
Honestly, a job! I was a math major looking for work and just happened to stumble into an actuarial career. But once I was in, I was hooked! Challenging, dynamic work, combined with the fabulous people I've encountered in this industry, has kept me motivated and proud to be part of this industry for over 30 years.
I don't think we get enough credit for the great work this industry does to help people recover from a disastrous loss. And I'm proud to work in an industry that enables people and businesses to take risks and be prosperous.
Biggest lesson you've learned during the COVID-19 era?
I've learned that we are amazingly capable of adapting—personally and professionally. In a matter of days, Nationwide pivoted nearly 100% of associates to work from home—without missing a beat! The decision was made to keep our associates safe, and very quickly we put additional measures in place, such as remote claims handling and video chatting, to keep our customers and partners safe as well.
Associates adapted to working from home, juggling increased family needs and demanding workloads. We strengthened our ability to collaborate remotely and even found creative ways to onboard new associates who still haven't had the opportunity to walk through the doors of a Nationwide building. The list of new experiences is long! None of us knew what to expect but we all learned how to become comfortable with uncertainty.
A year later, the way we operate and do business has evolved and our resiliency to change is greater than ever.
What progress have you seen in gender equity in the insurance industry?
There has been a major shift in the dialogues we are now having. I sense a meaningful change in our willingness to acknowledge we could do better when it comes to equity in its various forms—gender, race, sexual orientation and more. Organizations are increasingly willing to capture the data and hold leaders accountable for making real change. Data—and the discussion and action it engenders—is the light that can shine into the darkness on these issues.
If you could change one thing for women in the industry, what would it be?
My one wish for women is to have us seen first for our strengths rather than our gender. We must start seeing people as unique individuals, deserving of our respect and equitable treatment. We need to celebrate the strengths and diverse experiences each person brings. Through this, the collective efforts of everyone can create lasting value and sustain change. This point of view challenges each of us to be inclusive mentors and sponsors.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.