Women in Insurance: A Drive for Discovery

Women in Insurance: A Drive for Discovery

Researching the market and strategizing business development is investigative work that motivates Leah Ohodnicki.

Women in Insurance Leah Ohodnicki

How do you combine a lifelong love of entertainment and production with a dabbling interest in investigation and turn it into a fulfilling career in the insurance industry?

Marketing was the answer for Leah Ohodnicki, SVP, U.S. head of producer management for Argo Group.

“I went to acting school from fourth grade through senior year of high school,” she says. However, the prospect of pursuing it as a career while most likely being broke and hungry wasn’t appealing.

“In college I landed on marketing and advertising because it tied in to that world, especially with commercial productions. Plus, I always thought private investigating would be interesting, and market research is like being a PI.”

Much of the focus of her studies was consumer marketing. When her career began at a small agency, Ohodnicki discovered the opportunities in business-to-business marketing – an area she had previously dismissed.

“I thought it would be boring,” she admits. But then she discovered a secret of B2B: “If you can market the intangible, you are valuable.”

Marketing the value of women in insurance

Ohodnicki works with multiple business units under the Argo Group umbrella to strategize how to create marketing objectives that will help support their growth. The role includes sales training and cultivating relationships with insurance producers.

The latest effort, Ascend With Argo, is a learning and development program that provides information and resources that all insurance professionals can use.

“The people who go to schools with risk management and insurance programs have a leg up knowing what this business is all about,” she says. “And companies used to have huge budgets for training programs.

“We recognize this isn’t a given anymore and that we have the resources to help people grow and excel in their careers.”

While the program mostly benefits early-career producers, regardless of gender, Ohodnicki sees how it can also support the transformation that’s taking place to include more women in insurance.

“I’ve seen a shift in the industry, even just since I’ve started, in the number of female leaders,” she says. “I definitely didn’t know how quickly I was going to be able to grow in this career. The demographic of the industry is changing so quickly; there is a growing demand for talented individuals with years of experience that are similar to mine.”

Mentors, influences and finding your voice

Ohodnicki credits Gary Grose, group producer management and marketing leader for Argo Group, as a mentor who has had a strong influence on her career.

“He has never been one to look at gender as an issue,” she says. “He just wants to know who is going to do the best job.

“I’ve never felt held back, or been given special treatment, by being a woman. At Argo, it’s more about your attitude and working hard. If you’re working for the right employer, you’re going to get that seat at the table.”