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Vicki Villarreal

Risk Management and Insurance: Women Leaders

by Vicki Villarreal, Class of 2018 Friday, June 29, 2018

As I prepare to enter the financial services field, a field many perceive as male dominated, I find myself thinking about the importance of mentorship in success, especially for people who may perceive themselves as “outsiders.” My experience in the Wisconsin MBA in Risk Management and Insurance has taught me to seek support from dedicated and wise mentors while also encouraging me to strive to become one myself. I have met incredible mentors and especially influential women leaders who inspire me to aim high and set big and bold goals.

When I began my MBA journey at WSB, the first person I met was our program director, Joan Schmit. When we met, she was the kindest and most supportive person. From the beginning, she has acted as my mentor, my best advocate, and my friend. She’s provided me with sage advice and many opportunities to grow. She has taught me to listen to my intuition and to be more courageous and resilient. I feel this is so important for women in business. We all need someone in our corner to help us navigate the road ahead, so we’re ready when an opportunity comes.

During the second-year of MBA as I was preparing to start my career search, Joan connected me with two of our alumni and Advisory Board Members, Christy Kaufman and Andy Nottestad. I have found having multiple mentors with a wide variety of experiences invaluable. Both Andy and Christy have been instrumental mentors throughout my career search. They are both genuinely interested in my professional and personal growth and have generously leveraged their network to help me build my social capital to find the right career opportunity. Most importantly, they have provided me with leadership coaching to muster up the confidence to ‘lean in,’ to speak up when it matters most and to strategically negotiate- All of which will help me throughout my career.

While it is difficult to predict what tomorrow’s business will require from its leadership, the WSB Risk Management and Insurance program has created an environment for emerging women leaders. By developing a collaborative process, where women can talk openly about the challenges they face, where they can seek advice and stand together to question societal norms so that we can effect positive change. More importantly, we are able to learn the lessons of those who forged the path before us so that we can start leading and developing the way for the next generation of women leaders. On Wisconsin!