Senior Vice President, Operations & Administrative Services Arch Insurance Group Inc., New York City
Gwendolyn Y. Taylor knows all about leadership. It was instilled in her from childhood. “My mother always said, ‘Excellence is the best deterrent to all barriers of race and gender,’“ says Taylor, senior vice president of operations and administrative services for Arch Insurance Group Inc. Her mother’s love and support drove her to push for more in life. “My mother was always the goal setter. Every time I would have a goal and attain it, she would set the bar even higher. [Doing so] kept me reaching. It kept me stretching myself and taught me to expect the unexpected,” she says.
A mother’s love, plus direction from key players in the insurance industry, spelled success for Taylor. She started her career at BlueCross BlueShield, moved to Aetna and later to AIG, where she met industry leaders like Evan Greenberg, now chairman of ACE Ltd., and Suzanne Whalen, now CEO of Equinox Management Group. “These individuals were strong and thoughtful professionals who afforded me access to all aspects of strategic planning at AIG,” Taylor says. She takes those experiences to the boardroom, to her employees and to anyone looking toward the future.
Her most important job, she says, is to make herself known as a person whom people want to follow. “I am a person who knows my employees and my business. As a leader, I live my business,” she says. Hence, there is nothing that she would ask her employees to do that she herself would not do. “If the mailroom manager and his staff don’t come to work, I’ll go and work with the [other employees] to get it done. No task is too menial. I want people to follow me to leadership, not to follow me,” Taylor says.