Joan Woodward—President of the Travelers Institute, Executive Vice President of Public Policy, Travelers

Sep 13, 2016 | Uncategorized

Joan WoodwardQ: Tell us a little bit about you.

I have worked in the public and private sectors for 30 years, including 10 years each on Capitol Hill and at Goldman Sachs, and nearly 10 years now at Travelers. I am very fortunate to have had many opportunities for new roles and challenges, which are very important for career advancement. Even when I was not confident that I would succeed in a particular role, just being given the opportunity to take on different challenges was valuable in my learning experience.

As president of the Travelers Institute, our public policy division, I draw upon our industry expertise to engage policymakers, regulators and lawmakers across the country on a variety of important public policy issues.

Q: What are some areas today where you see women entrepreneurs leading the way?

During the past five years, the Travelers Institute has held 50 events around the country, convening owners of small- and mid-sized businesses from different industries, to learn about risk management, business continuity planning, cybersecurity and other topics. It has been encouraging to see many women business owners attend our events to learn how to help protect their operations, or simply to network with our partners at the events, like NAWBO, as well as representatives from local, state and federal agencies.

I am delighted to see women entrepreneurs making strides in a variety of industries, including manufacturing and technology.

Q: How have you led the way in your organization and community in the past year?

We realized there was an opportunity to help organizations prevent and respond to cyber incidents. That’s why we developed a platform around cybersecurity education and awareness. Since 2015, we have held 15 cybersecurity-focused events in cities across the U.S., providing another resource to help businesses understand the best ways for securing their private data and protecting their operations.

Q: In what areas do you hope to see women leading the way next?

I would like to see more women in senior leadership roles in the financial services world, including in insurance and banking. We are seeing a shift, however, with more women attaining higher levels in these industries, and I am hopeful this shift will continue.

Q: Why is a conference like this one for women entrepreneurs critical?

Events such as this conference are very important for providing a venue for women to learn from each other and network among those in their industries and communities. NAWBO is like none other in connecting women in the industries they represent, to share best practices for career and business success. There is nothing like women helping other women become successful.

Q: If women walk away from your presentation with one thing, what do you want it to be?

I expect that our September 20th presentation will arm women with the necessary tools and resources, as well as the confidence, to help them better manage their cybersecurity challenges. I think women will walk away with an understanding of useful steps that they can take immediately to help prepare for and respond to a cyber incident.

Q: Who is one woman from the past or present who inspires you when you think about leading the way, and why?

Many women have inspired me during my career, but especially Suzanne Nora Johnson, the former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, who currently serves on the boards of several companies. Her three-step strategy for career advancement has resonated loudly and continually throughout my journey:

  1. Volunteer for career opportunities.
  2. Ask for career opportunities.
  3. Create your own career opportunities, if volunteering or requesting is unsuccessful.

I have tried each of these strategies to achieve challenging career opportunities for myself. It is very humbling when you attempt to take on a new position at which you are not entirely sure you can be successful, but those experiences develop your skill set and build your confidence for the next big challenge.


View complete conference agenda here.

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