Relationships have always mattered to Beth Mercier, VP, Personal Lines at Travelers. She realized this early in her career as an internal auditor at a bank. "One of the things about being an internal auditor, you're obtaining great foundational skills for interacting with more senior people and developing your analytical skills," she says. "Invariably that leads to a job somewhere with someone like you are auditing."

And it did. In 1987 Mercier took a position at Aetna as manager of corporate audit. While moving through the ranks at Aetna, Mercier obtained her MBA, Insurance and Information Systems, from the University of Hartford.

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