The phenomenon of a college degree not exactly matching up with an executive’s career isn’t unusual, but it makes for some interesting origin stories. Dawn Sly-Terpstra, AVP for marketing and customer experience at Grinnell Mutual, for example, is trained as an anthropologist. That came in handy as the company embarked on an ambitious rebranding effort, with her at the lead.

“Anthropology,” she notes, “is the study of culture. Culture is about a shared-belief system. Our shared belief at Grinnell is all about trust and tomorrow—that trust piece has been huge.”

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