Ann Nelson has served as EVP, Corporate and Public Affairs, of Employers Holdings Inc. since February 2007. Previously, she was General Counsel of Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, as well as EVP of Government Affairs and EVP of Strategy and Corporate Affairs. Ann also served as Legal Counsel to Nevada Governor Bob Miller and Deputy District Attorney in the Washoe County District Attorney's Office (Reno, Nev.).
INN: What challenges have you faced as a woman in insurance, and how have you overcome them?
I think the challenges faced by women in business everywhere are universal. Juggling professional lives with family lives can be difficult. I never feel as if I have completed anything, as there is always more to do — either at the office or at home — at the end of the day. Working as a partner with my husband and with colleagues, both male and female, who are struggling with the same balancing act has helped me learn to prioritize and get accomplished what is needed to succeed.
INN: Are there any women you look up to when it comes to succeeding in business? Who inspires you?
My very first boss as a lawyer was a female district attorney. She ran her office in a way that allowed deputy district attorneys to deal with both family and court obligations. She taught me that flexibility can be a strength in the professional world, but that one must always get the job done, and get it done well in order to succeed.
INN: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
I believe that great ideas should come from everyone in the organization. At EMPLOYERS, our experienced executive team is very involved in making decisions and plotting direction for the company. We often bounce ideas off of each other. But we also depend on and value the opinions of team members from various levels and geographies within the organization. By working together this way, the final answer is often more complete and better than one I would have come up with on my own.
I enjoy connecting with staff from different departments and levels, whether from IT or the sales team in the field, to discuss thoughts they may have to bring value to the organization. We find that sometimes the best ideas and solutions to business challenges come as a result from collaboration across departments.
INN: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
I oversee all Corporate Affairs, which includes marketing, public affairs and community affairs. With a 100 year legacy, EMPLOYERS is a rapidly growing and changing company, and I am proud to have played a key role in shaping its operations. For example, during my tenure, EMPLOYERS has been transformed from a state fund operating in one state to a publicly traded company operating in 31 jurisdictions.
I have also been deeply involved in shaping the workers’ compensation insurance industry overall, especially in terms of how states think about evolving their state funds. My experience in the privatization of state funds and leadership in workers' compensation reform and external public policy have allowed me to help make an impact on the industry as a whole.
INN: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I am passionate about mentoring and advising colleagues at EMPLOYERS, particularly up and coming female officers and staff, to help them achieve their professional and personal growth goals.
I am personally dedicated to advancing women in business and make efforts to serve as a counselor to my colleagues, regularly inviting them for informal chats on their progress and career aspirations. I always try to make the time to offer guidance and take genuine personal interest in helping others to succeed.
Outside of work, I try to volunteer a lot in my community. I am a board member of the American Heart Association (Northern Nevada); former Chair of AHA’s Go Red for Women luncheon in Reno; a former board member of Nevada Women’s Fund; and President of the Carson Tigersharks swim team board of directors.
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