Diane Higdon is the Product Administration Manager for Policy Filings and Assistant Corporate Secretary for American Health and Life Insurance and Triton Insurance Companies, part of OneMain Solutions. She is well worthy of such a long title and manages the company filings in 45 states. Higdon became a member of AICP in 1991, when the organization was known as the Society of State Filers and limited membership to P & C lines members. As part of the business that provides credit insurance, her company provided both P & C coverage as well as L & H coverage. While the P &C side was not dominant, she joined as a P & C carrier. Understanding that knowing more about regulation and regulators was beneficial, Diane became a member and was part of the financial and membership re-organization which ultimately resulted in the current AICP. She has held every position in the South Central Chapter and on the AICP Board, except Treasurer.
Guiding Star: In a world where you can be anything, be kind. It’s a phrase used a lot in Yoga and has been important to me my whole life. It is important to me to be just as nice to our cleaning staff as I am to the President.
How Did You Fall into Insurance? Like everyone else, I needed a job. I was just married, and we needed to be working in the same geographic area because we only had one car. The economy was in the tank, gas lines were rampant and almost any job, was what we needed. My husband at the time worked for Dr. Pepper in Fort Worth and he would go in early so we could drive together. I started as a file clerk, doing the Dailies (let’s see how many people remember what that was!) and ultimately was promoted to the Assistant for Filings. My new boss quit three weeks into the new job. One of the Executives shared that if I could keep my nose clean and my head above water, the job was mine. I worked hard, learned the business, made the contacts I needed to make and made it my business to exceed at every turn. That is, until I hit the glass ceiling. It’s real. When I stood up for myself, the company provided me a bit more money, which I appreciated, but no other recognition. When a job came along at a competitor, with more money, more respect and the title, I jumped at it. A few years later my first company called to offer me what they hadn’t before. It was a tough decision. My boss saw something was troubling me and I shared with her what was going on. She asked for an opportunity to touch base with leadership and in only a couple of hours proposed a career path for me. That made my choice to stay, easy.
What Does AICP Mean to You? It’s the networking. Our business is so personal. The educational opportunities are great and serve us well, but the opportunity to get to know people in the industry, my peers, regulators from across the country and to make a connection with everyone is what differentiates AICP from other organizations. Occasionally, you run into someone who recites chapter and verse, but most of the time people want to help. When you are dealing with an issue, people want the real skinny, not just the legal justification. With personal contacts, you can make that happen, as opposed to documenting a file with the back and forth via e-mail or letter. Don’t’ get me wrong, I don’t want to discount the education programs. I still get golden nuggets from the sessions. The added value is the people. We work in a small world – getting to know people helps make it go ‘round easier.
Who is Your Mentor? Diana Cook taught me to always look at your work, or something you are reviewing, a second time. Don’t just meet expectations; you will see things to make it better with another look. She also taught me when providing reviews – personnel reviews –take that opportunity to really say something meaningful, not to just provide the review. We spend a lot of time working together, return the favor in a personal way. You can do this every day – drop a personal note, send a thank you, let them know you appreciate them and their efforts. Our staff is our greatest asset, let them know it.
Most Important Life Lesson, So Far: I think two things. First, corporate decisions aren’t personal. I’ve been through a few corporate take-overs, sales and reorganizations. It is important to build your personal resiliency. While it may look bad now, find what you can to make it work. If you can’t find something, go somewhere else. I guess that leads to the second lesson. Know and have faith in yourself. I know I can do it. Even so, we all need others to help us get through life and succeed, but don’t sell yourself short. I appreciate all the people who gave me a chance, who took a risk and gave me an opportunity to prove I could do it. Thank you to all my friends and associates who allowed me to progress. Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward and provide that help and support to others.
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