President and CEO
Tangram Insurance Services
As president and CEO of managing general underwriter Tangram Insurance Services, Rekha Schipper said she’s responsible for “flying the plane, but I have a lot of co-pilots.”
Her career began its takeoff when Ms. Schipper, a new college graduate armed with a major in international relations, began looking for a job in the San Francisco area.
“I really could have done a lot of things in the world” with such an educational background, she said. But one of the first calls back came from a small brokerage that placed directors and officers liability insurance. “I found it really interesting,” she said.
Over the years, she has had a “real diversity of experiences without having to jump around to a lot of companies,” with steady movement through the industry. “While the titles are not as important, progress is important. Staying in the game specifically as a woman is really important,” she said.
Tangram builds and manages insurance programs for social services, construction and energy accounts. Ms. Schipper sees her job as Tangram’s CEO, a position she assumed earlier this year after having been named the company’s president in 2013, as building culture and nurturing it. She said that while the company has grown entirely through organic growth, it is now in a position to consider growing through mergers and acquisitions.
The majority of Tangram’s executive team is female, while a “strong percentage” of the company’s employees are of minority backgrounds, she said.
“Being a first-generation American and being in an industry that traditionally doesn’t have people like me sitting in the seat I’m in” is a point of pride for Ms. Schipper, who is of Sri Lankan descent.
“I think she brings a level of professionalism to the business that you don’t usually see all that often,” said John Tallarida, executive vice president at Tangram parent company Heffernan Insurance Brokers in Menlo Park, California. He added that Ms. Schipper’s “level of clarity, passion and focus — that’s really refreshing.”