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2018 Women to Watch: Kelley Bernal

Kelley Bernal
Senior vice president and director of underwriting
SIU LLC, a unit of Alliant Insurance Services Inc.
Glendale, California
Age: 39

Kelley Bernal’s Mexican-born father, an accountant who died of kidney disease at age 38, when Ms. Bernal was 8, “was a huge inspiration for me even though I lost him at such a young age,” she said. “It was just always something in my makeup, to be better and accomplish the most that I can for my family.”

Ms. Bernal grew up in San Diego and went to the University of San Diego, where she initially followed family tradition and declared herself an accounting major. “I realized very soon after that, that accounting wasn’t my passion,” she said. “I actually double-majored in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing and communications.”

Ms. Bernal said “my 20-year-old self ” thought she wanted to go into marketing for the entertainment industry. As it turned out, an on-campus interview “is how I ended up in the insurance industry.”

A General Re Corp. training program led to a position as a property facultative underwriter. But that was high-level excess business, and “I wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty a little bit,” she said.

After holding other positions, Ms. Bernal became senior vice president of SIU LLC, a unit of Alliant Insurance services Inc., in March and oversees its difference-in-conditions earthquake operations.

In 2005, Ms. Bernal co-founded Emerging Insurance Professionals, an industry group for those with less than 10 years of industry experience. Its purpose “was really to create relationships within the insurance industry,” she said.

In 2017, she graduated from the Multicultural Women’s Executive Leadership Program, an independent program hosted by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business focused on helping women in mid- to senior-level management positions develop leadership skills. She is now an adviser to the program.

Ms. Bernal married her college sweetheart and has a 10-year-old son.

“I think she’s fantastic,” said Sean McConlogue, president of Alliant Specialty Insurance Services, to whom Ms. Bernal reports. She is engaged, a good leader and puts people first, he said. “We think she’s long for the business and long for a relationship with us,” he said.

NEXT: Nancy Bewlay
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