|Mabe: Empowering Women Matters|
Fisher alumna Katherine Anne Mabe has worn many hats in her 30-year career at Nationwide. She is president and COO of Nationwide’s subsidiary, Titan Insurance, the country’s third-largest insurer of non-standard auto products.
But there is more to this accomplished Fisher EMBA grad than being among the top echelon of female executives: her community endeavors focus on empowering women. Her service on the national board of the YMCA contributed to her being named an Distinguished Alumnus at Fisher’s 2009 Alumni Awards.
“The YWCA is a key passion of mine—I think their work is terribly important. They’re about empowering women and eliminating racism,” says Mabe.
She also recently joined the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), a Fisher-sponsored nonprofit membership organization for women presidents of companies. While new to the WPO, Mabe nevertheless expressed admiration for the entrepreneurial women who comprise the organization—many of whom have “figured out how to carve out a company and develop it from scratch.”
Mabe has faced her own learning moments, while guiding one of the nation’s largest insurance companies in various operational roles from marketing to head of the company’s Western operations. In 2003, she was vice president of Nationwide’s auto products and pricing area when she decided to reinvest in her education.
“I craved going back to school. I wanted to strengthen my financial acumen,” recalls Mabe, who immediately found application to her work from Fisher’s acclaimed finance and strategy curricula—the course work and application research enabled her to look at business challenges and opportunities more strategically. “I can’t tell you how often I’ve used those skills in evaluating acquisitions and (understanding) how companies merge and asking myself questions about the value that’s being created or destroyed in those transactions. It really was enormously helpful to me,” says Mabe, who particularly benefited from lectures from faculty member Jay Barney, the Chase Chair for Excellence in Corporate Strategy in the Department of Management and Human Resources.
As president of Titan Insurance, Mabe says her business school skills “come into play daily” in assessing potential acquisitions. Knowing the “right” strategic questions to ask is key.
“There are many deals we walked away from because they weren’t accretive; they weren’t the right strategic fit. I really believe the skills I learned at Fisher helped me make the right decisions,” she says.
Looking back fondly of her time at Fisher, Mabe says she looks forward to strengthening connections with her alma mater.
“I love Fisher, I love the people and I love the learning environment. The students graduating from Fisher are going to come into the work world with a great academic background. I would encourage them to leverage their networks while they’re still at Fisher. I have had some students reach out to me and I think it’s great. They would be surprised how willing people are to help and how strong that alumni network is,” she says.
Mabe views the appointment of Fisher’s first woman dean as very promising for the college’s goals to attract more women into the program. Fisher also is a 2009 educational sponsor for the National Association of Women MBAs, another partnership that helps leverage Fisher as a destination college for women. “It sends a message that Fisher is interested in promoting and developing women.”
Mabe also calls the work Fisher is doing in operations management exciting and cutting edge, nurturing the type of skills business school graduates need to work in business today.
“I hope my son, who is a freshman at Ohio State, figures that out and gets into Fisher,” she says wistfully.
Katherine Anne Mabe Interview
Katherine Ann Mabe, Fisher alum and president and COO of Nationwide subsidiary, Titan Insurance, talks about returning to the classroom as a part of the Executive MBA program.