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2019 Women to Watch: Heather Matthews

Heather Matthews
Senior vice president, national claims management center
Crawford Co.
Kitchener, Ontario
Age: 56

Like many in insurance, Heather Matthews “completely fell into the industry.” She had planned on a career in law enforcement, and studied criminology through a joint program between Conestoga College and Carlton University in Ontario, but that changed when she realized she wouldn’t pass the physical because of her eyesight.

Her career took a turn when she attended a seminar. “I met a claims manager and I was curious about what he did,” Ms. Matthews said. “He invited me to come by and I ended up with a summer job there. Then they offered me a full-time job.”

That was at Canadian insurer Waterloo Insurance, later Economical Insurance. She joined Crawford Co. in 1987.

Ms. Matthews’ law enforcement training did not go to waste. “My base of criminology overlays nicely with investigative techniques and the law of torts in contracts, so there were a lot of transferable skills,” Ms. Matthews said.

In her position as senior vice president, national claims management center at Crawford, Ms. Matthews oversees personal lines and commercial insurance, human risk — disability and workers comp. The company seeks to provide uniform services and data to organizations that operate in the U.S. and Canada.

Its call center operates 24/7 “but gets very busy during hurricane season,” she said. “Part of what we do is to help restore lives — and that’s huge. I started as an adjuster, so I know what it’s like to go to a fire or a fatality incident.”

Ms. Matthews also serves as a member of the executive advisory board for MyAbilities Technology Inc., a safety technology company.

Reed Hanoun, president and chief executive officer of MyAbilities, said Ms. Matthews “has been a trusted adviser for us on the technology and innovation side. We come up with ideas and solutions, and she helps us validate them and make sure that we are addressing the market ne effectively.”

Promoting women in the workplace comes naturally for Ms. Matthews “because my mother, who is now 83, was an incredibly strong role model,” she said. “She instilled independence in me. In a different age, my mother would have been the CEO of a company.”

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