Women Worth Watching 2015
This Oliver Wyman Group CRO Goes the Distance—at Work and in Life
As chief risk officer, Rachel Kirsh oversees the global management of Oliver Wyman Group’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program, which includes identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks; working with the management committee and individual practice group leaders to develop risk mitigation plans; handling crisis management planning and execution; and leading all risk training and communication efforts. She also leads compliance efforts for OWG, working with members of the MMC Compliance team on developing and implementing policies, procedures, systems, and controls that support OWG’s ERM program.
“I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when a mentor suggested it to me,” said Rachel. “I realized that it captured the parts of my prior job in HR that I really loved.”
“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.”
Rachel served as global head of human capital operations for Oliver Wyman Group from 2002 to 2012, and was responsible for developing and managing the global human resources operations function. She was responsible for global payroll and benefits administration, HRIS, global mobility, compliance, global security and safety issues, mergers and acquisitions, and other employment-related issues. Prior to joining the firm, Rachel worked as an employment lawyer.
“I would not change a thing in my career,” said Rachel. “Even the misfires taught me resilience and to not be afraid to admit when something is not working.”
She holds an AB in history from Harvard College and a JD from the College of William & Mary Law School. A dedicated runner, Rachel has completed eight marathons, including Boston, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland.
Education: AB European History, Harvard College; JD Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William and Mary
First Job: Camp counselor
What I’m Reading: A travel book on Peru
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
… confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Don’t worry so much, it will all work out.
Words I live by:
Smile, and they won’t notice your hair. In other words, if you are confident, people will listen, even if you do not have all the answers.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
… I would not change a thing. The misfires taught me resilience and to not be afraid to admit when something is not working.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
… go to Starbucks or some other coffee shop.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
… running a global HR function with only US HR experience. It taught me that if you put your mind to it, you can figure anything out.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
… an asset. I find people attach certain attributes to me because I am female and defying those expectations works to my advantage.
I’ve learned that failure is…
… the best learning experience. If you are afraid to fail, you will not take risks.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
… running, practicing yoga, spending quality time with family and friends.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
… a mentor suggested it to me and I realized that it captured the parts of my prior job in HR that I really loved.