When not running the technology that supports commercial lines at The Hartford ($188.7 billion in assets) and executing her duties as a board member of IASA, Mary Francis, vice president of business insurance IT, is likely to be cooking.
Currently working on her plans to visit a cooking school in Italy, Francis has been eagerly attending cooking classes for about 20 years. "I started off doing bits and bites in local adult education programs, etc., then I found a woman who was running a cooking school in France and went to her classes about 10 years [ago]," she admits. From then on, she was dedicated to seeking further opportunities to learn new techniques and cuisines.
Francis describes her interest in cooking as a hobby. "Sometimes it's more just an evening out and getting to know new people," she says. But she also concedes that she has become a highly competent cook. "I have a sense for whether it's going to come out well, just looking at a recipe and knowing what things will mesh," she says.
Part of that she owes to the lessons, but part comes from the instincts that serve her well in her career. Francis argues: "Being able to size up the situation here, saying, 'This is going to work,' and not being afraid to try something new and see how well it works-I think that's what IT is all about."