Senior VP and head of advisory sales and strategic accounts, Allianz Life Insurance Co.

“Never stop learning and take reasonable risks.”

Studying robotics at a community college in Queens, New York, so she could eventually make prostheses for her disabled sister, Heather Kelly needed a job to help her mother support the family. A friend working at an insurance company in Manhattan recommended her for a position assisting an agent with cold calling. That led to increasing responsibilities in the insurance and wealth management businesses over the past 25 years, usually entailing challenges she describes as “pushing big boulders uphill.”

Before joining Allianz early in 2020 to expand its services and products for RIAs, Kelly built the first national RIA insurance platform during her almost eight years at United Capital. Since the earliest stages of her career, Kelly has worked to help women succeed in financial services and was recently the first nationwide recipient of the Young Professional honor awarded by Athena International, an organization dedicated to building a global pipeline of women leaders.

— Evan Cooper