The daughter of an NFL player and herself the member of an NCAA championship basketball team, Gay leads seven business units at OneAmerica. Under her guidance, the creative design team experienced a 25 percent reduction in project completion time, which adds up considering the group produces more than 5,000 print and digital projects annually.
Rising up: On her University of Connecticut diploma, her major is stated as English. But “my major was pretty much basketball and life lessons,” Gay said. Basketball gave her the opportunity to connect with influential people, which led to two post-graduation opportunities, one at a casino and the other in insurance. While both, she said, involved good money management/poor money management, she found the choice easy. “I’m not really interested in casino life.” Before joining OneAmerica, she worked with Phoenix Home Life, Morgan Stanley and MassMutual Financial Group—including a 2-1/2-year stint as a stay-at-home-mom.
Inspirational moment: “Walking with our current CEO after a dinner with a vendor, he said to me, ‘Don’t stand in anyone’s shadow.’ This single statement reminded me that standing tall, strong and confident is my leadership responsibility—even when a little shade from the sun is sometimes desired.” Leadership, she added, “requires vulnerability, authenticity and the constant pursuit of trusted relationships that will challenge you to grow in more effective ways and deliver even greater impact to the world around you.”
Mentors: Karin Sarratt (new head of human resources at OneAmerica) “is authentic and exuberant—a bold type of leader.” Kelly Huntington, vice president of enterprise strategies, “is a process-driven leader who really sees the end game.” Pat Foley, OneAmerica’s president of individual insurance and retirement services, “is steeped in industry knowledge.” Together, she said, “they bring different things to me, force some humble pie on me, encourage me, and have been strong supporters.”
Givebacks: Gay serves on the board for Integrated Women Leaders and has coached youth girls basketball for 20 years. “I don’t just teach ball IQ,” she said. “It’s about helping them believe in themselves—to have confidence in themselves on and off the court.”
Inspiring book: “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. “It’s all about vulnerability—making sure you find peace and comfort in who you are. I read it when my father died and I was going through a tough time. My husband had a major health concern and I was very wobbly and I had to be OK with being wobbly, to claim it, and to move forward. I needed to be OK that my world was shaken to the core.”
Favorite place in central Indiana: “Wherever my kids are playing sports.”