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How military lessons help make an effective leader

Sharon Primerano’s U.S. Marine Corps Reserve experience shapes the way she leads her team today.

As AIG celebrates Veterans Day, we highlight Sharon Primerano, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and today leads AIG’s Inland Marine Construction and Equipment Products team.

Sharon recalls that when she told her family she wanted to enter the Marine Corp Reserve, they thought it would be too risky. But Sharon saw it as an opportunity to jumpstart her career and learn new skills. During her service in the 1980s, she rose to the rank of Sergeant and was a member of the second group of women in the Marines to receive field training – all while simultaneously earning a college degree.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” says Sharon, who leads a team of AIG underwriters who provide clients with insurance coverage for construction equipment against damage caused by exposures such as weather, theft, transit, and accidents.

Sharon adds that her military experience continues to shape how she leads at AIG today. Here are three lessons that helped her to be an effective leader:

Do your best work. During bootcamp, Sharon quickly learned to operate at a high level. Her drill sergeants instilled the concept of excellence to every task, from marching to ironing her uniform. In her current role, Sharon sets high expectations for her team, shows appreciation for a job well done and gives guidance as needed. “Getting the most from your team means setting the bar high, while being supportive at the same time. Everything should be done to the best of your ability.”

Encourage teamwork and collaboration. In the military, Sharon realized the value of collaboration, especially when working under pressure. She notes that the strongest teams include members that balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. “In my role, I see myself as a conductor, directing my team to manage themselves while still working together as a team.”

Be grounded. Military drills, such as learning to fit a respirator mask to protect against tear gas, taught Sharon how to remain calm during difficult situations. She brings that same mentality to the workplace. “No matter how hard you try, things can take unexpected turns. I want to be the rock for my team – a calm voice when things don’t go as planned.”

#VeteransDay #AIGVeteran


Sharon Primerano is a retired member of the Marine Corps Reserve. Use of her military rank, job titles and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the United States Marine Corps or the Department of Defense. The views expressed are those of the featured individual and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Marine Corps or the Department of Defense. 

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