Mabel Pottinger: Gallagher's first woman professional hire, our foundation

Since the beginning of Gallagher, women have played a critical role in shaping and growing our business. In fact, it all began back in 1933 with Mabel Pottinger, our first female professional hire, who, for more than 41 years, helped shape the company by training succeeding generations of company leaders, including Jim, Bob, John and Pat.


She joined a work environment that was much different than today’s — though The Gallagher Way was in effect even then.


“I started to work for Mr. Gallagher in June of 1933,” wrote Mabel Pottinger in 1975. “Mr. Gallagher was a wonderful employer and did not tolerate mistakes, and that was what made us good.”


That rigor helped her keep things stable stateside as many American men went abroad to fight in World War II. All of the Gallagher men were called up to serve their country, except Arthur J. Gallagher himself, who fell ill with rheumatic fever. Mabel Pottinger and Ed Keating, who couldn’t serve, were left to run the entire business alone. Not only did they keep the business afloat through the war, they expanded it, bringing on new accounts.
Mabel’s leadership extended beyond the business side — she was critical in keeping the Gallagher culture alive for the next generation. In “The Gallagher Way: A Corporate History,” Mabel as one of the company’s most important employees. “She helped shape the company and the succeeding generations of leaders. She left an indelible mark on the company.” 


Gallagher continues to grow from the legacy she helped to start in 1933. Pat Gallagher himself started in the business as a “go-fer” for Mabel in 1966, when he was 14.


“As the true director and trainer of the three Gallagher boys, it’s difficult to express how all of us feel toward you… None of us would be where we are now without your help,” wrote then-CEO Bob Gallagher in a 1974 letter to Mabel.

Why we’re celebrating Women’s History Month

Founded in the U.S. in 1987, Women’s History Month is meant to build on the themes of International Women’s Day, which has been celebrating women and supporting equality since 1911. It has counterparts in several other countries and encourages all of us to remember the women who have worked to make our lives better.


Tenet No. 2 of the Gallagher Way says: “We support one another. We believe in one another. We acknowledge and respect the ability of one another.” By showcasing the incredible things women at Gallagher have already done, we hope to encourage the next generation. Ultimately, everyone should see Gallagher as a place where you can be yourself, grow into leadership and drive an impact.

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