40 Under 40 The Class of 2015

Sarah Williams

Vice President of Global Risk Management, MassMutual Financial Group; Age 37

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams acknowledged that it’s not easy explaining — in layman’s terms, anyway — exactly what she does as vice president of Global Capital Risk for MassMutual.

A brief bio issued by the company puts it this way: “Williams is responsible for leading the assessment and analysis of international capital standards, including field testing for the proposed International Assoc. of Insurance Supervisors Common Framework requirements. She also oversees MassMutual’s enterprise risk appetite analysis and reporting.”

Williams, who came to MassMutual roughly a year ago after a lengthy stint at the Hartford, where she handled a variety of roles, provided an effective translation to that synopsis.

“As a result of the financial crisis, there’s a great deal of change happening with regard to regulation of the financial-services industry,” she said, noting that this includes insurance companies like MassMutual. “My job, and I really enjoy it, involves determining what we should be doing today to strategically position ourselves to continue to be competitive and profitable given all of these new regulations that are coming out.”

This is a job that takes her abroad at least a few times a year — she recently returned from Rome, for example, and has made trips to Switzerland, Canada, and the Netherlands in recent months — and to Washington, D.C. frequently. There is little time for sightseeing, however, she said, adding that this is definitely business travel.

When not assessing risk for MassMutual, Williams is kept busy with work within the community, and also as part of what she called a “football family.”

With regard to the former, she is treasurer and immediate past president of the corporate board for the YMCA of Greater Springfield, and also leads Springfield Youth Cheerleading, an organization devoted to promoting and teaching that activity.

“When my sons were little, my husband ran the youth football program, so I took over the cheerleading program in Springfield,” she said, adding that she cheered herself in high school. “We have about 80 girls in that program every year.”

As for the latter, well, the cheerleading is part of it, but this family also watches and plays the game. Indeed, Williams’ husband, Richard, is offensive-line coach at Springfield’s Central High School, while her sons and stepson all played for Central, and her youngest son is the projected starting quarterback at Monmouth University in New Jersey next season.

— George O’Brien
Photo by Denise Smith Photography