St. Clairsville native recognized for her contribution to insurance technology
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Melanie Kolp has come a long way from programming her Commodore 64 computer as a child, but her interest in technology during those early years helped to get her where she is today.
Kolp, a 1991 graduate of St. Clairsville High School and 1995 graduate of Ohio University in Athens, recently was named one of the Women in Leadership: NEXT award winners by Digital Insurance magazine. Kolp is senior vice president and chief information officer of Enterprise Applications at Nationwide. She was among the 10 winning nominees from various companies across the country to receive the honor during a conference held in Chicago.
Kolp is the daughter of Michael and Mary Maistros of St. Clairsville. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 16 years and have three sons, Charlie, 13; Ryan, 11; and Brady, 10. They live in Dublin, Ohio.
Kolp said she has received local awards in the past, but nothing of this level. She joined Nationwide in 2005. Prior to that she worked for American Electric Power and Ernst & Young, an accounting/auditing firm. She started working when she was 16 years old at J.C. Penney at the Ohio Valley Mall. She continued to work there on breaks from college.
At Nationwide, Kolp oversees all the technology enterprise areas including finance, human resources, investments, corporate real estate, aviation and document solutions. While she does not write computer code herself anymore, Kolp must oversee the work done by the 600 employees in her department.
Kolp said she developed an interest in technology early on. As a child her parents bought her a Commodore 64 computer. They also fostered her interests in other subjects and fields, but she decided technology was her favorite. She pursued and received degrees in management of information systems and business management at OU.
“I always knew what I wanted to do. … I enjoyed it; there was no reason to pick something else,” she said.
While she was in primary school there was no formal STEM education like there is today. However, Kolp said her parents helped support her interests in science, technology, engineering and math.
“They fostered what I had an interest in. … They would make sure that it happened. They gave me the opportunity to explore something I wanted to do,” she said.
Kolp said while her own sons have more exposure to STEM teachings in school, she and her husband also foster their sons’ interests at home.
“I’ve got two interested in the stock market . … They come to work with me to see what goes on. It’s been fun,” she said.
Kolp noted her work-life balance is more like a scale: some days it tips more toward work, while other days it tips more toward her family. For example, sometimes she must make overnight trips for work and won’t see her family for a couple days. Other times she will forgo a work-related event or dinner for important family events or milestones. For example, she recently did not attend a work-related dinner so she could attend her son’s first middle school basketball game.
Having help from family and friends helps, too.
“My husband and I are true partners. He has a career, too. … We also have a nanny, friends who carpool. … I don’t always lean into work. … I have to lean into family as well,” she said.
Kolp said having a mentor at Nationwide has helped her as well. When she wasn’t sure about taking a previous position within the company, her mentor, Susan Gueli, convinced her otherwise.
“She is very good at making sure I’m not selling myself short. She is good at pushing,” Kolp said.
To kick off its first Women in Leadership: NEXT awards, Digital Insurance asked senior insurance executives across the country to nominate leaders at their organizations “who have the confidence of their organizations” and “will be able to steward the company through insurance’s evolution.”
“NEXT honorees are at the outset of a journey that is equal parts uncertain and exciting: a path that they will forge in part by drawing on both the wisdom and insitutional knowledge of WIL trailblazers and on their own instincts. We’ll have find out what these exceptional young people think of the industry’s potential as they operationalize it over their careers,” the magazine states.
Kolp added technology is a great field for students to get into as there are many job opportunities available.
“I would encourage kids to look into the options. … The world is going that way. The more we have the better,” she said.