Pamela K. El

Marketing Vice President, State Farm Insurance Cos., Bloomington, Ill.

Pamela K. El is proving to be more than a good neighbor. As marketing vice president at Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Insurance Cos., El has spearheaded a 50-Million Pound Challenge with medical and diet expert Ian Smith, M.D. The national program promoting health, fitness and weight loss among African-Americans aims to reduce the risks of deadly diseases caused by obesity. ?Real leaders find purpose in their work and then work to communicate it throughout their career,? says El. With record participation, she expects the State Farm initiative to be a life-saving intervention for millions of Americans.

After more than 25 years in marketing, she insists on leveraging her expertise to benefit others by raising awareness, championing change and supporting improvement?a daunting undertaking at times. But she finds inspiration in the no-nonsense adage: ?Get over it!? She adds, ?Not taking yourself too seriously is the best way to remain focused on the task at hand.?

Prior to joining State Farm, El was senior vice president at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., where she managed brands such as Marriott, Bank One and US West Communications. El also held positions with data communications company Terabeam Inc., where she oversaw brand management, public relations, advertising and Web development. The savvy marketer attributes much of her career success to a longtime industry mentor, Peter Coughter, who, she says, taught her to capitalize on her uniqueness and to play to her strengths. She, in turn, offers this advice to young professionals: ?Be yourself. Be prepared. Be passionate about what you do or don?t do it.?

El currently chairs the Brand Council at State Farm. She is a member of the Association of National Advertisers Brand Council and board member of the Women?s Leadership Institute of Denver in Colorado. She earned a bachelor?s degree in mass communications at Virginia Commonwealth University and later completed the American Institute for CPCU (Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter)?s Insurance Executive Development Program.