Davida Osei’s journey from focusing on elementary education in college to law school student to deputy general counsel at Allstate Investments has taught her a lot, to say the least.
Growing up in a small town in Ohio, it was a college internship at the Ohio House of Representatives that opened her eyes to more diverse career possibilities. The opportunity started her on the road to Sidley Austin and then Allstate, where she has been for nearly twelve years in various legal capacities.
At Allstate, the Ohio State University grad leads a team of lawyers and support staff that give strategic advice and counsel to the Allstate family of companies on the management of its approximately $61 billion dollar investment portfolio. Her teams’ work consists largely of regulatory advice and counsel and transactional work structuring, negotiating, and closing, complex investment transactions. Her favorite part of the job is bringing people together and empowering them to own their work.
“We are a close-knit team and try live by the philosophy that our careers and our lives should be mutually rewarding, not mutually exclusive,” she says.
Before joining Allstate in 2011, Osei spent five years as a lawyer with Sidley Austin in the international law firm’s insurance and financial services group. There, she honed her skills on corporate work for insurance companies. “The industry has undergone so much change in the last two decades, and it has been an incredibly exciting practice area to be in,” she says. “I was thrilled to find myself working at a world-class law firm, surrounded by accomplished practitioners.”
As she talked with lawyers who had moved to in-house roles, she became increasingly drawn to the opportunity to understand the inner mechanics of a company and to provide advice tailored to its specific business and legal needs. She started her career with Allstate primarily doing investment deal work. Then, she was asked if she was willing to join the insurance operations law team as lead counsel for one of the property and casualty regions.
“It was a new world for me, but when I started the role I had a ton of support from peers, mentors, and a fantastic boss who helped me navigate the change,” she reflects.
Osei moved on to become chief legal counsel for Allstate’s commercial insurance business unit, a broader, more generalist role that gave her the chance to tackle new problems and build her business acumen while working closely with the leadership team. Then, about five years ago, she moved back to investments in a more senior position.
Her current role requires simplifying the complex, she says. “I like having the opportunity to bring people together, figure out the problem, build consensus and bring it to conclusion,” Osei adds.
Mentorship has played a large role in her career, both in the advice she’s gotten and the advice she’s been able to give. “Anytime I raised my hand to say, ‘I’m ready for a change,’ or, ‘maybe I’d love a new challenge,’ someone was around to help me land those opportunities,” she says.
The DGC has also been able to pay that forward by helping to build out Allstate’s mentorship programs, which within the law department have included individual mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, speed mentoring, and a diversity mentoring program.
“It showcases Allstate’s commitment to career growth,” she says. “Having people you can lean on for advice and career growth is critical. I find those relationships incredibly valuable and meaningful and a great way to build your personal board of directors.”
Osei advises younger attorneys to recognize the agency they have over their career choices. “Don’t be afraid to ask for a new career opportunity,” she says, adding it doesn’t have to mean a promotion. “Trying something outside of your wheelhouse can only add value to a lawyer’s career.”
She adds that it’s important to not underestimate the power of networking. “When you look for mentorships, I think of advice someone shared with me early on in my career: don’t just look up, look in all directions—I’m certain I’ve learned just as much from peers and team members as I have from people senior to me. Don’t go it alone, it’s important to have people who can help you celebrate the wins and get through the challenging times.”