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Securian Financial announces leadership promotions and new hire

ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Securian Financial today announced several leadership promotions and a new hire as the company increases its strategic focus on priority markets.

Sid Gandhi was promoted to executive vice president of Employee Benefits Solutions, reporting to Chris Hilger, chairman, president and CEO. Gandhi succeeds Bruce Shay, who recently retired after 37 years with the company.

Gandhi assumes responsibility for Securian Financial’s largest business, which includes group life insurance and voluntary solutions offered through employers. He’s served the business as senior vice president since January 2022, working to grow the company’s market share in a competitive industry. Gandhi also serves as board chair for Empyrean Benefit Solutions, an independently operated Securian Financial subsidiary.

Since joining Securian Financial in 2010, Gandhi has helped the company build capabilities and drive growth by overseeing strategic planning, leading mergers and acquisitions, centralizing marketing, transforming enterprise technology and more.

Lydia Jilek has joined Securian Financial as second vice president and voluntary benefits practice leader, reporting to Gandhi. Serving in a new leadership position for the company, Jilek directs Securian Financial’s efforts to meet strong market demand for voluntary solutions.

Jilek has nearly 20 years of employee benefits experience, most recently with Willis Towers Watson, where she led consulting teams supporting the voluntary benefits needs of Fortune 1000 employers. Previously, she led the voluntary benefits product team at Voya and held product development and market leadership positions with Unum and Medica.

Jennifer Lastine has been promoted to vice president of technology infrastructure and enterprise solutions, reporting to Pete Berlute, senior vice president of Enterprise Technology. She has been instrumental in leading components of Securian Financial’s technology transformation, including application modernization and cloud conversion.

Lastine has more than 20 years of experience in technology leadership, implementation, consulting and project management. She joined Securian Financial in 2017.

Sara Kaufman was promoted to second vice president and chief actuary, reporting to Bob Ehren, senior vice president. She now leads the company’s actuarial function, including modeling and valuation—and also is a key strategic consultant to the company’s businesses.

Kaufman joined Securian Financial in 2018 as actuarial consulting director and assistant chief actuary. She has 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry, with expertise in actuarial modeling, financial reporting and risk management.

New subsidiary leadership

Suzette Huovinen is the new president and CEO of Securian Asset Management, Inc., a Securian Financial subsidiary. She succeeds Sean O’Connell, who will serve as chief investment officer until his retirement in July 2023.

Most recently, Huovinen was Securian Financial’s senior vice president of finance, leading the company’s financial planning and analysis, tax, procurement and other finance functions.

Huovinen joined Securian Financial in 1997. She was named second vice president in 2013, appointed chief actuary and chief risk officer in 2015, and became vice president in 2017. Huovinen was promoted to senior vice president in 2019 when named CEO of Canadian Premier Life Insurance Company and Canadian Premier General Insurance Company, Securian Financial’s Canadian insurance company subsidiaries. Huovinen successfully led the development and execution of the company’s Canadian growth strategies for three years before moving back to Securian Financial’s home office.

“A strong leadership team is critical to the short- and long-term success of a company,” said Hilger. “I am confident Securian Financial has the right leaders in place to win in the markets to which we are committed. I am grateful to Bruce and Sean for their decades of distinguished service and congratulate Sid, Lydia, Jennifer, Sara and Suzette on their new positions.”

About Securian Financial

At Securian Financial, we’re here for family. And we’re here because of it. We’re guided by our purpose of helping customers build secure tomorrows. Since 1880, we’ve been building a uniquely diversified company that has outlasted economic ups and downs while staying true to our customers. We provide insurance, investment and retirement solutions that give families the confidence to focus on what’s truly valuable: banking memories with those who matter most. For more information about Securian Financial, visit or follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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  • Sid Gandhi, bio photo
  • Lydia Jilek, bio photo
  • Jennifer Lastine, bio photo
  • Sara Kaufman, bio photo
  • Suzette Huovinen, bio photo

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Jeff Bakken

Media Relations

DOFU 1-2023