When Toby Alfred was applying to college, her mother told her, “You figure out the best place you can get into and I’ll figure out a way to pay for it.” In retrospect, she says, that was “a tremendous gift.”
Neither of her parents were college graduates; her mother was a bookkeeper; her father worked as an office manager and money was tight. Alfred got a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon and took out loans to pay for her MBA from the University of Chicago.
These credentials served her well. Today she is a high-level executive at Progressive Direct Insurance in Cleveland, where more than 6,000 people report to her and she reports directly to the company president.