(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to include comments from Deborah Sternberg about her reasons for leaving the company.)
Deborah Sternberg announced today she is stepping down as president of Starmount Life Insurance, the company founded by her father, Hans Sternberg, in the mid-1990s and acquired in 2016 by insurance giant Unum for $127 million.
In a brief email to associates, Sternberg offered little insight into her reasons for leaving the company or her future plans.
“After more than a decade helping build Starmount Life to the thriving company that it is today, I have decided to move on to new ventures,” the statement says. “I am proud of all that we have accomplished at Starmount during my tenure there, and now look forward to new opportunities.”
But Sternberg tells Daily Report she decided to leave after much deliberation because Unum was restructuring her position and offered her another leadership role with the company that would have taken her out of Baton Rouge.
“It was with the company but not headquartered in Baton Rouge and wasn’t really a good fit for what my strengths were,” she says. “I was very appreciative of the opportunity. They could not have been more gracious with me and I am certainly appreciative of them wanting me to stay.”
Sternberg, who was named president of the company in 2015 by Hans Sternberg at the same time her brother, Erich Sternberg, was named CEO, joined the family business in the mid-2000s after a career in political and media relations. She says she is exploring several potential opportunities that will enable her to better utilize her experience in those fields and that she has no plans to join another insurance company.
After Unum’s acquisition of Starmount, the Tennessee company kept the Starmount brand name locally and continued to sell vision and dental insurance direct to consumers under the well known brand. Unum also made Baton Rouge the headquarters of its vision and dental operations. But the company was no longer locally owned.
A spokeswoman for Starmount/Unum had few details on Deborah Sternberg’s departure, but said the decision was made after much careful deliberation.
“She’s been going back and forth about it and battling it internally for a while,” Starmount spokeswoman Andrea Randall says. “She just decided it was best for her to seek other career goals and try something new and she is looking forward to it.”
Randall says Erich Sternberg will continue in his role as the head of local operations.