A Career in Insurance: In it for the Long Haul

A Career in Insurance: In it for the Long Haul

Carrie Burns

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Girl Geek x

"Raise your hand if you knew from a young age you wanted to work in insurance." Throughout my 12 years in the insurance industry and attending numerous industry events, I've heard this from presenters more times than I can count. It doesn't take long to understand what the purpose of this exercise is: Not many people at a young age have an insurance career as part of their career goals.

What's funny is that once you're in the industry, it's difficult to leave. In 2006, my previous career with Insurance Networking News (now rebranded Digital Insurance) presented my colleague Pat Speer and I (as part of our respective tenures as editor-in-chief) with an opportunity to establish and manage an annual Women in Insurance Leadership award program and conference. Through this program I was honored to meet and interview more than 75 amazing women leaders in insurance companies, both from the business and technology sides. One of the first trends I noticed was their tenures at their respective companies—ranging from 10 to 30 years; 30 years at the same company! Their reasons were usually similar—they make a difference in the lives of many.

For example, a former winner, Sandra Parrillo, CEO of Providence Mutual, has been with the company since 1977. When interviewed in 2010, she said, "I have a passion for this industry and believe it's a great, noble business. We help people put their lives back together when things go wrong. Plus, there are a host of opportunities for those entering an exciting industry filled with great people."

Thankfully, that hasn’t changed. Given my experience with the Women in Insurance Leadership program, I was excited to learn about the Girl Geek X event that was held at Guidewire's office in early August. I registered right away. I couldn't wait to hear the stories of some of the leaders within the company I worked for, women I've admired from afar (from my home office in Indianapolis) for the past year and a half.

Girl Geek x Dinner Presenters

Left to Right: Roopal Shah, VP of Go To Market Delivery; Priscilla Hung, Chief Operating Officer & Board Director; Eileen Maier, Chief Business Officer; Lerk-Ling Chang, VP of Strategic Ventures; Sandia Ren, VP of Professional Services I knew some of them had been with Guidewire for at least 15 years, which also is surprising in the tech world. However, walking into the Girl Geek event that evening, I thought these women—being in technology, working for a software firm—are going have completely different career paths and reasons to have stayed with the same company and industry for so long. They did for the most part. They shared stories of their experiences with mentors, offered actionable career advice, and highlighted the exciting development of, and opportunities in, insurance technology (watch the video below). However, one similar theme continued to emerge; one I’d heard before, and it centered around the industry. They make a difference in the lives of many.