My career path has been a winding road that brought me back to what I wanted.
I studied business and finance, then switched to interior design. But ultimately, I graduated with a degree in elementary education, though I have never taught a day in my life.
My dad worked in the insurance industry, and through him I got summer experience working in brokerages. Because I made so many connections, I’ve always felt as though I have someone in my corner, someone to bounce things off of, someone who can give me advice but also let me figure it out on my own. Having a father who was so senior and visible in the industry was both a good and a bad thing, because I didn’t want anyone to think I got where I am because of him. Instead, it made me work harder so I could feel as though I proved that while he may have opened doors for me, my hard work helped me make moves in my career. Because of this, my career journey has definitely not been a straight line. What’s the fun of that anyway?
Getting to Know Me
My first job out of college was as an underwriting trainee at AIG. It was a bit intimidating to join with an education degree. But there was no such thing as a degree in insurance back then, so trainees were from diverse educational backgrounds. I stayed at AIG for two intense years, eventually learning there is a way to underwrite and quote almost any account that touches your desk!
I left AIG for a brief stint at another carrier, where I learned something else important about myself: Quoting and (hopefully!) binding a deal was exciting to me, and I wanted to be at a company that had the ability to grow and accept new business and challenges. Soon, I joined Reliance National where I continued working in directors and officers (D&O) insurance.
I witnessed big changes in the D&O insurance space over the course of my career. It started off as just insuring the directors and officers of an organization, but then came entity coverage, which insured the whole organization. Determining pricing meant looking closely at new areas of the business when underwriting. I underwrote many bio-tech companies and initial public offerings. I gained expertise in that industry and also learned how key announcements and properly managing shareholder expectations can impact underwriting and ultimately the quote and terms offered.
From Underwriting to Brokering: Transferring Skills
My next career move was to become a broker. It was pivotal and influenced by what I saw growing up. My dad would say, “As an underwriter, you can leave work that comes in on a Friday night to the following Monday. But as a broker, if your client calls you, you must deal with the issue no matter when it is.” It can be a hard change to go from underwriter to broker, but I loved the excitement of meeting the clients and solving their problems and presenting solutions 10 times more than writing the deal!
I was able to make this move, in part, because of how small the world of insurance is. Typically, brokers recruit from the best underwriters they know, because if you’re good with the technicalities of underwriting, you will be skilled at explaining the coverage to clients. I could never have become the strong broker I was without having been an underwriter first. I wouldn’t be able to give the right guidance to my clients or have realistic asks of underwriters without this knowledge.
Still Here, Still Growing
After brokering, I pivoted to do some independent consulting work for a bit. It wasn’t for me. I wanted to be in a company with collaboration and camaraderie.
That’s when the opportunity with Arch came along. A former colleague was at Arch and was hiring in Enterprise Risk Management, part of a group called Corporate Underwriting. I didn’t know much about it and wondered how my background would be useful.
I started doing some research and saw there were a lot of actuaries in that space, and I wondered how my experience would translate. I spoke to trusted peers about this career change and came to find that Arch wanted someone who can speak to the business side and who knows how underwriters think. Fast forward almost 15 years, and I’m still here and still growing with Arch.
Arch Values and Behaviors Keep Us Connected
I am deeply involved with bringing The Arch Experience to life on our teams. The Arch Experience gives us a connection with the people we work with. It is centered on practicing a set of Behaviors, which are guided by our Values. In my experience, it keeps people happy and motivated and makes them want to stay.
Everything about our Arch Values and Behaviors comes from the top, and people see our leaders go beyond just talking about them, but exemplifying them, so these Values and Behaviors are second nature.
I have seen how our Behaviors of Being Responsive, Being Passionate about the Voice of the Customer and Being Collaborative make for a better work environment, which makes for happier employees.
I’m also part of the mentorship program at Arch. I still talk to my former mentees, and the relationships we have developed have been so organic. Being able to witness the growth that comes from nurturing our employees in this intentional manner keeps me motivated and truly happy with my work. It’s what Arch is all about, and I look forward to seeing and being part of the growth of many more colleagues.
SVP, Chief Risk Officer/Corporate Underwriting
Arch Insurance | Jersey City, N.J.