Meet Stephanie J. Dunstan
Although I wasn’t sure where my career would take me, my advantage has always been a belief in education and a willingness to work hard. My grandmother taught me that. She spent 40 years working at the Queens High School in Jamaica, where I was born. Every summer we’d fly down from Philadelphia to visit and she’d remind me, if you want something, learn from those who are already successful and be willing to jump in, feet first.
“A company doesn’t make you successful, you do. Work hard, seek out others who believe in you and learn everything you can.”
I took that to heart and, as a student at Penn State, joined Inroads, a program that pairs students of color with organizations seeking to mentor them and provide career opportunity. My earliest work was in advertising, which I enjoyed but realized was not my career ambition. When offered a job, I did the unthinkable and turned it down. It was a lesson to me; be true to yourself. If you’re not happy, pivot; don’t waste time.
A more exciting opportunity arrived when a local insurance company recruited me. It was an entirely new profession but they were willing to train me. There was only one problem. I thought to myself on the Amtrak to New York: What the heck is underwriting? But my grandmother’s words echoed through my brain — jump in. The interviews went well and I was honest about my lack of experience which, I believe, only helped me. Seek out those who are where you want to be and learn all you can.
After working there for a few years, I also sought to advance my education as I believe that success starts with one’s personal drive. Each night, after work, I headed to class to pursue my MBA. I was exhausted but I look back on these years with pride.
The hard work paid off. I was receptive to change after spending most of my life in Philadelphia. I was introduced to Arch through one of my broker partners. I was interviewed and accepted an underwriting position in their National Accounts Group in New York, where I spent six years.
In 2016, I was promoted and, just as I was hitting my stride, a detour — Arch asked me to relocate to Los Angeles to take over a book of business there. I knew nothing about the West Coast nor anybody who lived there, but I accepted the position because I believe you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone. Manhattan Beach was no substitute for Manhattan, but my three years out West proved character-forming. Every relationship I built, business or personal, was from the ground up. I learned how to network, make connections and value loyal partnerships.
Pivot again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, to oversee my own team. LA had been boot camp but Atlanta was going to be my chance to channel all my training into a leadership role. Again, I said yes and that decision has proven to be a good one. Not only do I love the pace of the south, I am inspired by my colleagues. No longer is my career just about me, it’s about helping those with whom I work nurture their skills, develop their leadership and achieve a work-life balance that allows us to give back to causes that are important to us.
In my own life, that cause has been the importance of education. My grandmother has passed on, but I have founded a non-profit charity in her memory that covers tuition, books and uniform fees for kids in Jamaica. We’ve managed to make an education possible for many struggling families and it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Today when I speak to students I tell them that past circumstances do not predict future success. Seek out people and companies who want to nourish you. Money is nice, but it is impact on others that really matters.
Stephanie J. Dunstan
RVP, National Accounts Casualty
Arch Insurance | Alpharetta, Ga.
Stephanie J. Dunstan is the Regional Vice President of the Southeast Region with Arch Insurance managing the primary casualty division. Her responsibilities include recruiting and retaining top performers and building and maintaining broker and client relationships. Stephanie began her career more than a decade ago in her hometown, Philadelphia, Pa., but has nationwide experience with a strong understanding of the markets in California, New York, and, most recently, Georgia. Stephanie has her bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and is diehard Penn State fan. She earned an MBA from LaSalle University and is a chartered public casualty underwriter, an associate in risk management and an associate in reinsurance.
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