Vice president

Karen McGee became vice president at Plus Underwriting Managers, a full-service managing general agent, in 2011. Prior to that, she served as the program and underwriting manager at Shaw Sabey & Associates and as an account executive at Hub International. McGee is also a past president of the Canadian Security Association (CANASA), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the security industry.

IBC: Do you feel that you’ve faced any obstacles as a woman in the insurance business?

Karen McGee: For myself, I don’t think so. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career. I’ve had mentors and people who identified talents I wasn’t even aware of. They tapped into that and encouraged my growth and training to get where I am today. … I have seen a significant transition from what used to be called the old boys club to much more open-mindedness – among companies and on the brokerage side – to women in leadership positions. Regardless of gender, having the right leadership skills is paramount.

IBC: What advice would you give to women just starting out in the industry?

KM: Education is going to be really key – ensuring that you have the right basic knowledge. But grabbing hold of every opportunity and experience you can for growth is also vital. If you can find a mentor who’s going to keep you engaged and give you solid career advice, that’s one of the bigger tools that can help anybody achieve success. … I think that like any industry, women in business are able to achieve whatever they set themselves to accomplish. I think there’s plenty of opportunity to succeed for women, and in the years to come there will be even more opportunity.

IBC: And what are the most important qualities to be a good leader?

KM: Patience and a willingness to grow. What I mean by that is, knowledge is great, and education is really important, but to be a good leader, you have to be able to diversify, see the bigger picture. Knowing the social sciences and understanding the generation coming up behind you – all those pieces are very key – over and above understanding insurance and business. From the very beginning I was exposed to so many aspects of the insurance industry. If I were to advise someone going into it today, I’d suggest the same thing to them. Don’t narrow yourself to one aspect of insurance. Get as much experience and as much exposure as you’re able to, because it’s just going to enhance your skill level throughout your career.

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  • Plus Underwriting Managers

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