Can male qualities help women succeed?

Insurance House brokerage CEO, Jacque Schaendorf, says she learned a lot from her six brothers

Can male qualities help women succeed?

Insurance News


Schaendorf grew up on a dairy farm where she lived and worked alongside six brothers. She tells Insurance Business it was a great training ground for her career, enabling an easy and natural transition into the insurance industry.

At work, she realized she had picked up useful communication skills from her brothers. “Unbeknownst to myself,” she says, "I was already communicating in a manner that … was very effective,” she says.

Schaendorf credits her work ethic and ability to clearly communicate on important matters for making her visible to those in power, but says she pushes herself to always do better: “I’m always raising my own bar. I don’t wait for my boss to tell me what to do or how to do it. I’m just constantly motivated to look at what the next thing is that has to get done, or for other opportunities that might not be in front of us.”

Her natural fit with the male-dominated environment may have been responsible for Schaendorf’s attracting three important male career mentors: Marcus Payne (“an icon in the E&S world”), Tom Mulligan (then president of Western World) and Tom Kuzma (president of Nautilus).

Schaendorf does not believe that women face significant career challenges in the insurance industry at the lower ranks, where women now outnumber men in the lower ranks, but she accepts there is still a problem at the executive level. She says flexible working and diversity programs help women to achieve and regrets not implementing the work-from-home program at Insurance House four years earlier.

However, she is emphatic that in the end success comes down to the person. “No program can take the place of drive, motivation, work ethic, hustle. [Success is] here for people that exhibit those qualities. Especially for women: we’re more visible now. There are a lot more of us who are known. Our reputations are well known. I don’t care if you’re a male or a female, there are certain qualities that are going to get you noticed, and that has been the case for me,” she says.

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