Why it’s about chasing experience and opportunity, not a linear career

Manager looks at why planning a rigid journey into management can hold you back

Why it’s about chasing experience and opportunity, not a linear career

Insurance News

By Ksenia Stepanova

Having set goals and a targeted career path is vital for most insurance industry players who know where they want to go – but, according to one manager, the path to a truly satisfying career is simply taking opportunities as they come.

Gallagher Bassett executive general manager – sales & engagement Stacey Williams has held a multitude of roles throughout her 20 year career in insurance, and says that each role has taught her something new and pushed her career forward - something which has ensured a constant personal challenge, and provided her with a brand new learning experience every time.

“I’ve held a variety of roles, I can’t even enumerate them from top to bottom,” Williams said. “I started in a claims role and operations role, and then not too long afterwards I put my hand up for a learning and development role. That was really my first ‘work support’ type of role, and since then that’s been the foremost thing that I’ve done – from learning and development through to client services to sales, account management, customer service and urbanisation development.

“I’ve taken every opportunity and evolved my role through identifying what the company needed. Safe to say that 14 years on, I haven’t taken a linear path to my career.”

Williams says that she has chased experience and opportunity rather than following a pre-set, structured path towards a management role which would ultimately not teach her anything new. She says putting her hand up for some of the more ‘undesirable’ opportunities has also proven career-changing, both in terms of skill acquisition and relationship building.

“I haven’t said to myself ‘I must start here, and then the next step is to be a manager, then go into claims operation and then be a branch manager’,” Williams said. “I haven’t done that. I’ve travelled, I’ve lived interstate, I’ve put my hand up for major opportunities when Gallagher Bassett won large contracts. As a result, I’ve probably gone into roles that I wasn’t yet ready for or don’t necessarily know, but was passionate about. So I learned a new craft and a new skill, but I’ve taken a relatively different approach to a lot of my peers.”

“As one example, I’ve put my hand up sheepishly whenever we get night contracts,” Williams explained. “We might have zero staff in Australia and with each contract, we know we’re going to get up to 200 staff over the coming two months. I’ve always ran to those, and they are and always have been career changing. I have always learned about a new product, a new jurisdiction or a new way of learning. I’ve developed relationships and networked, and the first time I did it, it was a huge eye opener.”

“None of my role changes have been the result of me applying for a new job, just evolving,” she concluded. “Every time you can learn something about yourself – that can lead to a new change in course or career.”

For more inspirational stories don’t miss the Women in Insurance Summits being held soon in Sydney and Auckland. Click the links for more details on each event now.

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