Karen Hardy reveals it was “utter boredom” that made her take a career shift and delve into the insurance industry. “At the time, back in 1996, I was working for a local bank and was dying for a new challenge. I heard about a job with a local multi-agent, applied, and got the job,” she says.
Five years on, Hardy secured a licence and launched her own brokerage. “I have never looked back…nor have I ever been bored,” the Valerie Baker Memorial Award winner says, a feat that stands for her excellence, and commitment to the craft.
The diversity of the insurance industry is what initially drew Hardy into the profession, and after twenty-one fruitful years as a principal broker with Acme Insurance Brokers, she can still say she is “living the dream”.
“For me, insurance is a vocation, not a job and that is the secret to anyone’s success. You have to love what you do and do what you love,” Hardy says. She also reminds us to step beyond ourselves and make broader impact, valuing “the importance of our role within the community”, and an important one that “should never be underestimated nor taken for granted”.
“I love my community; the fact that they rely upon me in times of need, and that their ever-changing circumstances constantly challenge my knowledge and grit,” Hardy says, also pointing to her extended responsibilities as educator, advocate and confidant to clients and the broader community; multifaceted roles that enlighten her with “great satisfaction”.
Even at times of unfortunate catastrophe or natural disaster, Hardy acknowledges the chaos this brings for Acme, but ultimately values the company’s “ability to successfully intermediate the claims process for the benefit of our clients emotional and financial health.” To Hardy, it’s these moments that call upon professionals to do what “we should all do best” – “care for others”.
With over two decades of collected knowledge, Hardy turns attention toward technology and its double edge. Whilst streamlining and simplifying delivery systems, she believes it has also given rise to a harmful trend: users not retaining information. This includes the “lack of knowledge, interest, and empathy” that has come about from an increased reliance on digital systems.
In response to another challenge facing the industry today – gender short fallings – Hardy says, “we should all be striving for equality within the workforce by eradicating nepotism, through advancement based on individual merit.” She trusts that as long as women work hard and foster respect from their peers, “success will follow”.
9. Karen Hardy, Acme Insurance Brokers