A chance encounter, combined with very intentional involvement in her community gave Andrea Hadlington (pictured) the winning formula for a successful career in the insurance industry.
Fresh out of college at 22 years old, Hadlington jumped into a job booking travel for businesses, but when the travel industry underwent a dramatic change following 9/11, and many accounts turned to automated online services to book their travel plans, it was time for a career shift. And, as is the case for many insurance professionals, Hadlington came into the sector completely by accident.
“A new family moved into the house next door, and we quickly became friends. They were starting a new State Farm agency here in Georgetown, and I soon accepted a position working at their agency as the office administrator,” she told Insurance Business. “I quickly identified that this could be a wonderful opportunity to pursue my passion if I became client-facing. I thus began pursuing my OTL and life licenses.”
She accomplished both within six months, followed by a mutual funds license one year later, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I began selling and servicing personal lines, small business, and life insurance products, and then accepted a management role as well at the State Farm agency. Nearly eight years later, in November 2013, I accepted a challenging new role as marketing communication coordinator, and then director of marketing communications, at CCV,” said Hadlington, today an account executive focused on small business and life insurance at CCV Insurance & Financial.
Hadlington’s move to the brokerage revealed a key aspect of working in insurance that’s kept her passionate about the business throughout the past 13 years.
“The interesting thing about insurance is that there are always opportunities to take a different career path within this business, so if you’re finding that you want to focus on, for example, commercial lines, there’s ample opportunity to go down that path, or if you’re more of an administrative person, there’s an opportunity to be on the admin side,” Hadlington explained. “There are always lots of options to change your trajectory within insurance.”
Hadlington’s expertise in small business insurance was developed over years of deliberate networking and community involvement that exposed her to many small business owners and their insurance needs. In October 2017, she returned to sales in her current role at CCV’s Georgetown location, and developed strong bonds with small business owners that she’s known throughout her career, dating back to her days in the travel industry.
“The fact of the matter is, if you are surrounded by likeminded people or people that are talking about in this case, small business, it’s just a natural fit to focus on that because you’re already thinking of solutions,” she said, pointing to cyber liability as a recent need for these owners, who are often considered too risky for insurers and struggle to find coverage. “You’re already thinking of ideas on how to fix that and when you’re always searching for solutions for people, you know you’re in the right place, especially in our business.”
Alongside small businesses, Hadlington also focuses on start-ups, and her network includes thousands of retailers, manufacturers, not-for-profit organizations and contractors. Geographically, her marketing landscape is centered around North Halton and Brampton, with a niche market focus on female entrepreneurs and female business owners, typically with revenues under $2,000,000, she told Insurance Business.
Hadlington’s community involvement continues to this day, and remains an important part of her work in insurance. Many small business owners have a hard time understanding insurance, so she works with local chambers of commerce to give webinars and lead roundtable discussions as a way to educate their members on topics ranging from business contingency planning to cyber risk management.
“Being present in these environments has given me opportunity to connect on a more personal level with potential clients and my referral channels. Providing added value like this allows me to circulate with existing clients and meet new people that are centres of influence that I may not have met otherwise,” said Hadlington.
She’s also taken on a major leadership role in a professional women’s organization, which helps Hadlington stand out in the marketplace, along with her other community ties.
“What differentiates me from my competition is my active role on several committees linked to our local boards of trade and more specifically, my leadership roles in professional business women’s organizations’ executive boards, such as the Cornerstone Professional Women’s Association and Women Supporting Women in Business,” she said. “In fact, I co-founded and am the current director of the Cornerstone Women’s Network, a networking initiative that began seven years ago when a client of mine and I were casually discussing the lack of women’s networking opportunities in Halton Hills.
“I firmly believe in giving back to groups that support and promote my peers’ and my successes, as well as consistently referring business to members of my network. It’s a two-way street – you get what you give. Strong referral channels and centres of influence develop over years of dedication, and I can attribute much of my personal success to more levels than just sales.”
However, Hadlington adds that the insurance industry needs to evolve further to provide those networking opportunities for its female leaders.
“There needs to be something that brings women from all parts of the insurance, whether they're direct writers or even benefits administrators – it doesn’t matter – there’s got to be a place for them to shine and learn about the other opportunities out there,” said Hadlington. “We always say that you’re stronger together, but we’re missing that piece where insurance as a career for women is promoted as an excellent career option.”