IBC: How did you get into the insurance industry, and how did your career path lead you to being named as president of Megson FitzPatrick in March 2020?
Laura Bolster: When I was in Grade 12, our typing class had to go on work experience, and they placed me at an insurance brokerage for a week. The brokerage asked me if I wanted to continue working and, as I didn’t at that time have a plan for after I graduated, I kept working there [during high school]. After I graduated, I worked there full-time. I loved it.
When I decided to move to Victoria, my boss gave me a reference to David FitzPatrick, and they hired me almost 31 years ago. I never would have thought I’d have stayed here that long, but they treated me great – they were great mentors, Megson and FitzPatrick.
IBC: Tell us a little about the company.
LB: We are a general agency started by Al Megson, Michael Megson’s dad. We just had our 51st birthday last fall. Michael bought the agency from his dad after he graduated from university in 1978. He met David FitzPatrick in university and brought him on as a partner in 1979.
It’s a family-oriented business, about 50% commercial insurance and 50% personal and auto. Victoria’s not a big city, so you have to do everything to be successful. That was always their motto: to do all types of insurance for all clients. Our purpose statement is to improve the lives of our clients, team, and community and have a good reputation for the volunteering, donations, and support we give our community.
IBC: Having started at the company at age 19, you’ve probably held quite a few positions there along the way to your current role as president and COO.
LB: I started selling auto insurance and working in reception. After a couple years, I went into commercial insurance. I was Michael Megson’s account manager for about 10 years and a commercial broker for quite a long time; I still have some of those clients. I just sort of evolved into leadership and into managing the commercial team, which I did for many years.
I always had an aptitude for the operational side of the business and the management side and gravitated toward being the COO, which I’ve been for about six or seven years. Last year, our CEO decided it was time for him to take a little more work-life balance. It was a natural fit for me after all these years and seemed like a natural evolution to step up – keeping the operational side but adding more overall responsibility for the agency and the strategy part.
IBC: What are some of the things that attracted you to becoming part of the management team?
LB: I’m a people person – I really like getting to know people, and I think I’m really personable and approachable. I like troubleshooting for the team: the leadership and making decisions, and helping them make decisions and problem-solving together. There was a time when I had to make a choice between the client side and the management side, and I wavered back and forth, but I’ve always come back to this side; I find this is where I get the most satisfaction.
IBC: Looking at the next couple of years, is there anything you’re excited about for the company?
LB: One of the big things is developing and improving our leadership group. A lot of our senior leaders are exiting the business in the next couple of years, and identifying and developing our next group of leaders is definitely important to me.
Through this COVID-19 situation, I have seen some amazing things from our team that have just blown my mind. I’m so happy and proud of the team that we have. I see so much potential in them, and I think now it’s going to be easier to develop them after we get through this. I’m optimistic we’re going to come out of this, and we’re going to rebuild and get back to where we were, if not be a stronger company. It’s not going to be easy, but I feel very optimistic about our future.