Whether someone is a newbie to the industry or has an established insurance career already, a mentorship is a good way to gain support. Finding the right mentor or mentee is especially important for women in insurance, who may still encounter gender bias or other circumstances that don’t encourage career advancement.
Mentorships are what Cathy Lipe, vice president of personal lines at Sharp Insurance and speaker at the upcoming Women in Insurance event, leaned on during the rise to her current position.
“I was lucky enough when I came into the industry to have a very strong mentor who taught me the ropes,” said Lipe. “She wasn’t scared to take risks, and from there, I moved on to other women who I found very motivational for me.”
Consistency is crucial for a mentorship to work, added the VP. Having someone who’s available to connect and give advice on a regular basis builds a strong bond and doesn’t leave the mentee hanging during stressful or potentially career-changing moments.
The relationships formed can also last longer than a job.
“I’ve built some very long-term friendships from these mentorships and we’ve moved up together,” said Lipe, and even as a VP, she still seeks out mentorships, both as a mentee and mentor.
“I still rely on mentorships and relationships with other women who are also in similar roles. I’ve actually sought out women in leadership programs through the city that I live in and those have been very helpful for me.”
Lipe is currently a mentor for another woman in industry. When she’s searching for a new mentee, she looks inside her office first for interest from other employees.
In terms of finding new mentors, Lipe likes to keep her focus on other women in the industry. She recommends seeking people out, learning about their credentials, and finding them at events, like conferences, to get introduced.
In a field that’s still dominated by men at the top, it will be a gradual process to level the playing field, but women can help each other in breaking through that glass ceiling.
“We need our women to know that they are good enough,” said Lipe. “There are so many things out there that women are so strong in and they don’t see their own value sometimes. I think it’s up to us as women to lift each other up and to help each other move on.”
Cathy Lipe will be presenting on career advancement for women in the industry at the Women in Insurance event being held on May 15, 2018. Click here for more details and to register.