How do you enrich your career? Become the 'go-to' person at the office

How did a 16-year-old end up working in an insurance office?

How do you enrich your career? Become the 'go-to' person at the office

Insurance News

By Desmond Devoy

How do you make an impression as a woman in the insurance space, become a go-to person at the office, and expand and enrich your career?

Kathy Quintana (pictured), executive vice president, chief operating officer for HUB California, is ready to help you accelerate your career this fall.

Quintana will be part of a fireside chat entitled “Accelerating Your Career: The Latest Scoop on Skills and Development,” at the Women in Insurance conference that will be held at the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles on October 5. For more details and registration, please follow the link.

Her part of the discussion will also focus on mentorship, diversity and inclusion – in fact, at the time of her interview with Insurance Business, she had just returned from New York, where she had been honored by the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) as the 2023 Inclusion Champion at the IICF’s Inclusion in Insurance Global Conference.

“I’m a constant learner. I’m not done yet!” she said. “Women in Insurance has a great reputation. It’s been around a longtime. And so I’m looking to really be one of many that are going to learn and grow in a lot of areas.”

A history of inclusion

Quintana is no stranger to organizing or being in front of a crowd. She is the co-chair of the HUB women’s network, which covers a lot of employees since “72% of our company is female.” But that does not mean that 72% of managerial or executive roles are held by women, “which is pretty typical,” she admitted.

“We’re in the financial services industry. We are primarily male-dominated when it comes to leadership in the C-suite,” she said. With this network, “I wanted to do something that was going to allow women to engage, empower, and excel and understand how they can do what they want to do within the firm.”

The network spans Canada and the United States and has more than 450 ambassadors that represent 18,000 employees.

“I do a lot of work on facilitation and mentoring in that area,” she said.

Skills learned from the ground up

Quintana got into the industry through her brother, who worked as a State Farm agent, at a time when there were few if any female agents. She worked in his office, starting at the age of 16, while still attending school.

“This was a shortcut to help out my brother,” she said. “Once I got about three years under my belt, I decided, ‘You know what? I like insurance.’ I knew I wanted to work in an office. I knew I wanted to work in a big city. And I knew I wanted to make a difference.”

Insurance was a very sure path to get those things.

The field is not one that many young people grow up dreaming of, but “it’s actually a very, very robust industry,” she said. “A lot of career opportunities. I’ve never been bored.”

She began on the financial side, and she ran an accounting department for 10 years. She was younger than the people she managed which meant she had to learn how to navigate the dynamics of managing people twice her age. She learned to both respect their age and experience, and still pull a team together.

While good with numbers, the experience led her to a realization: “I like people more than I like numbers,” she said. So, she moved from the accounting side to the operations side of the business, working with men and women and learning how to continue to grow and develop her career.

“Respect and teamwork is something I’m a firm believer in and I think you do that up and down the ladder,” she said. “Treating people the way I want to be treated was always something that was really, really important to me. And that, in my opinion, has gotten me to where I am today.”

Further to that, a strong work ethic helps set a good example.

“People see that I work as hard or harder than they do,” she said. “I’m usually the one turning off the lights at night. Those are the kinds of skills that make a difference.”

Knowledge creates power

Quintana was able to use her knowledge of numbers and marry it with the ability to read financial statements to create programs and opportunities “where I could make a difference on the operational side,” she said.

She made herself into the “go-to person” on staff, on everything from performance and numerical analysis, workflow improvement, etc.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female when you help people solve those kinds of problems,” she said. “You’re going to get recognized. And that’s how my career started to expand and grow. So it’s a learning skill. Don’t just be a good soft skill person. You have to have knowledge in something and then you have to keep up that knowledge, and make sure you’re raising your hand for opportunities to help. And that’s how I got noticed - I was solving somebody else’s problem.”

And people remember that. Who had their back when they had a problem? Kathy Quintana. And it could be you too in that position.

To learn more from Kathy and an array of top industry speakers, sign up for the Women in Insurance Los Angeles event now.

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