“It was less about directing my career towards the insurance field and more about finding the right fit and a supportive work culture,” explained Brooke Runnion, executive vice president at Lockton Insurance.
Runnion works tirelessly to help provide the best insurance benefit packages with some of the country’ biggest health care employers. It is this work that she is hoping to discuss with likeminded colleagues at the upcoming Women in Insurance Texas 2021 event.
Coming from a human resources background that required Runnion to call on her negotiating and communication skills, Runnion sought out a position at her current employer, Lockton Insurance, where she was certain she could further her professional pursuits.
“It was a seamless transition to my current role at Lockton,” Runnion said. “I was already aware working previously on the provider side of insurance, of the inefficiencies, rising cost in the healthcare industry, and issues with an increasingly unhealthy population so I know I could pivot easily into helping out employer clients rather than provider clients.”
Runnion hopes to share some of her insights in the insurance field with other female insurance professionals at the upcoming Women in Insurance Texas 2021 day of roundtable discussions. Due to COVID, these discussions will be taking place virtually – but not being able to share face to face discussions is not hampering what she is expecting to get out of the experience.
Insurance success - the ability to “bounce back”
So just how important is the idea of resilience when navigating through the complexities of client needs?
“I like to think of it as having the tools in the toolbox to help you weather the challenges that may come along,” Runnion explained. She goes on to add that: “The way I personally view it is the need to put myself first if I am going to be resilient for my clients - I need to lead by example and show that strength.”
The role of technology during the pandemic
If the pandemic has taught insurance professionals anything, it is that technology can help keep business links strong during the isolation of working remotely. From conducting meetings through video conferencing, to speaking to clients via webcam, business, for the most part, has been able to continue at optimal levels.
“Technology received the biggest win…I like to call it the corona bonus which allowed us to utilize technology in situations that would have previously required an in-person visit,” she said. “I viewed this as a gift that allowed me to not travel to see clients and enabled me to reallocate that time for myself and my family. Technology has given us a platform.”
What can women bring to the insurance table?
Although women continue to be in the minority in the insurance field, Runnion sees this as having a positive impact.
“Being a woman making the calls is different,” she said. “It allows me to have different conversations with people as I see things. I can be vulnerable with my clients, which in turn creates a safe space allowing them to be vulnerable with me. This vulnerability helps me achieve my overall goal of helping the best I can.”
However, there still come unique challenges for a woman in the insurance industry in any role. Chief among those challenges is the age-old struggle to bear the lion’s share of work responsibilities at home while trying to reach specific goals at work.
This ongoing reality for women intensified under the worst of the pandemic, forcing some industry professionals into the impossible decision to leave their jobs to take care of added family responsibilities. The lack of childcare help and struggle to work from home while juggling both client and the homeschooling needs of children begs the question of just how far the industry has come to answering the specific needs of women insurance professionals.
“We need to create those support systems at work and come up with ways to handle competing demands,” Runnion said. “We saw women leaving the workforce at higher rates during COVID which took us back a few steps. We need to find ways to navigate things differently.”
Three qualities that may propel women forward in the insurance field
When asked to list three attributes that she sees as being the most beneficial to her work, Runnion thoughtfully answers that empathy, tenacity and positivity would top her list of must-have attributes.
Runnion explained that “understanding what the client is going through is paramount, and being in a highly competitive field it would be easy to give up. Without bringing positivity to client-based interactions it would also be easy for things to turn negative under the current stresses we all face.”
Despite the added strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing competition between home life and work demands, Runnion digs deep in her personal toolbox and relies on inner resilience to remain committed to her work.
To hear more from Runnion make sure to attend Women in Insurance Texas virtually. Register now.