Backed by more than 25 years of experience in the quick service and fine-dining industries, Alka Manaktala (pictured) has made her mark in the restaurant insurance space. A former fast-food franchisee, Manaktala is now the vice president of IOA Insurance Services and has written coverages for over 600 restaurants.
Insurance Business had a brief chat with Manaktala to get to know more about her experiences and career. In this exclusive Q&A, she shares the most challenging issues facing the insurance industry from her perspective.
IB: How did your insurance career journey start and what led you to this path?
Manaktala: It started in 1995 and since I had worked with top hotels and top airlines in other countries, I wanted to pursue a career where I have interaction with different people every day. I knew I was good in sales so I thought of this career path.
IB: What do you like the most about your current organization? What makes it different from other firms in the same space?
Manaktala: I love working for IOA as the top management believes a lot in family values. They are a very honest and generous company to work with. It is very different than the last agency I had worked for.
IB: Please tell us briefly about your role in your company.
Manaktala: I am a vice president and have an account executive and an account manager who work on my accounts exclusively and one more account manager I share with another producer. My main role is to bring in new business and make sure my clients are being taken care of.
IB: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work in the insurance space?
Manaktala: When I can get the best results for my clients in way of competitive pricing and providing excellent service.
IB: What do you think are the most challenging issues facing the insurance industry and your line of work today?
Manaktala: Competition from fly by night carriers, and/or programs.
IB: Do you believe that a glass ceiling exists and hinders women from getting opportunities in the insurance space? What should women do to break through?
Manaktala: I really don’t believe that as I am a living example of being a successful minority woman in this field.
IB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Manaktala: Always put yourself in your client’s shoes before making any decisions.
IB: Is there something about yourself that you are working on improving?
Manaktala: To be more organized and keep my pipeline filled with prospects.
IB: What do you think a stranger would remember most about you?
Manaktala: They never think that we have never met before. I can talk to anyone on any topic and make them feel comfortable.
IB: If you were not working in the insurance space, what would you be doing now?
Manaktala: I would be a consultant but I have no plans of doing that as I want to grow old and gray working at IOA.