The drive to win

The drive to win | Insurance Business America

The drive to win

Competitive athletes share one common trait: a desire to be the best and to push themselves as hard as they can to reach their full potential. That’s the mentality Trindl Reeves, a former track and field athlete at the University of California Irvine, has relied on to shape her highly successful 30-plus-year insurance career.

Reeves, who qualified to go the Olympic Trials in the 200m but couldn’t race due to injury, had an unconventional start in the insurance business. While studying for a bachelor’s degree in psychology and juggling track and field commitments, she took a part-time job making cold calls during her lunch break for $5 an hour. That’s when she discovered a talent for sales – one she would later nurture and push to its full potential in the insurance business.

After graduating from college, Reeves took a job with an insurance agency, where she was selected to take part in a producer program sponsored by The St. Paul Companies, which is now part of Travelers. She was the only woman out of the 10 candidates, and she chose to focus her insurance and risk management education around the technology and life sciences sectors.

In the early 1990s, the agency Reeves worked for was acquired by Marsh, where she honed her skills as a producer for more than a decade before being offered a leadership role as managing director, head of the San Diego office and sales leader for the Pacific South region. She stayed in that position for five years before deciding to “get back to what [she] loved” and refocus on sales.

The best of both worlds

In 2006, Reeves joined Barney & Barney, a longstanding San Diego insurance brokerage, where she led the sales operation and helped the firm more than double in size within seven years. In 2010, she was named chief sales officer for the West region; four years later, Barney & Barney was acquired by Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh that serves the risk prevention and insurance needs of middle-market companies in North America. In December 2020, Reeves was promoted to chief sales officer for the entire MMA organization.

“Thinking about my career as a sales-person and as a former athlete, I’m a very competitive person, and I’ve always had a very strong work ethic,” she says. “I believe that’s what has made me successful in sales. When I was in my 20s selling to 50-year-old men who had their golfing buddy handling their insurance, I really had to outhustle them. I had to have excellent technical insurance skills in order to convince people to work with me.

“Now that I’m in a leadership role, my focus has shifted. It’s more about strategy, navigating the changes that are happening in the market and setting our producers up for success. A big part of my job now is talent development. It’s not about being a lone producer; it’s about making our team of over 1,600 producers countrywide the best they can be.”

The chief sales officer role is a new position within MMA and is reflective of the firm’s wider strategy of building a nationwide foot-print of producers who are loyal to their local markets and can provide high-touch service to clients while also having access to centralized leadership, support, expertise, resources, and sales training and development. “We’re able to offer Fortune 50 levels of service to our middle-market clients – that’s what differentiates MMA,” Reeves says.

“We’re a very responsive organization, and we provide a wide range of value-added resources and services to clients in addition to taking care of their insurance and benefits needs. We have a saying internally around providing ‘the best of both worlds,’ which means that we want to be the local broker and take care of people in our local communities in the way they want to be taken care of, but we also have access to the resources, technology, data and analytics of the world’s largest broker. We have the best of both worlds, and we’re able to deliver that to our clients.”

Doubling down on DE&I

In her new role, Reeves has big plans for MMA, including doubling the firm’s revenue within eight years, a target she hopes to achieve primarily through organic growth. Those ambitious growth plans will require a keen eye on talent development and recruitment, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, which Reeves has advocated for throughout her career.

As a mom of two and a woman in the male-dominated realm of insurance sales, Reeves has made a concerted effort to hire and promote more women in producer roles. She believes that with the right mindset and the right support, “it is possible – if there is such a thing – to achieve a good work-life balance in the insurance industry.”

More than a decade ago, Reeves was instrumental in the creation of MMA’s GROW (Growth, Relationships and Opportunities for Women) program, which focuses on attracting, retaining, educating and supporting women within the firm. Since its founding, GROW has expanded significantly – both in terms of membership and in the scope of personal and professional programs offered – and is now a key differentiator in why women choose to work for MMA.

In recent years, MMA has also made great strides in DE&I, launching several colleague resource groups to facilitate critical mentorship and allyship programs.

“It has been proven that organizations that are more diverse tend to perform better,” Reeves says. “We want to mirror what the communities and clients that we serve look like, and they’ve been excited to hear about the DE&I programs that we’ve launched. It’s also vital for talent development and recruitment. People want DE&I, and they want to ensure that it’s not just lip service and that companies are actually living it.”