We all know that change is constant, and it is always wiser to adapt to the changing times. Often, it is difficult to break the mold that has been implied for decades.
Women, who work in the insurance industry, have repeatedly tried to break that mold. They have been attempting to strengthen their roots and show their potential to become a successful leader. Today, more and more women are breaking the glass ceiling with their ambition and desire to lead. One such leader is Maureen Gallagher, who has played various roles and has achieved new heights.
As the Agency President at AssuredPartners, Maureen specializes in insurance placement, risk management consulting, and expert opinions. She has over 40 years of experience and has successfully delivered on every opportunity she was presented with. Alongside being a leader, Maureen is also an avid long-distance runner, cyclist, swimmer, certified exercise/spinning instructor. She is a USA Cycling, Road Runners Club of American, and USA Triathlon coach. She has also qualified several times for the Sprint and Olympic distance USA Triathlon National Championships. She has completed 70.3 Ironman and was named one of the “50 Fittest CEOs” by Crain’s Detroit Business.
We at CIO Look caught up with Maureen to unveil her entrepreneurial journey and how she is leading by example.
A Steppingstone Drive
Maureen has often characterized her career as an accidental career. She never mapped it out, but as the opportunities presented themselves, she made sure to seize them. She started in insurance when the industry’s agents and leadership were male dominated.
Maureen was a trailblazer in most positions she earned. While diversity is embraced by most companies today, she had a difficult journey getting companies to give women leadership opportunities.
A Viewpoint of Impactful Leadership
Maureen is a firm believer in adopting a serve-first model when it comes to leadership. In her opinion, servant leadership focuses on the needs of others before considering their own. She believes in empowering and uplifting those who work with her.
Maureen is always looking for ways to enhance the development of her staff in ways that can unlock potential, creativity, and a sense of purpose that aligns with the AssuredPartners’ mission. She also employs this attitude with its clients. She doesn’t believe in the old sales adage of ABC, ‘always be closing’; instead, she believes in ABH, ‘always be helping.’
A Healthy Workplace
Maureen knows a positive work environment is supported by a vital purpose and core values followed by good communication, opportunities for growth/promotion, respecting and trusting your employees, and finally – kindness.
Back in 2005, Maureen read an article of an interview with Piera Ferrucci, an Italian psychotherapist, and the author of The Power of Kindness. Ever since, the concept of kindness and its profound impact on human happiness and – perhaps more surprisingly – effective leadership has intrigued her. For her, Ferrucci was first to frame the notion that kindness is not a luxury but a necessity to personal happiness and inspired leadership, especially in an era when many people no longer feel connected.
People are inspired by kindness. They respond positively to being treated well. A happy culture correlates more highly with success than an every-man-for- himself culture. People are at the heart of every company’s success, and people tend to like kindness.
Facing Challenges Through Industry Expertise
Navigating the demanding marketplace and managing client expectations remain Maureen’s largest challenges. She overcomes these challenges with her simple client philosophy.
Maureen and her team are here to serve. Client service is at the heart of what they are all about. They protect billions in assets and take that responsibility seriously. The dedication of the team’s commitment to being of service is central to the company’s growth and success.
Aligned Work-Culture with Innovative Technologies
It isn’t a surprise that technology has pushed the insurance industry to become more flexible with changing times. Maureen developed services and implemented resources for her clients, which resulted in success for the risk management team.
Most of the AssuredPartners strategies come from a client’s need and finding a solution for the same. The learning experience from such instances is incorporated into its services. Today, AssuredPartners has robust services and the ability to provide solutions to a wide variety of issues.
Maureen says that technology and analytics have become vital tools to assist clients. She started AssuredPartners’ internal science hub-IMPACT ANALYTICS®, which combines traditional insurance know-how with deep technological expertise to deliver competitive advantages to support and execute strategic objectives. IMPACT ANALYTICS® assists its clients analyze the effects of certain decisions or events, evaluate a given scenario’s performance, and improve or make changes based on what the data reveals.
Maureen made all the hires for IMPACT ANALYTICS®, trained the staff, and manage the people and deliverables. IMPACT ANALYTICS® has been a gamechanger for her clients navigating this challenging marketplace.
Rising to the Challenge of Pandemic
When asked about the impact of the current pandemic, Maureen said the biggest change personally is she let her hair go grey. As far as the insurance industry, Maureen stated that it has been a game-changer – a watershed moment. The pandemic heightened cyber risks and has been a catalyst for a significant increase in digitization. The uncertain future has forced AssuredPartners to rethink how it interacts with consumers, businesses, and employees.
Risk managers, concerned with all kinds of risk before COVID-19 now realize they must also manage the impact of pandemic risk. Getting it wrong is not an option. Though some insurance products for pandemics exist, they are not affordable for most businesses struggling with multi-year double-digit increases on other lines of coverage they traditionally purchase. The entire fall-out from the pandemic is yet unknown, but everyone must learn from the past and rethink this risk and solutions moving forward.
Uplifting the Community
AssuredPartners’ AP Cares support actives that enhance and serve communities in which it lives and works. The organization gives back, supporting the community, and allowing its employees to share in this effort. To do this, it offers the employees volunteer time off days.
Maureen gives back to the community by participating in endurance events and raising money for charities. Most of the endurance events she participated in were tied to a charity fundraiser, making it more meaningful. Over the last five years, she has raised over $250K for various charities.
Looking Above and Beyond
Over the years, Maureen has played various roles of an insurance underwriter, broker, claims consultant, expert witness, keynote speaker, historian, and teacher. She has worn multiple hats and has delivered in every one, but the future still holds more.
Maureen says, “I am in the twilight of my career, but when I look out on the horizon, I don’t see the finish line. I have learned that not only do I like teaching, coaching, and mentoring, but I am good at it. I want to use these gifts to give back to the industry and the company that gave so much to me. I believe in abundance. I believe in creating a bigger pie, not fighting for a bigger slice of the pie. I believe there are no secrets in insurance – it’s about who executes most effectively.”
Maureen is always happy to share her thoughts, knowledge, and ideas. She has been rewarded with her colleague’s trust, gratitude, respect, and ever more abundance. Through her mentorship over the years, she has been able to influence many careers and help individuals perform at the highest levels of the insurance industry. She sees the balance of her career being dedicated to inspiring young insurance professionals to excel in the insurance industry with integrity, skill, and honor.
Bequeathing Aspiring Entrepreneurs
On her advice to budding entrepreneurs, Maureen says, “While the insurance industry often gets a bad rap, the work we do is essential to society. It safeguards the interests of people and businesses from uncertainty by providing certainty of payment at a given contingency. Our economy and everyday lives are facilitated because we have insurance.”
She further adds, “As insurance professionals, we share a purpose by all of us who wish to leave the world better than we found it by helping our clients to save lives, prevent injuries and illnesses, and avoid financial hardship. Anyone will be a successful insurance professional if they blend competence with kindness, integrity and hard work.”
In addition, it is important to be optimistic and have a will to succeed regardless of whatever is thrown your way. Being as optimistic as possible will not only help you see it out to the end but also give strength to those around you.