More than 200 women gathered in Chicago to discuss their experiences, network and learn during Digital Insurance’s Women in Insurance Leadership conference on Nov. 8.

Sessions focused on the “DNA of leadership”, mentorship and burnout. Following are some selected quotes from the morning’s program.

Mary Boyd, president and CEO of Plymouth Rock Home Assurance, opened the program with a keynote fireside chat about her experience within the industry and how opening up helped her to make a safe space for her team.

“Sharing will crack the protective shell,” Boyd says, adding that senior executives have questioned her leadership style.

“Senior executives have asked me: ‘The one thing I worry about is that your team likes working for you too much, are you tough enough? Do they feel accountable to you?” she shares. “Kindness is not a weakness. The reason my team is great is because I see [them]–I care about [them.]”

Leadership

Kimberly Hall, chief people officer, digital client solutions at Aon, suggested some advice for attendees during the session, “The Path to Leadership,” which focused on what facilitates a great leader including some best practices from speakers on how to get there. 

Hall says: “Ask questions, be humble in what you don’t know and lead with that.”

Courtney Davis Curtis, assistant vice president, risk management and resilience planning at the University of Chicago, says you have to be human first and that you can “manifest what you want.”

Mentorship

The session, “Mentorships mean business,” included conversations around mentorship styles and how organizations can improve employee satisfaction. 

Bobbie Collies, vice president of distribution at Coterie Insurance, spoke about reverse mentoring or when a more entry-level employee mentors a more senior person.

“It’s important to know what you want out of your career and out of a mentorship relationship,” says Melissa Kahl, marketing manager at Central Insurance, during the session. “Find a mentor to pick you up out of the day-to-day frustrations.”

“We all tend to look for people that look, feel, and behave like us when we’re talking about mentorship, but I think it’s a call to action to look outside of our own perspective. And they don’t necessarily need to have the same look, behavior or have the same background you have,” says Meagan Schumaker, Director of Underwriting at Branch Insurance. “Diversity in mentorship is probably more important than ever.”

Burnout

Marissa Buckley, Fractional CMO at Brilliantly, spoke during, “Burnout out, post pandemic: Career pivots, potholes and priorities,” which included experiences from panelists on how they navigate difficult situations and building a support network. She said that in the past, she was not a good barometer of her own stress — and that “burnout doesn’t tell you when it hits you.”

Jackie Morales added, “I thought I had to be bulletproof and I didn’t feel I could make a mistake. I felt like I had to be perfect. … I realized vulnerability was a super power and I didn’t have to be perfect, being imperfect you learn more.”

Indira Davidson, VP of Operations Planning at USAA, says that her resiliency to burnout is strengthened by “my family, my friends… These are the people around you that keep you strong and give that inner strength. And that inner strength can get you through anything.”

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