Speaking with Cathy Laurin, one thing is clear: When it comes to Insurance, she means business.
As a Personal Lines Specialist at one of Canada’s largest home, auto, and business insurance companies and a Career Ambassador (a kind of industry mentor), she shares her passion with as many individuals – especially students and grads – who she believes can find their place in Insurance.
Cathy has had a long tenured and varied career path in the insurance industry, and despite reaching this impressive career milestone, she describes how every day continues to bring something new, exciting, and challenging. Like many who enter the industry, Cathy didn’t expect to find herself in Insurance. In her own words, opening herself up to Insurance turned out to be the best decision she could have made.
Finding a Fit in Insurance
After graduating from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Commerce and a major in Marketing, Cathy found herself in the midst of a recession and knew she had to be resourceful. To further complicate matters, Cathy still wasn’t clear what industry she wanted to work in! But she approached the job hunt with an open mind, dedication, and an eagerness to apply her skills and Marketing experiences to whatever opportunities might present themselves.
One day while scanning through the local paper, a recruitment ad from the Insurance industry caught her eye. They were looking for university grads to become Sales Associates at their organization, and, better yet, promised full in-house training to candidates.
“I thought, ‘perfect,’ and applied!” says Cathy. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
Over the years, Cathy’s career evolved from Sales Associate to her current position as a Personal Lines Specialist in addition to being a Career Ambassador for the Insurance Institute of Canada.
As a Personal Lines Specialist, at any given time, you might find her supervising the audit team, researching and analyzing complex property and automobile risks, or working with a project committee on the launch of a new software product.
“My responsibilities vary greatly depending on what’s going on in my world at any given day, so I really have to consult my calendar to know where I need to be at any given time,” she adds.
The fast-paced environment allowed Cathy to be organized with her time and clear in her communication style. She realized that in order to improve operations, she needed to be a “positive-change” manager to ensure her objectives were coming across clearly. In a highly people-oriented environment, this is essential.
“I definitely wouldn’t be as successful at my job if it weren’t for the support of my team,” she says. “Even now, anytime I have a question or issue I know I can go to my manager – or to anyone on the team – and get their opinions and help get the issue resolved.”
Cathy’s career in Insurance has seen her transition from a variety of roles– from claims, sales, working with computers and programming, and more recently, teaching – where she can share her enthusiasm for the industry with students, grads, and new recruits.
When a new underwriter joins the team, Cathy is the one responsible for teaching them everything they need to know on products, services, and how to sell them.
Cathy also gets involved in teaching outside of her company as a Career Ambassador for the Insurance Institute. As an Ambassador, she leads seminars and delivers presentations to classrooms or career fairs to encourage students and grads to consider and get excited about a career in Insurance.
Cathy considers the Insurance industry to be an ideal starting point for those just out of school – and while there are university and college programs that specialize in Insurance, she believes the industry is one that welcomes candidates from all academic backgrounds.
Your Future in Insurance
Much like Cathy’s first role and experiences in the industry, there continues to be ample support to ensure the success of new recruits.
“Insurance companies do a really great job of training their employees from scratch that have no Insurance experience whatsoever,” she explains. “All you need to prove is that you know how to learn. If you have gone through college or university and graduated, then obviously you can learn. So you can be taught how to work in the Insurance field.”
And when it comes to learning opportunities, there are plenty! As Cathy explains, learning opportunities can take place either in-house or at the Insurance Institute, and are vitally important in an industry whose only constant is that things change constantly.
She believes that recent grads interested in Insurance should be passionate and committed to lifelong learning, both in and outside of the classroom. For her, it is the variety and welcomed opportunities to learn about many things – from people to the material possessions they hope to insure – that constitute one of the best parts of her job.
“Say someone wants to insure a beautiful antique grand piano on their home insurance policy – I get to research that. I may have known nothing about pianos a week ago, but now I know a lot!”
“Working in Insurance, there is so much variety that it is impossible to get bored,” she says. “And if you’re looking to try out a bunch of different jobs in one industry, the Insurance industry is for you.”
Whether you’re on the road or at the office, working with computers or with people, learning how to sell or teaching new recruits, according to Cathy, no day is the same in Insurance and the opportunities are endless.
Cathy describes the industry as virtually “Recession-proof,” with a security and stability that few other industries can boast – and yet many students and grads remain unaware of the opportunities this industry can yield. But Cathy is confident there will always be work available to those looking to launch a career in Insurance.
“In times of recession, people still have to live somewhere, and they still have to have a roof over their head whether they buy a home or rent,” she says. “Some people buy smaller cars during times of recession, but they’re still buying them and they’re still insuring them.”
Cathy also gives advice to students and grads: “No matter what industry you end up in, whether it’s Insurance or elsewhere, seek to become an expert. Educate yourself, do your research and you’ll excel in whatever you chose to do. Avoid becoming stagnant and always be growing!”