Career Navigation Strategies for Women in Insurance
Education and Careers Do you have the tools you need to succeed? Colleen Benzin of Elephant Insurance discusses her recipe for success.
What is the biggest obstacle you faced during your career and how did you overcome it?
Life events can often provide the impetus for change, and I’ve had both personal and professional situations that have impacted the course of my career. As much as you’d like to think that you can plan out exactly where your career will take you, you will be faced with obstacles and decisions that you need to make along the way. For me, that resulted in my living and working in Asia and Europe and later, taking roles in different functions and product lines. Whether it was acclimating to working in a country where I didn’t speak the language or determining how to apply my finance background to add value in a sales organization, I found it critical to actively look for peers and mentors to provide guidance, advice and support — especially when I was out of my comfort zone.
Discuss the initiatives that Elephant Insurance has for future diversity and inclusion.
Equality is one of our most important pillars and our success goes hand-in-hand with having a strong culture that champions diversity and inclusion. Because of that, we have our own Diversity and Inclusion Council to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. The council is open to all staff, and members serve in six-month rotations so everyone has a chance to be a part of it. From organizing diversity workshops to influencing our employee code of conduct, the council makes sure every staff member has the same opportunities, regardless of seniority or tenure.
If you had one piece of advice for women looking to find success in the insurance industry, what would it be?
Without a doubt, it would be to seek out and find good mentors. I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with, and for, some extraordinary people that have guided and encouraged me along the way. You don’t have to wait to be part of a formal program. Mentors are everywhere. Take the time to actively build your support network — there will be times that you need them.
Talking about sexism and equality in the workplace is difficult, but it's important. Has being a woman impacted your experience in your career?
I think it’s important to recognize in the work place that we are all individuals with unique backgrounds, personalities, personal lives, etc. Unfortunately, I have encountered occasions during my career where a colleague or customer may not have considered my perspective simply because I am a woman. As I mentioned above, being able to seek advice from a diverse group of mentors has been helpful in these situations. I have made sure that I have both men and women as mentors, and I use them for guidance in different areas, personal and professional.