Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Lucy Sousa
What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?
Continue to challenge yourself to be the best version of yourself.
Is your role what you expected to be doing when you started in the workforce? How did it
change? Tell us about your journey.
No, this is not the role I expected to be in when I started in the workforce. I began my career in Personal
insurance. After many years I began working as a commercial account manager. I joined JDIMI in 1993, started as a commercial account manager and began taking on some of Account Executive role. I was fortunate that I always had the respect and support of my colleagues which allowed me to be successful, become a partner of the firm and enjoy a fabulous career.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
When I began in the business, it was predominantly men that held account executive rolls. As the world and our industry evolved, more and more women hold account executive and partnership roles. I became the first female partner at JDIMI. It did not come without frustration but persistence pays off. My favourite story is one where I went to a client meeting and I was transitioning to an account executive roll but the male account executive who handled the account previously was still involved this particular year. When we were ready to begin the meeting, which I had prepared everything for, the client asked if I could leave the room so they could talk “man to man”. I was more surprised than anything else but I was also very mad but I got up and left the room. A couple of weeks later the client called me and said “I think I have this all figured out, you’re the one who knows what’s happening with our account and you’re the one who does everything”. I told him that I knew he’d figure it out eventually. We had a great relationship after that.
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?
Don’t just assume you’re going to stay in an administrative roll. Continue to improve yourself, taking the necessary courses, taking risks. One of our challenges as women is taking time out of the workforce to have children and many times being the main person dealing with sick children, school schedules etc. It’s important that your spouse is also on side and willing to share the responsibility.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Women supporting women is key. We understand what the other is going through. It has always meant a lot to me to have my female colleagues say how great it was that I became partner.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Many women who want to have successful careers and a family have a hard time balancing both. I know that for me it was the
biggest challenge. I always felt extremely guilty that I didn’t spend more time at home with the kids, had to leave them with
grandparents when they were sick etc. I was very fortunate because I worked for Bob Jones & Rick DesLauriers at the time and both had young children as well and their wives worked. They knew that I struggled with the guilt and one day I came into work and there was information on by desk about a seminar for women, I can’t remember everything about it but it was called something like “Briefcase in one hand, guilt in the other”. There were thousands of women in attendance and so many of us felt the same way. I think this was a defining moment for me, I didn’t have to feel guilty after all. Our current leader Eric is fantastic as well – he has a young family and a spouse with a career so he knows all about the juggling that’s required.