In The News

March 31, 2021

Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Melanie Muise

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?

#Choosetochallenge is a call to action, a call to speak up and speak out about diversity, inclusion and gender equality at work.

Is your current role what you expected to be doing when you started in the workforce? How did it change? Tell us about your journey.

As Navacord’s COO, I have a tremendous opportunity to #choosetochallenge. I’ve been the only women in the room throughout most of my career, and I’m happy to say that’s changed a lot recently. Women make up more than half of the insurance sector and that stat is starting to catch up in leadership and executive roles as well.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

I have faced the same discrimination that all women have as I’ve progressed in my career and I’ve focused on 3 things to overcome them: Firstly, have a strong and active mentor, mentee and allyship community to talk to. Secondly, build resilience by accepting what you can and can’t control in difficult situations. You can’t control someone else’s behaviours, but you are in full control of your own responses and actions both during and after the fact. Third, involve men in the conversation. This has been critical for me personally, by inviting men to the table, we create more advocates who can #choosetochallenge with us.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?

Have a plan but be willing to diverge from it for an opportunity to learn and grow. I started as a sales agent on the night shift of a personal lines direct writer in Ottawa, and ended up as a COO of the 4th largest commercial brokerage in Canada, based in Toronto. I could never have foreseen that career path but I had a growth mindset and have enjoyed every role I’ve had in the industry.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

COVID has highlighted the importance of women supporting each other. Many of us have gone through unique career challenges during the pandemic and now more than ever we have a tremendous opportunity to encourage each other, root for each other, #choosetochallenge to create more equality in the workforce post pandemic.

March 23, 2021

Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Jing Wang

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?

It means continued awareness to me. Though we have come a long way to where we are today, there is still more to do. We should never stand still.

You’re currently, VP Finance at Navacord. Is this role what you expected to be in when you started in the workforce? How did it change? Tell us about your journey.

I got thrown into the Insurance industry when I started my public audit days with a big insurance company as my largest client, and it’s been quite the journey!

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

The biggest barrier I have had to overcome is myself. Be bold enough to ask for things that you need to build yourself up for success, being strong enough to ask for help, and being confident enough to know your worth. I have been lucky to have both incredible men and women support me in my career!

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?

There’s a lot more women in this industry now than you think! Be bold, be brave, be yourself!

March 23, 2021

Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Hailey Taskey

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?

Break barriers, do things that would never be expected, push out of your comfort zone and grab success.

Your current job is _________. Is this role what you expected to be in when you started in the workforce? How did it
change? Tell us about your journey.

Partner/Senior Advisor. Not what I expected, it was the role I was always working towards, but when I started in the industry it felt so far away with many barriers in the way. I originally wanted to be a dentist, and I started in the insurance industry by answering phones and decided to not go back to university and work my way up. I then moved into an assistant role, then account management role and so on. I never settled for where I was, I always wanted more and failure was not an option. Lots of hard work and lessons along the way, but you can always get to where you want to be with hard work.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

I was really young when I started in the industry. This along with being a woman made it difficult to be taken seriously. It took a long time to become an expert in what I do, understanding how to work with people, relate to them as well as be great in our industry. I still have these challenges today, but when you get the chance to prove your expertise, and experience, peoples perceptions change. I have built some very solid relationships based on my knowledge and the way I work with people. Working to change perception is always tough, but all worth it.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?

The opportunities are endless in this industry. There is always something to learn, and areas to advance your career. Hard work will get you to where you want to be.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

There is not enough support between women in business. We are a strong force that has the ability to bring success and different perspective to all areas of business. When we work together, we can make anything happen. Having women supporting each other, creates an unstoppable force.

March 19, 2021

Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Erin Gunn

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?

Challenge stereotypes, challenge expectations, challenge the status quo. You cannot be in the passenger seat of your own career. It is one thing to work hard and demonstrate expertise, but you cannot wait for someone to ask—you put your hand up and say you want it.

Your current job is Vice President, Client Experience. Is this role what you expected to be in when you started in the workforce? How did it change? Tell us about your journey.

Vice President, Client Experience. Yes, my goal was always to be in a leadership position, and I am not finished yet.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

Ambitious and assertive women are viewed differently than men. When I encountered bias in the workplace, I challenged those perceptions head on and it was entirely worthwhile. By working hard, demonstrating leadership, and believing in myself, I have advanced to hold senior leadership positions at a top insurance carrier and similarly so at Dehoney Financial Group.

Recently, I heard a quote specific to the pandemic. “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on superyachts. Some have just the one oar.” (Damian Barr) The same can be said for the barriers women face. They can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors. It is incredibly important that we all work together to remove gender bias as a roadblock to career advancement for women.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?

There is a ton of opportunity in our industry. It is incumbent on those of us already here to welcome new entrants and provide career paths for those looking to join.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

It is extremely important for women to champion other women and to celebrate each other’s success—we can lift each other up. “Empowered women, empower women.” However, this message is not just for women, we need to embrace inclusivity for all and work collaboratively for the betterment of our teams and the entire industry.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I look forward to the day when we no longer need International Women’s Day. A time when we’ll all be considered equal and recognize our similarities rather than our differences.

March 16, 2021

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.

March 11, 2021

Celebrating Navacord’s Remarkable Women – Danielle Gorst

 

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #Choosetochallenge mean for you in your work life?

It means we celebrate the achievement of women within Navacord and the insurance industry as a whole, constantly challenging gender inequality and biases.

Your current job is Financial Lines Practice Leader for Navacord. Is this role what you expected to be in when you started in the workforce? How did it change? Tell us about your journey.

This role was designed for me and allowed me the opportunity to create and develop the role over the past two years with the support of Navacord’s leadership.

What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

As a working mom of two beautiful children I took maternity leaves with both my children, and each time feeling as though I lost of year of progress within the organization in terms of salary increases/profit sharing, and potential lost opportunities that came up while I was on leave. I quickly overcame these barriers with open dialogue with my employers who were also making great strides in gender equality at the time. Working hard, showing your worth, using your voice, and having supportive and progressive employers were all key pieces to overcoming these barriers.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering jumping into the insurance industry?

Having been in the insurance industry for over 20 years I recognize the difference women have made in this field. Some of the top organizations are lead by females who have mentored and supported me throughout my career. The insurance industry has also proven to be a very stable and prosperous industry even in an economic downturn like 2020. Jobs are plentiful as a new entrants to the industry or seasoned professionals!

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

There have been many moments in my career where I felt I needed to be picked up and it was in those moments I was supported by wonderful women around me in my personal life and professional life. The truth is “when women support each other, incredible things happen.”