Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of this special day, we’re excited to share a new Women’s History Month series featuring a few of the amazing female leaders we’re lucky to have as a part of our Bearingstar Insurance family — to kick things off, we’d like to introduce you to our Chief Operating Officer, Kim Kennedy!
Kim values that Bearingstar Insurance, along with Arbella Insurance, have been role models in the insurance industry for years in terms of supporting female leadership: “I find being a woman in a leadership role at Bearingstar wonderfully normal and positively not unique, that’s what makes it so fantastic! We have had so many women in leadership roles at every level, and it’s been that way for a long time. When I joined Bearingstar, I didn’t feel like I stood out as a woman because for a long time, they have hired strong leadership talent, whoever that may be.”
Kim joined Arbella Insurance as AVP of Operations in June 2013, and moved into her role as Bearingstar Insurance COO in December 2015. “It’s a real testament to both Arbella and Bearingstar in terms of how they help employees grow. If you reveal a new way you can contribute to the organization’s overall success, they are ready to recognize it and help you leverage that to grow professionally.”
As COO, Kim has a range of responsibilities at Bearingstar, all focused on supporting her staff in delivering the best possible consultative sales and service experiences to clients each and every day: “I work with all of our managers across our 16 locations in MA and CT and together, we are responsible for growing Arbella profitably.”
In terms of leadership, Kim and Bearingstar’s values are pretty simple: “We believe that if we take care of our employees and provide an agency environment that supports them and that they truly want to be a part of, they will in turn be more able to deliver that excellence to their customers.”
Kim left us with some empowering advice for other women in the workforce:
“Attempting to be someone you’re not is never sustainable. Instead, be your authentic self and be true to who are you are, but always work to be the best version of yourself.”
“Be clear in what you want and what makes you happy. Know who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re capable of.”
“Advocate for yourself while making sure you’re always doing the work — don’t expect things to come to you.”
“Go into things with a sense of wholeheartedness. I strongly recommend women indulge in things like Ted Talks or books by authors such as Brené Brown that can help them tap into things they can go deeper on.”
“Be vulnerable — a lot of people view this as a weakness, but it’s essential to becoming a good, authentic leader. People appreciate a person who is relatable.”
“And here’s a big one on work life balance — we’re not superhuman! It’s easy to worry about not spending enough time with family when you’re at work, and then to worry about work when you’re spending time with your family. Instead, just realize that you can only do one thing at a time, so just do that one thing with excellence. When I’m at work, I’m giving work my full and undivided attention. When I’m home, I put the laptop away and try to be fully present for my children so I can give them all of me.”
For anyone feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone: “I still have a long way to go when it comes to making time for myself. I think the holy grail is figuring out how to be present for everyone who needs you — how to have time for your kids, your partner, your friends, your work but to also have time for self-reflection.”
We’ll leave you with one last piece of advice from Kim: “Be intentional about how you spend your time. A lot of us get our time taken away in all sorts of ways — you blink an eye and the day is over and you haven’t finished everything you wanted to. To combat this, you really have to be more aware of who and what are taking up your time.”
Thanks for the words of wisdom, Kim!
It’s time for the next installment of our #WomensHistoryMonth series — this week we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Casalone, our Inside Sales Manager!
Jennifer has been a member of the our team for almost 10 years now, and really values the supportive environment at Bearingstar: “Our team is so incredible. There are so many people who I could pick up the phone and rely and count on, and most corporations aren’t like that. This is the Bearingstar family because that’s what we are — a family!”
She also appreciates how other leaders at Bearingstar have helped her grow: “I started out as a customer service representative, but my managers at Bearingstar saw a lot of potential in me that I didn’t even recognize myself at the time. They really listened and saw that I had the potential to move from customer service to sales, and eventually to being a leader on the sales team. They pushed me and encouraged me because they knew I could do it — it’s really had such an impact on my entire life!”
The support Jennifer feels everyday at work is also something that motivates her as a leader: “I want to be able to do for others what my managers at Bearingstar did for me. I think that seeing those qualities and strengths in your people and helping them recognize it and have confidence in themselves is part of what makes a leader great! I’ve been lucky to work with some tremendous people who have been amazing mentors and who have not only noticed qualities that I bring to the table, but have also helped me cultivate them so I can do the same for the people I lead.”
Jennifer’s background also played a huge role in shaping who she is today. Even with a double major and double minor in college, she didn’t feel like she was being challenged, which led her to join the Navy: “It was absolutely amazing and challenging in so many ways! I learned so much about other cultures and people and gained a huge appreciation for things I was taking for granted.” The relationships she formed during her service were also very important to her: “The bonds and friendships you make while serving can never be severed. These people become your family and your support system, especially when you have to be far away from your family for such long periods of time.”
Beyond being a veteran and an insurance professional, Jennifer is also a single mother. She works very hard to be a strong role model for her daughter: “I want her to be strong and independent and to be able to take on the world with confidence, while also being compassionate and having humility. I’d like her to be able to follow in my footsteps of making a mark in the world and feeling like she’s made a difference.”
Jennifer’s hard work and dedication make her a true inspiration. We’ll leave you with some of her tips for other women in the workplace:
“You have to be patient, success is not something that’s going to happen overnight. Seeing that growth or that promotion is something that takes time and persistence.”
“There’s always an opportunity to grow and learn. You should never be at a point where you’re not pushing yourself to be better or looking for opportunities to challenge yourself.”
“Identify your support circle of people who are not only your peers, but also potential mentors — people who you trust and who will help elevate you, and who you can also help elevate.”
This week, we’d like to introduce you to Debra Simpson, our Commercial Lines and Life Service Manager! In her role as a manager, Debra oversees a team whose main responsibility is ensuring that customers get everything they need when they work with Bearingstar: “There are a lot of different moving parts, but everything is time-sensitive and everything needs to be intentional.”
Debra truly enjoys seeing so many women in leadership positions at Bearingstar: “My background is in the financial industry, and for the most part, the senior leaders there were mostly men. Seeing so many women in senior management roles is so impressive and motivating. You don’t get the feeling here that there is a glass ceiling — you see that our COO is a woman and know that there is hope and room for you to grow as well!”
Beyond being a source of inspiration, other female leaders at Bearingstar have also helped foster a sense of community for Debra: “The women here are really good at mentoring and being there for you if you ever need anything. I’ve found that to be very helpful!”
We’ll leave you with some sage advice from Debra:
“Have goals and stay focused. Know that you can do anything.”
“Don’t let other people define you or tell you who you are or what you can do. You have to define yourself.”
“Learn the business, work hard, and continue to develop yourself professionally.”
“Put in the time and work and you’ll see the fruits of your labor, even if it doesn’t happen overnight.”
“Always get feedback on what you can do better, and then actually take action on it!”
For the last installment of our #WomensHistoryMonth series, we’d like to introduce you to Claudia, the amazing team manager for our Duxbury and Brockton locations!
Claudia started working in the insurance industry as a customer service representative in 2004. She worked hard and continued to learn and grow, transitioning to a senior customer service representative and eventually becoming a team manager in 2013.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have great support from my managers. I’ve never felt that because I am a female, my voice has not been heard. That’s something I really love — there’s an equal opportunity for everyone here!”
As a manager, Claudia’s focus is on empowering her employees: “It’s human nature, if you’re happy, you’ll have the energy and motivation to be engaged in your work. I think keeping my team motivated is so important. I focus on being open and honest, and making myself available when they need my assistance or support — I want to make sure they wake up every morning and are excited to come into work!”
Here are her tips for other women in the workplace:
If you want to learn and are eager to broaden your knowledge base, doors and opportunities will open for you.
Never be afraid to ask questions or share your thoughts — especially if you have a strong opinion about something.
Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Be confident! Your tone of voice can make a big difference so speak up and speak with confidence.
Women should always work to support one another and build each other up!
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