Ryan Jones CIC ranks high among Wisconsin CSRs
The July 2016 issue of Wisconsin Professional Agents Highlights, the newsletter of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (PIAW) announced the winner of it's annual Outstanding CSR of the Year in Wisconsin and The Starr Group's Ryan Jones, CIC was among the top 5 candidates! The award acknowledges dedication, ability, commitment and outstanding achievement. Candidates are nominated by their supervisors and are required to submit an essay on a topic related to their positions as Customer Service Representatives in the Insurance industry. This year's topic was: "Many in our industry came into insurance by chance, but have built a career by choice. How did you come into the industry and what are four reasons you stayed and built a career?"
While Ryan's entry was not selected as the top winner, there is speculation that the race was very close. Brenda Steinbach, Education and Convention Director for PIAW sent a note of congratulations to Ryan: "I want to compliment you on your achievements and the effort put forth in your submission. It is my hope you will enter the 2017 competition." Ryan is a CSR of the highest caliber and The Starr Group is very proud of his professional accomplishments as a Commercial Account Manager. Here is Ryan's essay:
After graduating from a small college in northern Virginia, I took a job at a computer consulting firm just outside of Washington, D.C., in January of 2000. As luck would have it, I got engaged to a girl from Wisconsin later that year, and after many conversations, I made the decision to move to the Milwaukee area so that she could be close to her family after we were married. I arrived in January of 2001 to very cold temperatures, a lot of snow and not knowing anyone outside of my future in-laws.
When I started looking for employment, I saw a job opening for an underwriting assistant position at a multi-line insurance company that piqued my interest. At the time, I knew nothing about insurance, but the job description and the possibility of working at a mysterious “multi-line” (what is that?) company appealed to me. I was hired and started my career in insurance as an underwriting assistant in February of 2001. After a couple of months on the job, I was thinking to myself that I had hit the jackpot and would eventually retire from my current employer. Instead, I found out that I was being down-sized, and that most of this branch was going to be closed by the end of the year. While there was certainly a somber tone in the office, the company and my co-workers were extremely supportive during this time, and even helped me land my next job.
I started as an underwriting assistant at a mono-line work comp company in September of 2001. While the previous office that I worked at had around 50 employees and had a Milwaukee presence for many years, my new company had only been in the state for a year, and I was the 9th employee to be hired. I would be with this company for the next six years, and would experience many new things during this time, such as buying my first house and welcoming three beautiful children into my family. Roughly six months into the job, I was promoted to a field underwriter position and would function as both an underwriter and a marketing rep. This was a great time in my life. I had a company car, went on a lot of business trips around the country, attended a lot of sporting events, wrote a lot of business and got to know many great customers and agents (one of whom would play a key role in my life later down the line). While this lifestyle was fantastic when I was newly married, it became more challenging as I started having kids. When I missed my oldest daughter’s 3rd birthday, I knew that I wanted to set out on a different path.
I actually left the industry at the beginning of 2008 and took a position as a system administrator for a large bank. It was my thought that this career choice would cut down on my windshield time and allow me to be with my family more. After a year and a half, however, I realized that I missed being a part of the insurance industry that I had left. I continued to keep in touch with many agents that I had worked with over the years, and one of them actually contacted me out of the blue one day to ask me if I knew of anyone who might be interested in a commercial account manager position within their agency. Being intrigued with working on the agency side, I asked, “How about me?”
A few days later, I was interviewing with the agency’s management team. At one point, the owner of the agency actually tried to discourage me from pursuing the position, suggesting that I might be bored and unfulfilled if I took the job, since it was so much different than my marketing days of field underwriting. I disagreed with his assertion, and after both sides gave it some thought, my current employer decided to take a chance on me. My first job in an agency started in September of 2009. Six and a half years, a bigger house, and three more children later, I could not be any happier. I am back in the insurance family, in a position that is more conducive to my current station in life and one in which I am fulfilled both professionally and personally.
As I look back on my career up to this point, I admit that while I never had dreams of working in insurance while I was growing up, I have been very blessed by having the good fortune to fall into this field of work. Although there are many reasons that I have stayed and built a career in insurance, there are four main reasons that come to mind. First, the industry is so varied that it has been able to evolve with me as my life and circumstances have changed over the years, since the possible career paths are innumerable. Second, you never stop learning in this field, and excellent educational opportunities abound. Family and friends who are outside of the industry are often surprised at how much I enjoy continuing education classes. Third, we often hear that insurance is a relationship business, and I have forged meaningful relationships over the years with a number of individuals in the industry. I am proud to call these people my friends, mentors and role models. They truly care about my well-being, and they provide me with a network of love and support. Lastly, I sincerely enjoy striving to provide excellent customer service to our clients. In my opinion, customer service is more than just performing tasks and answering questions. Instead, excellent customer service means caring enough about each client to make sure that their issues get resolved to the best of my ability. In the end, being an account manager provides me with the opportunity to help others each and every day, which is a very rewarding experience. So, in summary, while I indeed came into insurance by chance, I have solid reasons for continuing to stay by choice.
As my youngest daughter turns three this summer, I will be right by her side as she blows out her candles, and I have my amazing career in insurance to thank for that gift!