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My Entire Career Was Shaped By My “Most Impactful Mentor”

There’s nothing more powerful than a dedicated mentor.

That’s what Rebecca Roberts, associate vice president and managing director at Burns & Wilcox will tell you.

She was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor at the start of her career, who helped young Roberts find her feet on the road to insurance success.
More than 25 years later, and Roberts is one of Insurance Business America’s Top Specialist Brokers 2018.

She has expertise in: auto liability, physical damage, cargo, and excess and umbrella policies related to trucking, public auto, dump trucks, tow trucks and general commercial auto exposures.

Since Joining Burns & Wilcox, Roberts has built out the company’s auto liability offerings in the Midwest. Her efforts have netted her team multiple awards, including the state and national Professional Insurance Agents MGA of the Year Award.

In addition to her role at Burns & Wilcox, Roberts teaches continuing education courses and currently sits on the boards of directors for the Motor Carrier Insurance Education Foundation and Brendanwood Financial Brokerage.

We caught up with the commercial transportation specialist, to find out more about her journey to success.

How did you get started in the industry?

Early in my insurance career I had the good fortune of working for a woman by the name of Dar Setters. She was an experienced insurance professional that specialized in the transportation (wheels) business.

As my first and most impactful mentor, she placed a strong emphasis on education, networking and underwriting standards. Because of her, I developed a curiosity about transportation insurance that shaped my entire career.

What are the best parts of your job?

In addition to the relationships I have fostered and building a profitable product line, mentoring and developing talent is one of the best parts of my job. At some point in our career, all of us had someone who invested in us. If I can help set a strong foundation to place someone’s career trajectory on the right path, it feels like I am giving back.

What challenges have you faced in your role?

Talent acquisition continues to be a challenge that everyone in the insurance industry faces. At Burns & Wilcox, we have set high standards for the professionals we hire.

That’s why, when we have the right talent, we take the time to give them continuing education opportunities through the Kaufman Institute, Kaufman Emerging Leadership Program (KELP), and Kaufman Advanced Management Program (KAMP).

In the spirit of helping our teams grow, we use a goal-setting program that breaks complex goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. This allows my team to be strategic and intentional with what they want to accomplish. This dedication to people has helped us grow and retain top talent.

What have you learned from your current place of work?

Teamwork is something that is inherently built into the culture of Burns & Wilcox.

In previous industry roles, I have had to wear a lot of hats at times. At Burns & Wilcox, there are so many resources to rely on that it has afforded me more time to build on my strengths and perform better overall. With a focused mindset, I have become much more impactful.

What advice would you give to someone working their way up the insurance ladder?

It is extremely important to take advantage of any education benefits that the employer offers.

If the company offers to pay for industry designations, continuing education, and association memberships, take full advantage.

Secondly, find a mentor that epitomizes where you want to be with your career in 10 years and emulate their every move.

Lastly, be punctual, highly visible at industry events, and, when possible, volunteer for extra work assignments. The extra effort will help you stand out to high-level decision makers.

If you weren’t working in insurance, what would you be doing?

I would be a lawyer. The legal aspects of insurance are very interesting to me. The wording on legally-binding contracts and how those words are examined in claims scenarios are fascinating.

What is your favorite hobby?

Boating, hiking, flower gardening, and listening to live music are all things I love to do outside of work.

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