"It takes the human element and an in-depth knowledge of our client’s business to creatively solve their challenges," says young agent Andrew Silva. "The wall we’re trying to break down is proving we’re not just a line item on their expense books, but a member of the team."
Financial Risk Management
Go-to drink order: Iced coffee
Desired superpower: Time travel
Favorite candy: Sunflower seeds
Why did you choose insurance as a career?
I didn't have any visibility into the industry growing up, no family members, friends, or colleagues in insurance. I graduated from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in 2010, and everyone was still dealing with the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. I knew I needed to think outside the box. One of my now colleagues from Woodruff Sawyer posted an opening at the agency on a graduate email chain, so I applied.
Throughout the interview process, everyone I spoke to talked about the opportunity and Woodruff Sawyer's desire to bring in younger voices. That sold me. Today, I'm in the Management Liability practice, managing Directors and Officer's (D&O) insurance for my clients.
I was the youngest guy there at first, but I realized my competitive advantage while working with tech companies. I understood the technology, used some of those apps every day, and was able to identify and understand the tech being developed here. Woodruff Sawyer gave me those opportunities and fast-tracked me by letting me take on challenges.
Mentoring the next generation?
Every year since I've graduated, I've gone down to Cal Poly and presented for the finance club on behalf of Woodruff Sawyer about the sector as a whole and different lines of coverage. My message to them is you can create your own path in the insurance industry because it's changing every day.
Biggest industry challenges?
With the potential economic crisis, a lot of companies are really focused on cost-cutting and looking to automate insurance. But every day in the news there's a new headline about a company failure, bank failure or natural disaster. With so much going on, it takes the human element and an in-depth knowledge of our client's business to creatively solve their challenges. The wall we're trying to break down is proving we're not just a line item on their expense books, but a member of the team.
Millennial and Gen Z stereotypes?
Just because you're coming from a younger generation doesn't mean you can't handle a lot of responsibility early on in your career. New generations are very eager to learn. The good news is there's a lot of room for hungry and creative minds coming into the industry.
Future of the industry?
It's only going to continue to grow. If you look at the past five years, cyber insurance wasn't discussed very often. Today, it's a must for any business. And now, new uses for artificial intelligence have exploded onto the marketplace, and we can anticipate there will be 1000s of business uses for it in the future. Innovative companies require risk mitigation and a strong partner to help them protect their new ideas and business models. Insurance isn't going away; it will remain a vital part of business planning as the world and businesses continue to evolve.
Pros and cons of multiple generations in the workplace?
With hybrid working here to stay and the ongoing introduction of new communication and organizational tools, there will always be challenges with adoption. The pro is that there's much more collaboration and different viewpoints – I work with colleagues who have been at Woodruff Sawyer for 20+ years, are experts in their fields and have a ton of knowledge to share. When it comes to creative problem-solving, it's a huge benefit.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.