"Technology provides the ability to work from anywhere, but it can also make it challenging to unplug," says independent agent Marena Malcolm. "I try to be intentional with my time spent with family and friends."
Currently Streaming: “The Flight Attendant"
In your earbuds: My playlist varies from Justin Bieber to Randy Rogers to The Eagles
Preferred social media: Instagram
How did you get started in insurance?
I worked at a captive agency as a secretary in college, just taking payments and answering phones. I really didn't think that my end game would be insurance. I was a marketing major and didn't feel like insurance was my career path. Oddly enough, I played in an intermural football game with a bunch of the insurance leaders in our community. After that football game, my now boss offered me an internship at the local independent agency. After switching to the independent agent side, I found it to be more fast-paced and that better suited my interests.
What do you love about insurance?
Building relationships with my clients. You can always dig a little deeper to connect with them. Even if it's just a phone conversation where they want to change a vehicle or have a question about a payment, you have to take the time to build those relationships. I think that's a key piece some people miss.
What's the best thing about being an independent insurance agent?
You can tailor coverages to fit customer needs. As a captive agent, I just worked with whatever product the company had. But as an independent agent, I can provide the right blend of pricing and coverages. Another thing I love about our agency is that we've always excelled in the customer service aspect. We go above and beyond.
I also love the amount of community involvement that being an independent insurance agent brings. You have to plant yourself in the community, which increases your ability to reach more people. I work closely with our local chamber of commerce and we have a downtown insurance network that I'm involved in. If someone's looking to get more involved in their community, those are where I would recommend reaching out.
Advice for other young agents?
Being involved in volunteer opportunities has really helped my career. I sit on the Emerging Leaders Board for the Big I Arkansas eMerging Leaders Committee and we've partnered with Sunshine Therapeutic Riding Center in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Big I Arkansas has opened doors that otherwise wouldn't have been opened. The networking and knowledge that I've gained—you can't put a price on that.
How is the work-life balance in your role?
Technology provides the ability to work from anywhere, but it can also make it challenging to unplug. I try to be intentional with my time spent with family and friends. I'm a firm believer that work-life balance increases productivity and improves mental wellbeing. But you do really have to be mindful—sometimes I catch myself checking emails and the kids are like, “What are you doing? Is that a work call?" And that reminds me to put my phone down. However, just this week I was home with a sick kid, and the technology allowed me to keep up with my job but still be a mom.
What are the pros and cons of multiple generations in the workplace?
There are more pros than cons. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other would be the biggest pro. I had a mentor here with a wealth of knowledge, but he still used paper books and files, files, files and more files. I was like, “Oh my gosh, we have to scan all this in!" But I learned from him and he learned from me. I learned that sometimes it's good to keep things the way they've been done, and he learned that sometimes it's okay to bring new technology or different ideas. Everyone has to adapt. Nobody's going to be happy if you come in and just want to do things your way.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.