Updated: Nov 16, 2018
One woman featured who is a woman in the workplace
who are they - what do they do - why you should know them
Andrea Hadlington is a registered insurance broker specializing in Small Business Insurance at CCV Insurance & Financial Services in Halton Hills, ON. She enjoys travelling and supporting local businesses through her women's networking group.
What is your story? What do you do and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
Born in Brampton ON, I grew up overseas travelling extensively due to my father’s role in the diplomatic corps. I left Dalhousie University without my BComm in ’97 after yet another gap year and went to college for a diploma in travel agency operations when I returned to Ontario in 1998.
After working in corporate travel for 5 successful, trip- infused years, getting married, buying 2 homes and having two amazing kids, it came down to juggling all of that at 28 years old. At this point, I was working part-time at a travel agency in the evening and supplementing income by driving a school bus during the day to make ends meet. I started to feel deflated and lost while my friends appeared to be so successful in their “amazing” careers and seemingly jet-setting all over the world.
In 2006 an opportunity to work in insurance literally knocked on my door. Neighbours moved in next door who were opening an insurance agency in Georgetown and asked if I wanted to help set up the office to be close to home. So I took a chance and got my general insurance, life insurance and mutual funds licenses all in one year and spent over 7 years selling all those products, managing the office, its community involvement and marketing.
It was during this time that I co-founded the Cornerstone Professional Women’s Association with Sara Haines. We had been networking actively but weren’t finding the right fit for us. So as a result of identifying a need for a safe space for professional women and entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s to network, Cornerstone exploded into one of the most successful women’s group in our area. Things were really going well.
Suffice it to say, I suddenly found myself burnt out and in late 2013 I took an opportunity (through networking) to change roles within the insurance industry. I became the Director of Marketing Communications at CCV Insurance and Financial Services while maintaining my insurance licenses. This was a great experience in which I have had the good fortune to connect with so many incredible organizations and people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Ironically this change of focus led me back to insurance sales. After having the time to work on the other side of the fence, gain more knowledge and earn an industry designation, I realized that my calling was working with and supporting small business owners.
What is your secret sauce to success?
The secret is simple……network! Get involved in networking groups with like minded people. If you can’t find one, start one. It takes years to build but once you have your trusted circle, the resources and lead opportunities are endless.
What are your strategies on avoiding burnouts?
Setting aside at least one day a week to not check email, social media or take business related calls. You have to disconnect completely, especially on vacation. You need it and your family needs it. Having amazing colleagues or answering services are invaluable when you need to decompress. I also read completely random works of literature to keep my mind focused on something else when I am stumped..
If you could work or move your career anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Austria. It`s orderly, clean and gets to the point.
Give one valuable piece of advice you can give women on how to overcome challenges in the workplace.
If we are talking gender-based challenges, my advice is to be feisty – not sassy. Don’t be afraid to get involved in a conversation with men where you feel the need to be heard; and at the same time, be strategic in aligning yourself with men in the workplace/industry who appreciate your contributions and who provide genuine mentorship.
What's the worst and best thing about being female?
Worst thing – believing bad hair days can ruin you. Best thing – high heels one day, steel-toed boots the next.
What are you most passionate about and what do you wish you were more passionate about?
Travel….I grew up overseas, moving a lot! Having toured, lived and worked in so many diverse regions leaves me craving change of scenery, witnessing historical sites and experiencing different cultures. I wish I was more passionate about digital organizing tools. I love my white board tri-month calendar and my planner… that you write in…with a pen.
One quote you live by
As per my high school class of ’95 yearbook entry “Life’s a journey, not a destination” – Aerosmith
What is one piece of valuable advice you would give someone who wants to get into your field?
Be organized, responsive and always keep educating yourself. Successful insurance brokers don’t just sell insurance. We are indispensable business partners, risk managers, business continuity planners, income protection advisers, claims adjusters and creative frontline underwriters.
If you could broadcast one sentence to every cellphone, tv channel and radio in the world and have it translated to each country's language. What sentence would you say?
`”Fire negative people from your life”
What is one resource you can share that has been beneficial to your job or career?
EdX – https://www.edx.org/ continuing education site. Keep educating yourself with new stuff related to your industry, as well be open to learning totally different things from what you do. Refresher courses are great to get back to basics. They are inexpensive and convenient, and to my surprise, a few that I did turned out to be equivalent to courses I needed for designations that I am working on. Bonus!
A random stranger told me...
Listen to people. Focus your undivided attention and just listen to the person you are communicating with. If you take the time to develop active listening skills by learning to avoid distractions and pay attention to body language, you will be shocked about how much more aware you are of the people in your life, or the people you want in your circle. Building authentic relationships with clients, suppliers and prospects happen naturally when you pay attention to what they are saying and engage in their true interests. Long lasting connections are built on trust.
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