Life Insurance

From Olympic hopeful to CSO at Marsh & McLennan Agency

After graduating from university, Reeves took a job with an insurance agency, where she was selected to take part in an educational Partnership Producer Program, sponsored by The St. Paul Companies, which is now part of Travelers. She was the only female of the 10 selected candidates, and she chose to focus her insurance and risk management education around the technology and life sciences sectors.

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In the early 1990s, the agency Reeves worked for was acquired by Marsh, where she then honed her skills as a producer for over a decade before being offered a leadership role as managing director, San Diego office head & pacific south sales leader in 2001. She stayed in that position until 2006, when she decided to “get back to what [she] loved” and refocus on sales.

She joined a long-standing San Diego-based insurance brokerage called Barney & Barney, where she led the sales operation and helped the firm more than double in size within seven years. In 2010, Reeves was named chief sales officer for the West region, and four years later, Barney & Barney was acquired by Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA). In December 2020, she was promoted to chief sales officer for the entire MMA organization, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh, serving the risk prevention and insurance needs of middle market companies in North America.

“Thinking about my career as a salesperson and as a former athlete, I’m a very competitive person and I’ve always had a very strong work ethic. I believe that’s what has made me successful in sales,” said Reeves. “When I was in my 20s selling to 50-year-old men who had their golfing buddy handling their insurance, I really had to out-hustle them. I had to have excellent technical insurance skills in order to convince people to work with me.

“Now that I’m in a leadership role, my focus has shifted. It’s more about strategy, navigating the changes that are happening in the market, and setting our producers up for success. A big part of my job now is talent development. It’s not about being a lone producer; it’s about making our team of over 1,600 producers countrywide the best they can be.”

The national chief sales officer role is a new position within MMA and is reflective of the firm’s wider strategy of building a nationwide footprint of producers that are loyal to their local markets and provide high-touch service to clients, while also having access to centralized leadership, support, expertise, resources, and sales training and development.

“We’re able to offer Fortune 50 levels of service to our middle market clients – that’s what differentiates MMA,” said Reeves. “We’re a very responsive organization and we provide a wide range of value-added resources and services to clients in addition to taking care of their insurance and benefits needs. We have a saying internally around providing ‘the best of both worlds,’ which means that we want to be the local broker and take care of people in our local communities in the way that they want to be taken care of, but we also have access to the resources, technology, data and analytics of the world’s largest broker. We have the best of both worlds, and we’re able to deliver that to our clients.”

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In her new national role, Reeves has big plans for MMA, including a goal to double the revenue of the firm within eight years, a target she hopes to achieve primarily through organic growth. These ambitious growth plans will require a keen eye on talent development and recruitment, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives, which are all things that Reeves has advocated for throughout her career.

As a mom of two and a woman in the male-dominated realm of insurance sales, Reeves has made a very concerted effort to hire and promote more women in producer roles. She says it is “possible (if there is such a thing) to achieve a good work-life balance in the insurance industry” with the right mindset and the right support.

Reeves was instrumental in the creation of MMA’s GROW (Growth, Relationships and Opportunities for Women) program back in 2010, which is a women’s initiative focused on attracting, retaining, educating and supporting women within the firm. Since its founding, GROW has expanded significantly – both in terms of membership and scope of personal and professional programs offered – to the extent that it is now a key differentiator in why women choose to work for MMA.

In recent years, MMA has also made great strides in DE&I, launching several Colleague Resource Groups, which again facilitate critical mentorship and allyship programs. Reeves added: “It has been proven that organizations that are more diverse tend to perform better. We want to mirror what the communities and clients that we serve look like, and they’ve been excited to hear about the DE&I programs that we’ve launched. It’s also vital for talent development and recruitment. People want DE&I, and they want to ensure that it’s not just lip service and that companies are actually living it.” 

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