How did a 16-year-old end up working in an insurance office?
By Desmond Devoy
How do you make an impression as a woman in insurance, become one of the people in the office, and expand and enrich your career?
Kathy Quintana (pictured), Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HUB California, is ready to help you accelerate your career this fall.
Quintana will be part of a fireside talk titled “Accelerating Your Career: The Latest in Skills and Development” at the Women in Insurance conference to be held at the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles on October 5. For more details and registration, please follow the link.
Her part of the discussion will also focus on mentorship, diversity and inclusion — in fact, at the time of her interview with the insurance company, she had just returned from New York, where she had been honored by the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) as the 2023 Inclusion Champion at the IICF World Insurance Inclusion Conference.
“I’m a lifelong learner. I’m not done yet!” She said. “Women in insurance have a great reputation. It’s been a long time coming. And so I really look forward to being one of many who will learn and grow in a lot of areas.”
date of the merger
Quintana is no stranger to organizing or being in front of a crowd. She is the co-chair of the HUB Women’s Network, which covers a lot of employees since “72% of our company is female.” But that doesn’t mean that 72% of managerial or executive positions are held by women, “which is fairly typical,” she admitted.
“We’re in the financial services industry. We’re primarily male-dominated when it comes to driving in the C-suite.” With this network, “I wanted to do something that would allow women to participate, be empowered, excel, and understand how to do what they want to do within the company.”
The network extends across Canada and the United States and has more than 450 ambassadors representing 18,000 employees.
“I do a lot of work on facilitation and guidance in this area,” she said.
Skills learned from A to Z
Quintana entered the industry through her brother, who worked as a State Farm agent, at a time when there were few, if any, female agents. She worked in his office, starting at the age of 16, while she was still attending school.
“That was a shortcut to helping my brother,” she said. Once I had three years under my belt, I decided, ‘You know what? I love insurance. I knew I wanted to work in an office. I knew I wanted to work in a big city. And I knew I wanted to make a difference.”
Insurance was a sure way to get these things.
She said that this field is not one that many young people dream of, but that it is “actually a very, very strong industry”. “Lots of job opportunities. I’m never bored.”
She started in the financial side, and ran an accounting department for 10 years. She was younger than the people she managed, which meant she had to learn how to deal with the dynamics of managing people twice her age. She has learned to respect both their age and experience, and still holds the team together.
While she’s good with numbers, the experience led her to realize: “I like people more than I like numbers,” she said. So, she moved from the accounting side to the operations side of the company, working with men and women and learning how to continue to grow and develop her career.
“Respect and teamwork is something I believe in very strongly and I think you do that up and down the ladder,” she said. “Treating people the way I want to be treated has always been a really important thing to me. And that, in my opinion, has gotten me to where I am today.”
Furthermore, a strong work ethic helps in setting a good example.
“People see that I work as hard or harder than they do,” she said. “I usually turn off the lights at night. These are the kinds of skills that make a difference.”
Knowledge creates power
Quintana has been able to use her knowledge of numbers and her ability to read financial statements to create programs and opportunities “where I can make a difference on the operational side,” she says.
It has made itself the “go-to person” on staff, in everything from performance and numerical analysis, workflow optimization, etc.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female when you’re helping people with these kinds of problems,” she said. “You’ll be recognized. And that’s how my career began to expand and grow. So it’s a learning skill. Don’t just be someone with good soft skills. You have to have knowledge of something, and then you have to keep up with that knowledge, and make sure you raise your hand for opportunities to help. And that’s how I noticed—I was solving someone else’s problem.”
And people remember that. Who was there for them when they had a problem? Kathy Quintana. And you could also be in this situation.
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