Iwona Bettridge admits she barely even knew what insurance was when she joined NZI 15 years ago - now she’s a highly regarded regional manager for the company’s AON CPF (client placement facility) line.
Like many insurance professionals, Bettridge fell into the industry.
“I got really sick of being a poor student, doing part-time waitressing work, so I decided to finish my last semester of Bachelor of Business extramurally and get a full-time job.”
“I landed a job at the NZI direct branch in Takapuna, selling domestic insurance in a call centre environment. Before I started, I didn’t even know what ‘excess’ meant, however, I quickly learnt with the excellent training provided.”
After a year of selling domestic insurance, Bettridge moved into the commercial space, working as a business development manager in SME and corporate environments before securing her current role.
Amongst all of this, Bettridge became a mother and now has two children, a seven-year-old girl and five-year-old boy.
Bettridge says juggling home life while advancing her insurance career was challenging but, she says both helped her realise exactly what she was capable of - professionally and personally.
“I’m a firm believer in the importance of face-to-face interaction as it promotes and instils connection.
In my role, I sit in the AON office. Conducting business with brokers in their environment has taught me a great deal about myself and allowed me to feel somewhat comfortable in normally uncomfortable situations.
At the end of the day, business disagreements should never be taken personally, and mutual respect and understanding are key."
Bettridge compares the underwriter/broker relationship to an umbilical cord – with brokers connecting the underwriter to the end customer.
“Brokers help us understand our customers’ businesses to enable us to tailor insurance solutions for them, and if that umbilical cord is not strong and healthy we run a high risk of losing the connection with our end customer – and these are the people we are ultimately here for.”
On top of strong broker/underwriter relationships, Iwona encourages diverse thinking in the workplace.
“If we always stick with the same type of people in the insurance industry because it is 'easier and more comfortable', we will only go so far in terms of development. Great ideas and collaboration are born in diverse environments.”
She believes that accepting and embracing each other’s differences will shape the future of the industry and move it forward.
“We are now seeing more inclusive and equal models of reality where you can 'dream big' and 'accomplish big', regardless of your gender, social status or religion. I’m all for that.”
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