Featuring Catherine Ratcliffe, Principal Vice President of Operations at Sullivan Benefits/One Digital; and Stacey Meade, Head of Sales from Meritain Health. Hosted by Bridgette Cassety from the Broker Engagement department at Meritain Health.
Looking to get into the industry? Female leaders share their advice, including:
•Taking risks and being fearless.
•Being intentional while developing your network.
•Not being too critical of yourself.
•Being yourself while also taking care of yourself.
Welcome to another special edition of in the booth. My name is Bridget Cassidy and I oversee our broker engagement team here at Meritain Health. As a career industry professional today. I'm so pleased that we're launching a new series that's near and dear to my heart. It is called women in insurance, by women and for women. I'm so pleased today to be joined by two special guests. One is Catherine Radcliff, who is a partner, and chief operating officer at Sullivan benefits in Tampa, Florida, and Stacey Meade who is one of our regional presidents here at Meritain. She oversees our national client management team, and is from Omaha, Nebraska. So welcome ladies. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today to get us started. I just wanted to have both of you share a little bit of advice that you'd have to a woman that was joining our industry and something that you think would be important for her to think about as she got into an insurance career. So, Catherine, do you want to kick us off and maybe just share some perspective and advice that you would have for somebody considering a career in our industry? Sure. Thank you. I think the first thing is to not hold back to ask the questions that you're thinking of to not be intimidated by the fact that there's a lot of head nodding going on in a room and you've thought of a question or you want to understand something differently. I think it's really important to recognize that you're not just one title sitting in that room, whether it's with a customer, whether it's with a partner or vendor or any other type of setting that you need to look at. What makes us uniquely different is the fact that we do hold so many titles. We are daughters, we are mothers, wives, friends, sisters, and each of those titles help shape us in a slightly different way. I think if you think of those questions and you ask those questions and you really take the time to establish relationships that are going to help you grow in all directions, it's very important to put yourself out there and to not be afraid to raise your hand or to ask for help or to share stories. Stacey what about you? What advice would you have for somebody considering a career in our industry? First It is a great industry to be in its constantly changing. There's something new to learn all the time. But I really like what Catherine said about not being afraid to ask the question, not being afraid to bring things up because the fact is we do all have different viewpoints and no single view alone is going to give us enough information to be the best consultants for our clients, for our peers, for our employees. And so when you're willing to have those questions, when you're willing to look embarrassed for just a minute you end up getting to a better place. And very often you can teach other people. The fact is we've all been new before. We have all run into situations we do not know what to do. COVID-19 was a great example that nobody knew how to handle that. So, if we work together and we are willing to have that uncomfortable conversation for just a moment, you can get to a place where you can come up with a better solution for everybody. Stacey, just taking this conversation in a slightly different direction. What would you look back on? When you look back on your tenure career, is there anything that you would do different that you think other people could learn from? You know, one of the things that I have really put a focus on in the last year that I wish I had started sooner is the idea of networking and specifically networking with other women. I think I am used to, developing relationships with my clients, with our producers, used to developing an inside my organization. But this year I have really made an intentional effort to start developing a broader network of women to talk to. It can be people that are adjacent to our industry, maybe not directly in there. But I think what I have found is, one, the more viewpoints you have, the better information you have the better decisions you can make. Two, the sense of connection, right? That, idea that we are all facing the same thing, even if it is in a slightly different way really creates that sense that, Hey, we're all in this together. We are all trying to make an improvement for our business, for employees and for our families. That has made a difference for me. What about you, Catherine? Is there something that when you look back on your career that you say, gosh, if I could go back, here's the piece of advice I can give to somebody that I learned along the way I think really raising my hand earlier. I think there were different components where people would ask me to, to be part of something to take this point, whether it was a networking team or being part of a panel discussion where I didn’t feel, the confidence that I think I should have. Understanding when somebody is asking you to be part of something they are looking specifically for your viewpoint and understand the viewpoint that you bring to that table. I think I would have started that earlier. I think it would have helped me professionally, personally. So, I encourage all my connections, my team, my children and my colleagues that they should do that really develop that team and put yourself out there. Don't be afraid. It’s Ok, we've all been there. Yeah, you right. We have all been there. When you think about being there, there is always a story. I find that everybody has, it really helps propel them to their level of success. And so to maybe wind down our podcast here today, I thought it would be good for, for both of you to maybe share a story with our listeners that helped you grow. So Catherine, do you want to share with us first that a story that had impact on you? Sure. I think, you know, for me that the struggle has always been both the professional and the personal. I sacrificed a lot personally for my professional career and it was something that I always struggled with. So I looked back as a touchstone to my mom who was a working mom. She was a nurse and she often struggled with the fact that she was going to take care of other people's children and could not take care of us when we were sick all the time. So, her sort of internal living with that with that was, she would make us breakfast, a hot breakfast any day that we made our way down to the kitchen between five 30 or six in the morning. It can be whatever we wanted. She had no fear of making three different breakfasts it had to happen. It was how she did it for us. So I tried to carry that on with my own children. And, you know, some days your efforts are not always recognized or celebrated by your children as you feel they should be. I had had a great work week and not so great day at home with the kids. I was sharing over a glass of wine with a colleague and someone with a much bigger title than I held at the time and letting her know about what it felt like a tremendous failure in terms of the fact that my children were not impressed with plain pancakes, they want chocolate chips to go along with them. It was a bit of a breaking point and she humbled herself to tell me about a time when she was making lunches for her boys and had a challenge similar. And that we had, we all go through those things. We all have moments where you just break. I think the honesty of that really, it helped me and helped me for a long time. It still helps me today. I feel like I'm dropping the ball at something. I recognize that hopefully in 30 years they realize what I have tried to do at least Absolutely. That you were intentional in your act for sure. Stacey what is a story that you would share with our listeners, that has formed you in your own journey? Yeah. when I think back about influential moments, I think to my first executive leadership job. I was mentored by two women who I had worked with for a long time. I think what was really helpful for me was how honest they were about their experiences. Very similar to what Catherine went through. Sometimes their honesty was around. Yeah. I didn't know what that word meant either. When we started that meeting, it took me until halfway through to figure it out or being willing to ask the question that as newbie in the room. I was really not comfortable asking when they were honest with me about those situations. They were also very honest with me about creating balance, right? I think our default is to try and give a thousand percent to absolutely everything we do. Realistically, that it is just not possible. We have to take care of ourselves. So they were great mentors to me, both, modeling good behavior, taking care of themselves, taking care of their families and times in which, the job became stressful, but also in pushing me to do the same, reminding me that, Hey, it's important to take days off and actually disconnect, not to think about it. If I look back over my career there, their behavior in modeling, and being honest about what their reality was like gave me permission to do the same. and I think ultimately has made me a better leader. Thanks so much Stacy I think you're spot on about that. when I sort of reflect on the conversation that we have had here today, I wrote down a few notes that I just wanted to summarize in closing. The first thing I wrote down is to be fearless. I think I've heard that both from you, Catherine, and from Stacy, which is, don't be afraid to re raise your hand, take the risk to just be fearless when you go out there and to be intentional and developing your network and your resources, and to be part of a team to really be proactive and intentional in that approach. Also I wrote down, don't be too critical of yourself, right? Sometimes as women, we always can look at the glass and see it only as half empty instead of half full. To not be so hard on ourselves as women. Then lastly, I wrote down be yourself and I think Stacy, I would add to that not only be yourself, but to take care of yourself. then that is so important in the times that we're living in right now, when everyone is stretched a little bit thin. So I just want to thank you both for sharing your thoughts, your perspectives, your stories with our listeners today. I'm sure that they can relate to so much of it. It's been such an important time for us to be connected. I hope that this podcast series will allow us to do just that to stay connected. So thank you to our listeners for joining me again for the special edition of, in the booth. And look forward to you joining me again soon.