Women in Insurance: Carrie Busic, Commercial Lines Product & Profitability Leader, Westfield Insurance

Women in Insurance - April 28 2021

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. This week, we speak with Carrie Busic, Commercial Lines Product and Profitability Leader at Westfield. Carrie shares the career journey that led her to insurance and discusses what the industry can do to attract new talent and ensure inclusivity and diversity in insurance leadership.

Carrie, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the profession?

As a second-generation insurance professional, I saw a career in insurance provide a stable foundation for my family throughout my childhood. While in college, I held various seasonal and part-time roles in the industry before I began my career. This allowed me to build my understanding of the industry, potential career paths as well as the culture of the company I was considering. As a consummate learner, the diversity of roles and opportunities that were available not just in the industry but within a single company is what attracted me the most.

What do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?  

Helping people (and our organization) achieve their goals and objectives is what I enjoy most about my work. Competitive coverage, price and process are table stakes. Our most successful agency and customer relationships occur when we understand what success looks like for our customers and agents and support them in achieving that success. This is true as a leader in our organization as well. When individuals understand organizational direction and find alignment with their personal and professional goals, great things happen!

The pandemic has disrupted the entire insurance value chain including traditional distribution channels and producers. How are insurance companies coping with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and a hardening market in 2021?

While there is absolutely uncertainty as we navigate this environment, 2021 is a year filled with great opportunity as well. I’ll share a few of the opportunities I see:

  • The pandemic experience reinforced confidence in our ability to work in new and changing environments. Nearly a year later we know that technology investments we made pre-pandemic effectively support the communication and collaboration needs of a remote workforce. We also know that our teams have maintained productivity while improving capabilities and performance in many areas while working remotely. This confidence will allow for greater flexibility going forward in where employees live and work day-to-day.
  • The critical, timely communication needs of the pandemic also drove accelerated evolution of communication practices with agents and customers while increasing the availability of information. From “landing pages” to support topical or audience communication to increased focus on funding digital capabilities, we are already seeing improvement in this space.
  • The hard market is here and is necessitated by past and future challenges including pandemic uncertainty, casualty lines inflation, weather trends, and interest rates among others. The great news is that the industry is equipped to face these challenges head-on as it has done in the past. We now have better information to help us understand where additional rate or revisions in terms need to occur to improve results. This is a significant change from the “across the board” approaches of the past. We also know that this is the first hard market many of our underwriters have experienced. Like any new experience, we know that they will emerge from the experience with new knowledge and skills.

The insurance industry faces a recruitment challenge with millennials choosing professions they deem to be more progressive, challenging and fun. What can insurers do to entice new talent?

The reality is that talent is viewed as the top asset of most if not all insurance companies. People, their knowledge and unique backgrounds and perspectives are what drive planning, enable execution of plans and achievement of results. Carriers are becoming agile and more comprehensive in their quest to secure top talent from fostering pipelines of individuals who are already in the industry leveraging their skills with another employer to fostering new to industry talent in partnership with various universities or organizations. One way that Westfield does this is through our support of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS). As the industry’s leading college talent pipeline, GIS provides a conduit between students, faculty and employers. The result is that industry employers have access to a large pool of graduating students each year that have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in risk management as well as in their own professional development through various chapter activities.

Insurance has always been challenging and there has been plenty of opportunity for fun. After all, it is an industry that is built on people coming together to solve problems through partnerships. The reality is that the insurance industry is heavily regulated to ensure fair practices and financial integrity as the promise of protection occurs. While that regulation can temper the pace of change at times, there are more examples than ever of existing and new players challenging their business practices and processes and making major financial investments in evolving them.

What programs and initiatives does Westfield have in place to encourage inclusivity and diversity?

Whether its recruiting, hiring and staffing diverse teams or ensuring that we operate our business on a day-to-day basis with an inclusive mindset, inclusivity and diversity are non-negotiables at Westfield. Recently, we have been talking about our journey in 3 ways: commitment, communication and celebration.

Intention is the key to commitment. If you don’t intentionally include, then you unintentionally exclude. Our leadership team is both personally and professionally committed to inclusivity and diversity at Westfield. In addition to a commitment through engagement, we have chosen to fund a number of initiatives to ensure we are more consistently promoting inclusivity and diversity. From communication practices that promote increased collaboration and solicitation of diverse thought when problem solving to recognizing and reducing various forms of bias, we have significantly improved our practices across the organization.

Communication is key and we have committed to developing cultural norms and practices to facilitate open dialog even when it isn’t easy. These practices served us well during 2020 as pandemic challenges and social unrest were on the minds and hearts of many of our team members. We formalized dialogue circles to promote a sense of belonging and to ensure folks had the opportunity to be heard. These dialogues were not always easy, and we recognize that the best conversations are not. They were eye opening, inspiring and created deeper connections among colleagues and even their leaders. We are stronger for it.

We also take the time to recognize and celebrate the uniqueness of our team members. Examples of ways we celebrate the uniqueness of others spans from the formality of various Employee Resource Groups to more casual mixers where we learn things about each other and celebrate what makes us different.

We know that when an individual brings their whole self to work, everyone wins.

We recognize the power of each and know that each individual’s unique experience and perspective helps us build a greater holistic view when approaching problems or opportunities.

What advice would you give the next generation of women considering a career in insurance?

In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “Lean In”.

  • “Lean In” to new experiences that feel uncomfortable as they challenge you. They will likely be the most beneficial experiences of your career. One of my favorite phrases is “discomfort = development.”
  • “Lean In” to perspectives that are different from yours. Leverage questions and active listening to seek a deeper level of understanding, not to advocate for your own perspective.
  • “Lean In” to your power. At times the greatest limiting factor on our own performance or achievement is the stories that we tell ourselves or the limitations that we ourselves impose.
  • “Lean In” to relationship building. Regardless of your role, your network will be one of your most valuable assets throughout your career. This can look like the peers you leverage daily for input, the mentors that also serve as advocates for you throughout your career, the diverse group of individuals that help you broaden your perspective through their experiences or the pipeline you are building to fill or find future roles.

How you “Lean In” to your career will absolutely influence your success and satisfaction regardless of the industry you choose. The insurance industry provides an unlimited number of opportunities to do this through diverse roles, relationships and industry evolution. Sounds like a reason to “Lean In” to insurance!

Carrie L. BusicIn her role of Commercial Lines Product and Profitability Leader, Carrie Busic is charged with leading the oversight and orchestration of all profitability and product development related initiatives for Middle Market and Agribusiness as well as any associated implications to Westfield’s legacy Small Business book. In addition to her leadership of this operating unit, Carrie works with organization leaders on the development and execution of the company’s inorganic growth strategy. Prior to this assignment, Carrie served in various national, divisional, regional and project leadership roles in commercial lines including Small Business, CL Services, Middle Market and Agribusiness.

Carrie is a 2017 graduate of Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management Executive MBA program. She previously earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from The University of Akron where she majored in marketing management and minored in sales management. Opportunities in recent years have led her back to The University of Akron where she has taught insurance related courses at the Medina County University Center campus.

In addition to her core leadership roles, Carrie serves on the Board of Trustees for the United Way of Summit and Medina Counties and for Gamma Iota Sigma as well as on the Commercial Lines Planning Committee for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. Carrie resides in Valley City, OH.

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