Women in Insurance: Sabrina H. Timmins, Vice President, Broker Strategy, CNA

Women in Insurance - January 13 2021

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. This week, we’re pleased to profile Sabrina H. Timmins, Vice President, Broker Strategy, CNA. Sabrina discusses the endless opportunities within insurance and the positive changes she has witnessed in the industry since she began her career.

Sabrina, what do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?

First and foremost, I find the ability to cultivate deep relationships extremely rewarding. The insurance industry is relationship-driven and made up of wonderful people, many of whom I now call friends. I also enjoy problem solving for the “what-ifs” that companies face every day, as insurance helps companies prepare for the unexpected and rebuild following catastrophes.

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?  

To entice new talent, the insurance industry needs to promote itself as the progressive, challenging and fun industry that it is. Risk profiles are changing every day, and the insurance industry is continuously pivoting alongside these changes – from adapting to natural disaster frequency, emerging risks, the COVID-19 pandemic, or civil unrest to name a few. Further, there are endless areas of opportunity within insurance, from underwriting, claims, legal, marketing, distribution, actuary to risk management and brokerage that provide unique career paths. It is also important for insurers to be visible. As you talk to insurance professionals, many will tell you they fell into the industry because of someone they knew who loved their career. It is critical that the industry promotes itself, starting when students are in high school but certainly in college. The insurance industry is often considered as a fundamental building block to the economy, and it is important for students and professionals of all ages to see the industry in the same light.

Insurers can also recruit more talent by getting involved with Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS), the insurance industry’s premier collegiate talent pipeline. GIS represents a diverse network of 5,000 student members from 93 universities across North America and focuses on professional development, leadership training and equipping students with career resources, soft skills and an unparalleled network, resulting in well-rounded and well-prepared talent ready to join all functional segments of the industry. I was involved in GIS in college, which prepared me to enter the industry. I have remained active both on the Board of Trustees and as the Risk Management Committee Chair. Additionally, insurers can attract talent by promoting the industry to universities who may not have a RMI program.

What can insurance companies do to ensure that women not only stay in the profession but advance in their careers?

Insurance companies must treat everyone equally. I believe people should be given equal opportunities based on their merits, not their gender. They must also be supportive of an individual’s professional and personal goals. I think it’s important for managers to understand each member of their team’s personal goals and to support them. One thing COVID-19 has taught many organizations is the need for flexibility.

I am fortunate to work at CNA, an organization that has supported me and my career regardless of my gender, including as I build my family and have taken time off for maternity leave.

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

At CNA, we pride ourselves on promoting a culture that challenges and engages people, and offers opportunities for employees to learn and grow. We believe that diversity and inclusion leads to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent and better business performance. It’s a core belief that helps us strive to create an environment that promotes behaviors that encourage new ways of problem-solving and rewards diversity of thought.

We strive to create a culture in which people know they matter and are part of something important, ensuring the abilities of all employees are used to their fullest potential. As such, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a key component of our day-to-day business.

Among the ways we work to build and maintain a knowledgeable workforce is our spotlight on personal and professional development. We continuously seek new avenues for supporting and strengthening our employees' knowledge and expertise, whether through tuition reimbursement, assistance for earning professional designations, online courses or in-house training. Here are just a few of the things we do:

  • Develop relationships and contracts with suppliers, associations and businesses owned by minorities and women
  • Foster diversity awareness and skills at all levels and within all functions
  • Explore new and diverse markets, customers and distribution channels for CNA products and services
  • Understand global cultures, customers' needs and business practices, and develop strategies to support them
  • Work with and invest in the diverse communities where we do business
  • Promote an environment of acceptance and inclusion
  • Expand our commitment to Employee Resource Groups to increase their impact and effectiveness
  • Implement D&I training for all employees
At CNA, we are proud to have received positive external recognition for our increased D&I efforts, including: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index perfect score for the fifth consecutive year, Prospanica’s Workplace Culture Impact Award, and Gamma Iota Sigma’s Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Champion of the Year.

What positive changes have you seen since you began in your career?

I’ve witnessed many positive changes since I began my insurance career 15 years ago. There is increased awareness, authenticity and accountability within the industry, and I’ve found companies are more open to address issues and speak about social challenges.

I also think the industry is more diverse than years ago. When I first started in my career, I was frequently the only woman in the room. I now work on a team with a strong presence of women in senior and executive-level roles. I’ve been fortunate to have strong female mentors to guide me, and I believe this shift has helped organizations encourage diversity of thought and make stronger business decisions.

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

My biggest piece of advice is to take the risk. It is crucial for women, specifically, to support and encourage each other in making career moves. Early in my career, I was scared to take risks until I ultimately thought to myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Even when opportunities weren’t quite what I expected, I learned from every experience, and the reward always outweighed the risk of regret from leaving an opportunity on the table. I also suggest staying true to your authentic self. To succeed in my career, I quickly learned that all I needed to be was myself.

Sabrina H. TimminsSabrina H. Timmins is Vice President, Broker Strategy, CNA. In this role, she is responsible for establishing key priorities with strategic partners at an enterprise level to align CNA’s product growth plans to facilitate local strategies and initiatives in the market.

Prior to joining CNA in 2019, Sabrina served as President, Honan Insurance Group, where she oversaw the strategy, direction, team, growth and operational excellence of the Property & Casualty and Employee Benefits Global Risk Practice. Sabrina has also served in roles of increasing responsibility at AIG and Aon.

Sabrina earned a bachelor’s degree in Risk Management and Insurance from Temple University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She also completed her Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designation. Sabrina serves on the Executive Council & Board of Trustees for Gamma Iota Sigma and is the Risk Management Committee Chair. She previously served as the President of Gamma Iota Sigma’s Alumni Council.

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