Agent Spotlight: Mary B. Pursell, CPCU, Abbate Insurance Associates, Inc.
Mary B. Pursell, CPCU, Owner
Abbate Insurance Associates, Inc.: New Haven, Connecticut
Mary B. Pursell, CPCU began her insurance career by working part-time for a small agency in high school and through college. Pat Abbate, founder of Abbate Insurance, encouraged Mary to consider a career in insurance while she was majoring in Business at Southern Connecticut State University. Pat mentored Mary through all roles of the independent agency. Once Mary made the commitment to a leadership role, Pat offered her ownership in the agency.
Why should people consider a career in insurance? There are so many opportunities in the field of insurance. Many people think of insurance as just a sales or customer service job, but it is a vast industry that employs many occupations, such as law, claims adjusters, actuaries, medical (experts), marketing, IT, and educators. If one has entrepreneurship interest, then owning an agency will provide that independence. It is a gratifying business since it helps make people whole after a loss. It is very rewarding to be part of that process.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned, and how is it valuable to you today? I have learned many, but I think the most important leadership lesson I have learned is to listen, be patient, and think on a problem over time versus reacting. I am still working on that. I also have learned to reach out to others with more expertise in an area to gather information to make decisions. I also like to go with my gut.
What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur who wants to start her own agency? I would advise women who want to be an agency principal to maintain a strong work ethic and not get discouraged when things seem hard; try to be your best each day and when you fail, try again the next day; become an expert in the field of insurance, and that means finding the right solution for your clients. Knowledge is power. Go the extra mile for your clients and build trust in the relationships – the investment will serve you well over a lifetime.
What charitable giving, environmental, or community projects are you involved in? I have always been involved in community events through business and church affiliations. I support many fundraising events, but I wanted to create ongoing philanthropy through Abbate Insurance. I wanted our insureds to feel good about working with a firm that gives back to its community in a fundamental way. When my daughter and I were participating in a community service project through our High School alma mater serving dinner to men in a homeless shelter, I noticed that linens and pillows were missing from the beds. The men also were asking for toothpaste and toiletries. My lifelong friend and I explored the need for these items and found that they were much needed items at various shelters. In 2015, I organized Linens of Love and we are pleased to serve not only homeless shelters but also the Department of Children and Families and veterans.
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