Agent Spotlight: Sara Berry, AAI, Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group
Sara Berry, AAI
Account Manager, Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group, Burlington, VT
Sara Berry, AAI, is an Account Manager at Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group’s Burlington, VT location, and the Vermont native is also involved in the Vermont Insurance Agents Association’s Evolving Leaders (formerly known as the Young Agents Committee or YAC) where she started as an at-large member and rose through the committee’s leadership over the last seven years to attain Board titles. She credits the value of networking, both among colleagues and other industry professionals, as beneficial to her career trajectory. She sees her role in the insurance industry continuing to grow thanks in part to the relationship building among clients, carrier personnel and co-workers. “I have a very strong base of mentors that helped me get to where I am today, and I hope the team I’m leading can say the same about me some day. I want to make sure that I’m empowering them to grow the way my mentors have empowered me to grow within this industry,” she said.
What is your general insurance background and career path?
I’ve always been in a customer service role, however, I never thought, ‘Hey, I’d love to get into insurance!’ It just sort of happened. Following graduation from college, my mom was working with a local agency principal, who she convinced to give me an interview. My career in insurance took off from there. I started in a processing position, became an associate, and shortly after, an account manager for Commercial Lines. I really enjoy helping people and solving problems, and as the Team Lead for our Small Business Unit at H&B, I can do both of those things. There are so many different avenues you can take in insurance, and I think that’s why I’ve stayed in the industry. It’s also a very male-dominated industry and that makes me want to continue to climb ladders in this industry.
In what ways are people from our industry making a difference in the community?
I’m the past Chair of Vermont’s Evolving Leaders. I’ve been involved in that committee for the past seven years. I’ve met some of my greatest mentors and friends through that program, women who I’ve seen accomplish so many goals and who have made me want to become a better agent and role model within this industry. InVest programs through the Big I are introducing younger generations to insurance and providing a better understanding of areas such as car insurance and when you should have it (always!). Evolving Leaders/VIAA’s involvement with Make-A-Wish, the Vermont Foodbank, Lets Grow Kids!, etc. Every agency and carrier that I know of are giving back in one way or another to their communities, and it’s so important for these programs to continue into the future. H&B has a huge United Way campaign each year where we set astonishing goals and meet them every time. We also spend days throughout the summer volunteering in our communities to give back to our clients.
What are your goals for the industry?
To help attract more people to this industry. I think if people were more aware of all the different branches to insurance, they would be more apt to dive into the industry overall.
What are common misconceptions about the industry/as a career that you don’t agree with?
“All insurance people are greedy.” The majority of agents that I’ve met and have worked with only have their client’s best interest in place and want to educate them so that they can make the most informed decisions regarding their insurance needs.
Why should people consider a career in insurance?
There are so many different paths available: accounting, claims, personal lines, commercial lines, underwriting, etc. There’s truly something for everyone in this industry. What excites me about the industry are the programs that are being offered by carriers encouraging women to rise up into leadership roles, agency principal roles, etc. I was recently on a webinar geared toward women in leadership positions that brought together 100+ women from across the country to focus on building your brand as a woman in this industry. It was a great experience!
What do you think of when you think about Union Mutual?
When I think of Union Mutual, I think of a local partnership.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t in insurance?
I would love to be working with children. More specifically, something that would allow for arts & crafts, naptime, reading, and snacks during the day!
What do you like to do outside of the office?
I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I enjoy hiking, reading, and spending time with my new puppy, Finley! I’m a huge true crime fan, so I also listen to any podcasts that dive in and help solve cases. I’m also on the path to reading 50 books this year. I’m currently at #26! My genre of choice is typically mystery/thriller. I max out my Book of the Month Club subscription every month!
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