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In March and Beyond, We Celebrate Our Woman Leaders

When Newfront co-founders Spike Lipkin and Gordon Wintrob set out to build the brokerage of the future, they resolved to shake off some of the baggage of the old-school insurance industry. One obvious way to do that was by building a company filled with diverse voices and fresh perspectives—and that's just one of the reasons Newfront empowers a strong female workforce and actively encourages gender equality at work and beyond. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to shine a spotlight on just a few of the female leaders, brokers, and clients who make Newfront proud.

Lisa Hanson, Newfront Sales Director 

Lisa Hanson's career in insurance has spanned nearly 30 years; before Newfront, she owned a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, change management, and leadership. Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn here.

What do you like most about the work you do? 

Helping salespeople achieve and get out of their own way. I love being a resource at the sales level and helping producers keep their confidence up during tough times. I place a lot of value on helping people gain insight into their own emotions during important sales conversations, because it can help them clear their head of roadblocks and get in the right mindset for success. 

Tell us about your strengths. 

I have cultivated leadership skills over my lifetime and I like to lead other people toward unlocking their own leadership capacity. I strongly believe that everyone has leadership potential and I think it’s a strength of mine to help people feel empowered and find the right leadership role for themselves. 

Can you describe a time when you overcame a challenge? 

In a prior leadership role, one of my responsibilities was to turn around unprofitable territories marked by economic downturn and low producer engagement. The obvious assumption was that the regional economic troubles led the producers to disengage, but I wanted to dig deeper. My first step in every territory was to schedule lengthy one-on-ones with each producer to connect on an individual level. In doing so, I learned that it was not typically the perceived lack of opportunity that caused producers to disengage; rather, it was because the individual did not feel valued by the brokerage.

Once I listened and understood what motivated each person to do his or her best, I found ways to engage the producers in the business. We created action plans that reflected how and why the producer wanted to be successful. To further engage them, I created opportunities for the producers to become part of large and small teams to give a sense of camaraderie. Through coaching and encouragement, the results came quickly as producers surpassed the expectations others had of them as well as those they had of themselves.

Do you have any words of wisdom for women who might want a similar career to yours? 

I would say to never give up. Historically, the insurance industry has been full of barricades for women. While things are dramatically different at Newfront, they’re not fully solved anywhere. So as a woman, it’s important to reach out to your colleagues and find allies in both men and women. Your allies will be critical over time.

Debra Scalice, Newfront Producer 

Debra Scalice is a Newfront broker with more than 30 years of risk management experience. She partners with entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, from manufacturing and distribution to non-profits. 

What do you like most about the work you do? 

My clients are so inspirational to me. Entrepreneurs find a way where there is no way; they are mavericks, pioneers, and problem-solvers. They are the most hard-working, creative people among us and I’m so proud to help them contribute to the US economy. 

Tell us about your strengths. 

I am painstaking about assembling insurance programs that are as unique as my clients. I take the time to deeply understand my clients’ needs, educate them about their options, and compile programs that make sense for their business and their appetite for risk. 

Can you describe a time when you overcame a challenge? 

This is one of my favorite stories, because it’s demonstrative of the power of determination. One of my HR clients found themselves in an expensive bind when their workers' compensation classification code had been mis-assigned before we started working together. They had tried to remedy it to no avail, but I was determined to fix it. With my client’s permission, I spoke with eight people at several entities and carriers—all of whom told me “no”—before I finally got the change made. It didn’t affect my commission but it was a huge cost savings for my client. The takeaway is that it doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you can’t do something—you can. Just follow your instinct and keep forging through. 

Do you have any words of wisdom for women who might want a similar career to yours? 

I would tell any woman that if you want this career and you’re willing to work hard for it, you can have it. Pursue knowledge, gain experience, and find a mentor and this is one of the most financially and emotionally rewarding careers you could possibly have.  

Cristina Posada, Owner of Safe2core

When Cristina Posada emigrated from Colombia at age 20 and arrived in San Jose, California, she found a job at her brother-in-law’s construction company and spent the next 13 years mastering English, earning her undergraduate degree in business and marketing, and absorbing as much industry knowledge as she possibly could. When presented with a fortuitous offer to buy a struggling concrete scanning company, she borrowed money from her parents for a down payment, arranged to pay for the rest of the company over time, and took an enormous risk. She’s owned the company, Safe2core, for a decade now, and Cristina is a client of Newfront broker Susan Groff

What do you like most about the work you do? 

Safe2core provides concrete scanning, concrete cutting, and utility locating services. We use ground penetrating technology—an alternative to x-ray—to locate embedded construction targets like post-tension cables, conduits, and rebar. We also locate utilities such as water, gas, and telephone lines. After the target areas have been scanned and cleared, we cut the concrete laying over them. The process is important because it prevents the structure from being damaged and protects the safety of everyone working on the site; that's what I value most about what I do. 

Tell us about your strengths. 

I care deeply for my team and I consider them family. I routinely hear from clients, employees, and friends how much my team loves working for Safe2core. Most business owners think the customers are the most important asset, but for me, my employees are the most valuable—because if they’re happy, they make my clients happy. 

Can you describe a time when you overcame a challenge? 

When I first bought Safe2core, the business had a terrible reputation that I had to overcome. The prior owner was a good person but distracted by personal issues that left the business in bad shape. Former clients were hesitant to hire me and I couldn’t get a loan from the bank. I sometimes literally begged people to give me a chance. I eventually rebuilt the reputation of Safe2core and I’m now doing five times as much business as the prior owner. It’s an incredible feeling to look back on what I’ve achieved. 

Do you have any words of wisdom for women who might want a similar career to yours? 

I always think of this quote from Robert Kiyosaki: “Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” I always keep that quote present in my mind because it helps me remember to not let fear interfere with my goals. Of course uncertainty is terrifying, but you have to just go for it anyway—because the feeling of really achieving something cannot be matched.

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