Ask any business leader to identify the greatest factor that contributes to her company’s success and the responses will point toward a unified conclusion: the people make the place. As the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer of NFP, Kim Davis agrees that people are the lifeblood of an effective organization. NFP is one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States with almost 4,000 employees across 150 U.S. locations, including Puerto Rico, and offices in Canada and the U.K. Based on her expertise in people management, Kim espouses the belief that “everyone has something unique to offer; as a leader, it’s my responsibility to provide them with the resources and nurturing environment to achieve their goals.” Learn how you can apply Kim’s five strategies for success to your professional pursuits.
Strategy 1: Listen Up!
A good leader makes a conscious effort to actively listen to different perspectives because openness is the root of understanding. “Being able to clearly communicate my opinions and intentions is the most important part of my job,” Kim explains. “Whether I’m talking with the CEO, a board member or one of my employees, I talk in a way that they’ll understand me and I’ll understand them. Everyone is coming from a different place, but it’s important that you put yourself in their place and demonstrate that you’re open.”
Strategy 2: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Kim is responsible for finding creative ways to make her employees’ and clients’ lives better. She champions the mantra that “it takes every person and the skills they bring to win.” When Kim hires new team members, she looks for candidates who think differently than she does. She values team members who are confident, compassionate, and collaborative. Kim and her NFP team also make it a priority to give back to the community and support the people they serve.
Strategy 3: Be Open to Change; It’s the Only Constant
Once you’ve started navigating along a specific academic or career path, it can seem difficult to change your course and embark on unfamiliar territory. As a college freshman, Kim studied computer programming because she enjoyed learning about a systematic approach to problem-solving that could be applied to any industry. She soon found that this major was too individualistic; she wanted to study a topic that was more collaborative and people-centric. This prompted Kim to pursue a business degree so that she could focus on strategic thinking and team dynamics.
Strategy 4: Find a Role Model
During her first job working in HR, Kim had a female boss who served as her role model and helped her envision what type of leader she wanted to be. “Every good leader needs a role model,” Kim elaborates. “My boss started off as an admin and quickly moved her way up to be one of the most senior executives at the company — because she always gave her time, expertise, and commitment whenever it was needed. Most importantly, as a boss, she didn’t simply provide us with directives; she asked us questions, such as ‘how are you thinking about fixing that situation?’ — so we were constantly learning in our respective roles.”
Strategy 5: Explore the Possibilities
While many people think that working in insurance is more of a desk job, Kim is proof that it’s anything but a typical profession. Kim is passionate about motivating people both inside and outside of the office with the exciting possibilities that a career in insurance provides for one’s professional growth, family and community. Kim works to encourage young people by highlighting that “NFP is an exciting place to work. I want people to know that this is a place where they can really be themselves and give something back. They can come here and build a career that adjusts to their needs during the different stages in their lives.”
Interested in applying Kim’s strategies to your professional journey? Visit https://www.nfp.com/careers to claim your career.