Dani Parsons is an Account Executive at Gallagher, where she specializes in providing insurance brokerage services to Gallagher’s Public Sector clients, which includes K-12 Education, City, County, and State exposures. Dani is responsible for assisting the Gallagher team with various insurance placements, program term review and negotiations, and assuring that all renewal timelines and deliverables are completed. She is also responsible for day-to-day client servicing.
Here is what Dani had to way when we asked her about personal development and team building:
GenHERation®: When you are new to an organization, either as an intern or full-time employee, how can you add value?
Dani Parsons: There are many ways that you can add value. The biggest one is knowing that every single experience prior to your current role gives you a unique set of perspectives to bring to the table. This means that you have new and exciting insights to share with the team. There will be people in the room who know more than you do, but by actively listening you can provide thoughtful and valuable feedback because of your background. Have a sense of awareness of how you can present this information, and most importantly be willing to put yourself out there.
GenHERation®: What is the best way to prepare for one-on-one and group meetings?
Parsons: Whether it is a one-on-one or group meeting, there are several best practices that you should follow. Know your audience. Are you meeting with a boss, interviewer, or client? It’s important to know your audience, so you can anticipate what the person you’re meeting with hopes to achieve. Make sure you know your own goals as well. Additionally, before meetings, you should set and share an agenda. The agenda should include the meeting’s purpose, topics, and follow-up touchpoints. During all meetings, make sure that you are engaged.
GenHERation®: How can you ensure that your voice and ideas are heard when you are in a group setting?
Parsons: Think about what you want to present. If you are in an auditorium listening to a speaker or attending a department meeting, think about how you want to articulate your questions or statements in a way that is simple to understand, but gets you to your answer. If you’re in a smaller setting, find your space and try to have more open and meaningful conversations.
GenHERation®: What are three steps you can take to build a high-performing team?
Parsons: At Gallagher, I worked in sales and then production, and I’ve also worked with our Internship Program and recruiting. Now, I work on what I call a “well-oiled machine,” so I’ve had a lot of experience working with teams. First, understand everybody’s motivation. Every single person is motivated by a different factor. Does this person need pats on the back or like praise? Understand what motivates others around you and try to understand their working styles. Is someone a morning person? Second, set realistic timelines and expectations. You can’t expect anyone to perform well if you don’t give them a structure of guidelines of when things need to be done. You need a priority list. You can’t assume people know what the number one priority is when you give them a list of expectations. Third, always be willing to teach. Be willing to take the time to teach those around you, at all levels. You can’t assume everyone knows everything you know. Also, be willing to reward and praise. We are so quick to assume, “It’s their job, they should get it done.” People want to be cheered on and know that their work is good.
GenHERation®: How can you build trust with your coworkers?
Parsons: It relates to timelines and expectations. Communication is key. If people don’t know what you are working on or if you are struggling, things get off track. Let others know when you will get a task done, so people know you are working and that they can count on you. Timelines do get moved, so remember to still be adaptable. You also have to be approachable. Let others know you will be there when they have those “silly” questions. People come to me and say, “I have a silly question,” but I always tell them there’s no such thing. I reassure those around me and build others up, and the trust comes.
GenHERation®: When the members of your team disagree, what strategies should you utilize to reach a resolution?
Parsons: This one can be tough and completely depends on the situation. At the end of the day, if you are in a role managing people or working with others, you will have to deal with or mitigate conflict. The first step is hearing both sides and understanding what the issue is. Usually, it is a communication issue. Listen to both sides and understand where each side is coming from. Take some time to review and reflect. Try to understand both sides’ motivations, perspectives, and goals. Then, bring both sides together to reach a compromise. No one loves to compromise, but it often brings us to the best situation. Look at situations from an objective perspective, keeping your emotions on the side, and strive to better understand others.
GenHERation®: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Parsons: Number one is just because it’s your emergency it doesn’t mean it’s everyone else’s emergency. Maybe you got behind on a deadline, but it doesn’t mean everyone above and below you should have to drop everything to accommodate you. At the end of the day, we all need realistic timelines. The other piece of advice is that no goal is too silly just the ones that you stop going after. In our personal and professional life, we set these goals and then they sit on the shelf. The ones that you don’t go after are missed opportunities. You can change goals though. Have those points of evaluation to hit major milestones in your career and life.
Dani Parsons has been with Gallagher since she began her career in insurance. She started as an intern in 2015, and transitioned full-time into an Account Executive in 2016 after receiving her degree in Risk Management and Insurance from Florida State University. She specializes in providing insurance brokerage services to Gallagher’s Public Sector clients, which includes K-12 Education, City, County, and State exposures. She has experience handling complex property placements, with most being CAT-exposed accounts that include over $10B in Total Insured Values and over $500M in CAT-limits placed. She has also assisted in builders risk placements, as well as reinsurance and parametric strategy and renewals. In regards to liability, she has placed various excess liability programs, which includes complex liability towers, as well as School Leaders E&O, Catastrophic Student Accident, and Cyber Liability. Dani is responsible for assisting the team with various insurance placements, program term review and negotiations, and assuring that all renewal timelines and deliverables are completed. She is also responsible for day-to-day client servicing, which includes working closely with the account management team to ensure all client needs and requests are being met within a timely manner.