know about this Diversity of experience is ‘the last frontier,’ says Women in Insurance speaker
in complete details.
Growing in his esteem for the industry, Zimmer stayed with insurance and, after a brief stint in underwriting and working at some of the largest brokers in the country, joined Hub International. He spent 14 years with them when they first came to the United States from Canada and with nine people at the head office, he recalled with a smile, only a handful were actual insurance people. But Zimmer is the first to tell you that opportunity is what you do with it.
“I rolled up my sleeves and did a variety of different things because I was willing to say ‘I’ll take care of it, I’ll try’ or ‘let me try,'” she said, adding that she grew up with the company: she was very involved in building its brand. and sales operations and, when it came out, it was running its intermediate markets globally.
“At Hub I realized that I am passionate about building new things; I fight to keep them,” she said. “So I set my sights on insurtech.”
Ten years ago, when insurtech was just beginning to emerge, Zimmer realized that the intersection of technology and insurance was not only an exciting space, but a vital one to sustain the business in the future. She instinctively sensed that technological innovation was not going to come out of traditional bricks and mortar sections, it had to come from start-ups. Zimmer made the jump to Embroker, a San Francisco digital insurtech startup, where she once again joined the ranks early (she was there installing Ikea furniture, she pointed out), but this time as director of operations. She remains a major shareholder today, noting “we built an amazing company that continues to thrive and really pushed the boundaries of traditional commercial insurance distribution.”
Zimmer’s belief that the real future of insurtech was in integrated distribution and ecosystems led her to Flexport, the first global supply chain company founded after the Internet. Enables customers to digitally manage all of their supply chain needs on a single platform, including insurance protection for cargo shipments: If you’re shipping goods from China to the Port of Los Angeles for distribution in Chicago, for example, you can choose for having that cargo insured. It’s an integrated transaction, selling when the buyer is buying something else, and Flexport is building an ecosystem for the global supply chain.
“I was intrigued and decided to put my money where my mouth was and just go build this thing,” Zimmer said.
While Flexport’s approach fits perfectly with Zimmer’s vision, there is another aspect that was also important to her: Flexport not only transports commercial goods, but also provides aid to Ukraine, is heavily involved in COVID and PPE, and works with hundreds of charities to bring goods to people in need. With up to 80% of relief budgets going to supply chain spending, “Flexport.org makes sure that when bad things happen in this world, we respond in meaningful ways.”
“I’m very proud of that: It’s important to have a mission, believe in it, and align yourself with companies that also support your belief system,” Zimmer said. “I am very progressive. I wake up every day and try to figure out how we can do things better; that’s what excites me and keeps me passionate about what I do.”
Zimmer stays close to innovation in the industry, advising pro bono to various insurtech startups and serving on the board of LuckyTruck in New York. She believes that if you’re generous with your experience, good and worthwhile things happen in the future, “and always have been for me,” she noted, adding “if there’s one part of my story that inspires me, I’m on board.” to share it.”
In the spirit of talking about his experience, making connections, and freely giving his time, Zimmer will participate in the next Women in Insurance Chicago event. Whenever she talks to young people in the space, especially young women, she emphasizes how a combination of traditional insurance and technology makes her resume extremely valuable in this market. From a practical point of view, there is a talent gap in the industry and there is no strong bank to fill it, which means that there are more opportunities, especially for women, than ever before. For someone who sees that need and wants to expand their professional horizons, “insurance as a discipline offers so many different career experiences that not looking at it is a missed opportunity,” Zimmer said.
People also tend to miss out on the riches that can be gleaned from the last frontier of diversity: experience. A speaker for the “Lessons Learned from a Multigenerational Workforce” session, Zimmer said, although diversity of thought, race, and gender have become major tenants of business, multigenerational diversity is often overlooked. It’s important, and relevant, to Zimmer, who sees people like her who have been in the business for decades struggling to stay relevant coexisting with new entrants struggling to build credibility, and that gap can breed bias.
Everyone’s value propositions are different and good leaders must look at what everyone brings to the table: only diversity of experiences can create solid and sustainable businesses. The key to Zimmer’s success is simple: everyone, including the most mature workers, must challenge themselves to understand new systems, adopt new processes, and seek new ways of looking at things.
“Push the envelope and ask yourself if there is a better way to do something. I’m almost 58 years old, I work in the technology space and I teach every day and I learn every day; it is what keeps me young, engaged and fulfilled,” she said.
To hear more from Julie about the importance of diversity of experiences, Check in for the Chicago Women in Insurance event today.