Jodie Kaufman is a corporate vice-president and managing director with Burns & Wilcox Canada. She was previously featured in Insurance Business Canada Magazine’s Young Guns 2016 list.
We find out more about what drives Jodie in this exclusive interview, and how a mother of three has found success in an industry typically dominated by men.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
As the leader of Burns & Wilcox Canada, I am responsible for developing and preserving market and broker relationships as corporate vice president and managing director, overseeing all Canadian operations.
As a mother, I have three young children – two girls and a boy. It is a goal of mine to ensure that all employees are able to find a work-life balance despite the demanding industry.
I have a passion for getting involved in the community, recently establishing internal policies that allow employees to take time off to volunteer. Extending this passion, we created the Burns & Wilcox Award for Philanthropy and Community Service with Insurance Business Canada.
In addition, I play an integral role in the development and execution of the company’s overall growth strategy, increasing the amount of premium written by 120% and staffing by 80% since 2014.
Any recent accomplishments, big or small, that you would like to share? What are they?
Building and elevating the Burns & Wilcox Canada brand in the Canadian marketplace is one of my main accomplishments. I played a key role in the acquisition of Avec. Through oversight and direction, I have been able to develop Avec’s Inland and Ocean Marine expertise into key product lines for Burns & Wilcox Canada.
Another recent acquisition I am proud of is our newest office expansion into Montreal, Quebec through a strategic business unit acquisition of the high-value homeowner’s insurance practice from Quebec-based XN Financial Services, Inc. (XN). This marks our entrance into Quebec.
What advantages does your law background give you now that you work in the insurance sector?
As a corporate lawyer, it is imperative to learn the ins and outs of specific businesses swiftly. Understanding this provides a stronger ability to quickly implement and integrate transactions. I find myself reviewing contracts on a daily basis with insurance companies, brokers, and vendors. Specializing in law provides insight into how business deals are structured, performed, and negotiated.
In leading a managing general agent, it is important to be comfortable negotiating with all parties involved to put successful agreements together. The elements of business that I learned as a young lawyer have helped me improve the pace at which we do business today.
What inspired you to become a leader in insurance?
First and foremost, my father, Alan Jay Kaufman, and grandfather, Herbert W. Kaufman, inspired my career with their incredible successes in leading H.W. Kaufman Financial Group and Burns & Wilcox. Shortly after starting in the insurance industry I met Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyd’s of London. This encounter helped me realize that if there is a female leader at Lloyd’s, then other insurance enterprises can be led by strong women as well. Next year, I will be chairing a Canadian event specific to women in executive roles, and what I have seen is a large amount of opportunity to promote young women internally. In fact, our top producer in Kaufman Financial Group is a woman. As of now, Kaufman Financial Group’s workforce is comprised of 62% women, and I am extremely proud of that.
Why is it important for you to bring young talent into the industry?
It is a passion of mine and a necessity that our industry actively recruit, hire, and train millennials in insurance. Young talent that I have personally hired have a distinctive drive to achieve their best and stay competitive. We need these individuals to see a career path in insurance at university level. Through dedicated employee programs for recent college graduates like the Kaufman Emerging Leaders Program (KELP), I have helped recruit a diverse, energized workforce with 65% of our employees falling into the millennial age range in Canada. Currently, the average age of an insurance industry professional is 54 years old – we need to decrease that.
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