Maureen Gallagher has more than 30 years of experience as a commercial insurance broker, consultant and educator. As a managing partner for Neace Lukens Inc., she has developed specialty practices for the company, including real estate, manufactured housing and workers compensation. A frequent lecturer and presenter, she is a faculty member for the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research and a member of the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators. She created the Property Risk and Insurance Specialist and the Certified Workers Compensation Counselors certification programs at Insurance Partners Academy. She has been featured and profiled in numerous publications. She was named by Crain’s Detroit Business, a sister publication of Business Insurance, as one of the Best and Brightest and one of Detroit’s Most Influential Women. She is also a member of the Chairman’s Club, reserved for only the top 5% of producers at Neace Lukens.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
I think there is a holistic approach to being successful. Do something in the field you love and are passionate about; then it isn’t work. Determine what you want, then write out your path or plan to get there. Gain the knowledge and competency to excel at it. Then take personal responsibility—through commitment, dedication and sacrifice to reach your dreams/goals.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU’VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?
Being an insurance agent gives us the opportunity to interact with a variety of different businesses. From afar or the outside, it can appear that some businesses are raking in the money…they make it look so easy. My experience is that all businesses have unique difficulties and challenges they must deal with. I have a profound respect for business owners and leaders. There is no easy business. It takes an enormous amount of work to be successful in any business. I empathize with the burden of responsibility owners and leaders feel for their employees. It has been a privilege and honor to assist owners and leaders protect their assets, profits and people.
DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?
Not so much mentors, but I certainly had inspirations. I wish someone had told me to seek out a mentor. It would have saved me a lot of mistakes and time achieving my goals. When I started in the business, there really were no women in underwriting, production or any positions of authority. Early in my career, I met an agent who did not look like all the rest of producers I encountered—blue suit and white shirt. He was a hybrid of Colonel Sanders and Davy Crockett. It was the first time I had the thought that maybe a woman could be a producer. Clearly, this guy looked nothing like the other male producers in blue suits and white shirts. Perhaps a woman could do this, too. Once I set my sights on production, any number of individuals helped me along the way. I was fortunate to have supportive superiors and many underwriters and other producers generous with their time and advice over the years.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB, OUTSIDE OF YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Frankly, if I did not love what I was doing, I would do something else. Being passionate and loving what you do is an important part of emotional and physical well-being. I do see myself focusing more and more on mentoring and teaching in the twilight of my career. It is not a dream job—as I don’t think I will ever be good enough to go pro and get paid…so technically not a job—but if I could, I would train full time for athletic endurance events.
OUTSIDE OF FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
It is not one individual, but individuals with certain characteristics and qualities I admire. I admire leaders who have been successful while maintaining a social conscience. They care for their employees by treating them fairly with fair pay, fair benefits and security. They inspire a sense of achievement: The employees are proud of what they do and the company they do it for. They promote camaraderie: The employees feel they are part of a team effort and they work well together. I admire leaders who consistently attempt to strike a balance of profits, environmental, community and people concerns.
WHAT’S YOUR CAN’T-MISS TV SHOW?
“Law and Order.” I love the law, with all its flaws and frustrations, as every once in a while justice gets done. It is really something to witness when that happens. I have been watching this show for years.
BEYOND WORK, WHAT ONE THING DO YOU WANT TO DO OR ACCOMPLISH IN LIFE?
I want to complete an Ironman (triathlon). I am an avid endurance athlete. I’ve done the vertical mile on stairs, I’ve run marathons, and I’ve completed triathlons. I love competing. I love the challenge of it. I love the discipline and sacrifice it takes, which then spills over into other areas of my life. It’s the ultimate challenge. I can’t imagine a more amazing feeling than crossing the finish line and hearing the announcer say that I am an Ironman.
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
I have a Facebook account for family, friends and my teammates for athletic events. It has been fantastic to keep up with friends, my daughter, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters that are scattered around the country and world. With LinkedIn, I have accepted all comers asking me to link with them. I have plans to start using this in the next calendar year to promote webinars, classes and my blogs. I also belong to a couple of excellent groups on LinkedIn that have terrific interaction on subjects of interest. Twitter I am not on, nor following anyone. I have not had time to check into the value of this yet. From a social standpoint, is anyone that interesting that we need to hear about their every move during the day? I don’t think so.