7 Questions for CPCU Society’s Stacey Hinterlong

CPCU Stacey Hinterlong recounts her insurance career journey and the role the CPCU Society has played in building it.
By: | June 6, 2022

Continuing to learn and grow is part of what has helped Stacey Hinterlong, CPCU, senior account executive, State Auto Insurance, thrive in the industry.

Hinterlong recently sat down with Risk & Insurance® to discuss her inspiring career, starting with her time as a risk management and insurance student.

She tells us how early involvement with the CPCU Society, Gamma Iota Sigma, and strong professional mentors shaped her career and helped her excel at work and in her studies.

Risk & Insurance: You’ve had an interesting journey into insurance starting with your time as a student at Illinois State. Can you share a little about your path as a student and now a professional in the risk and insurance industry?

Stacey Hinterlong: I started as a major in actuarial sciences and was introduced to the insurance fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma. I learned very early on that being an actuary was not my career path but because of GIS, I had become interested in insurance.

I decided to change my major to Insurance and added a double major in Finance. With that, I became very involved with GIS and ISU’s Katie School of Insurance.

When the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend the CPCU Annual Meeting was advertised, I thought it sounded like a unique scholarship opportunity and I liked that it would be an experience to provide networking opportunities with possible future employers. I was very excited to be selected and didn’t realize at the time that I was the first student ambassador (2009).

Networking during the event, we realized that students should be at every CPCU Annual Meeting, and I was asked to help put together a program that students from all over the U.S. can attend.

Interested in sports? Become a sports broker. Interested in theater? You can become a producer that works with the various theaters on Broadway.

We reached out to various (CPCU) chapters for financial support and various colleges to have students apply for the scholarship. In 2010 we had 25 students at the (CPCU) Annual Meeting from a variety of colleges. We also had a session for students with a panel, and the room was packed because everyone wanted to know and interact with the students; it was a hit.

I graduated and took a job at a wholesale broker where they preferred me to get my CIC, so I pursued that designation. Then I took a job with a standard career as a small commercial sales rep and was supported in taking my CPCU. I received my CPCU in 2018 and got involved in my local chapter. The following year I took a position on the chapter board.

Now, in 2022 I am our chapter’s VP and was excited to attend the CPCU Leadership Summit. I learned that the student program is now an annual thing and I’m so excited to see this momentum.

R&I: How did being sponsored as a student by the Europe Chapter of the CPCU Society to attend the Prague meeting change your perspective on your career, insurance and risk management, and future opportunities?

SH: After helping coordinate the movement of student involvement at the annual meeting, I was introduced to the 3IG (the International Insurance Interest Group of the CPCU Society). Networking with this interest group brought them the idea of having me present to their membership about Insurance from a Student’s Perspective at their 10th Anniversary meeting in Prague, Czech Republic.

I received a scholarship to go to Prague for a week. Interacting with so many different individuals in the industry was extremely beneficial. My biggest takeaway from the CPCU Society Annual Meeting and going to Prague was that there are so many different opportunities within the insurance industry — so many different career options depending on your interest and talents.

Interested in sports? Become a sports broker. Interested in theater? You can become a producer that works with the various theaters on Broadway.

Sales, claims, underwriting, accounting, writing, analytics, introverts or extroverts, front line or behind the scenes… The list of career options could go on forever. The breadth of the insurance industry is so much that there is truly a career path for anyone and everyone.

R&I: How can our industry encourage more students to consider insurance and risk management as a career?

SH: Knowing that insurance and risk management are the basis for infinite possibilities, I encourage everyone to explore all the opportunities. I have met so many amazing people, developed lifelong friendships, developed personally and professionally, and the sky is the limit. I enjoy what I do, and I love helping people. I love being challenged and getting to grow my skill set.

R&I: You’ve earned several impressive industry designations, like the CPCU and ARe. Can you share how being curious and continuing to learn has affected your career and your life?

SH: “Be a lifelong learner” was advice I received early in my life and this has been reinforced many times throughout my career. We are in an ever-changing world. The more you know, the more you can help others, and insurance is all about helping people.

The availability and variety of the designations also have allowed me to develop my career. I started on the wholesale side as an in-house underwriter and now work in sales for the carrier side of the industry focused on business development.

R&I: During your career, you’ve taken chances and pursued opportunities in different companies and roles. How have you embraced change and thrived in new environments?

SH: The insurance industry is like a puzzle: there are so many pieces to it, and you need to put them all together to make it work. Most of the roles I have moved into, I didn’t even realize existed when I first graduated college and took my first position.

As I would network, I would learn about new exciting roles, and that prompted most of my job changes. Almost every job I have had, was because someone encouraged me to apply. And that is why I stress the importance of networking.

I think embracing change is what allowed me to excel. I didn’t always look at it as change, but more so as a new opportunity and a challenge. I like completing tasks.

A phrase I say often is “become comfortable with being uncomfortable”.  If I wasn’t taking those challenges and being open to new opportunities, then I know I wouldn’t be as successful as I have been.

R&I: What is the best advice you received when you were a student or early in your career that has helped shape you?

SH: Get involved early and often.  The more variety of things you partake in, the more clarity you will receive on your interests, passions, talents, and skills. Be open to exploring. Ask questions!

Have confidence and courage. Take risks. We are in the business of risk, it makes sense to take calculated risks and know that you can always pivot, change, and adjust. Seek mentors and be willing to accept constructive criticism. I am always asking for feedback and advice.

R&I: What inspires you?

SH: I am always in competition with myself. I want to always be a better version of myself than I was the day, week, month, or the year before. I am inspired by being better. I also am inspired by my family. They make me want to be better so that I can provide a life for them of excitement and joy.

My family loves to travel, so in the sales and business development role, I am inspired to hit my numbers and goals, knowing that a bonus means more travel.

I am also inspired by helping people. Seeing someone “get something” or learn, develop, and grow is so exciting. I love mentoring people and seeing them succeed. I love helping my clients succeed and hit their goals, plans, and incentives. &

Abi Potter Clough, MBA, CPCU, is a keynote speaker, author and business consultant focused on Insurtech, leadership and strategy. She has over 15 years of experience at a Fortune 500 company with expertise in P&C claims operational leadership, lean management consulting, digital communications and Insurtech. As the past chair of the International Insurance Interest Group of the CPCU Society, Abi remains involved in many international initiatives and projects. She has published two books about change management and relocation. Abi can be reached at [email protected].

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