Julie Hespe of QBE North America Says Insurance Gets the Job Done Right

According to this SVP, insurance does a great job at supporting the community, offering a multitude of career paths and providing strong benefits for those who take the opportunity.
By: | October 23, 2019

Julie Hespe is excited to see the insurance industry grow.

“I have been excited by the industry’s embrace of diversity & inclusion as well as sustainability.”

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But more progress is still needed, she said. “We are all responsible for moving the needle forward. Customer experience and service are always improving, and putting the client front-and-center continues to evolve. Technology continues to be a disruptor to the business, helping to provide progress and offering new career opportunities.”

According to Hespe, improving customer experience, soliciting less information for quoting and providing an easier, faster claim reporting and processing practice will help the insurance industry continue to advance.

As for technology, she said the insurance industry needs to respond to and adjust for some of the long-term trends that are showing areas for potential disruption. Insurers need to keep an eye on the future of work, the impact of technology and product development around IoT and other technologies, she said.

But it is these very innovations that keep Hespe moving, motivated to do the best job she can.

“My career has had both big and small accomplishments,” she said. “There’s no one thing or one moment that stands out over another for me.

“My success barometer is our team meeting our business plans. It’s so important to recognize the so-called little accomplishments as they energize you to do more. Celebrating your wins, however big or small, reinforces the positive attitude and behavior you want to show up when you face the new challenges or opportunities ahead,” Hespe said.

Now, as the senior vice president of core commercial and workers’ compensation programs for QBE North America, Hespe continues her efforts to embrace the innovations of the industry, developing and executing strategic underwriting plans that drive QBE’s core commercial and WC products.

“I manage program administrator relationships by overseeing and evaluating new and renewal business, defining risk parameters and capitalizing on opportunities for continuous improvement,” she explained.

Stepping Into a Career

Hespe began her career in insurance on the carrier side as an underwriter.

At the time, Hespe said, she had just graduated from college with a biology degree.

“I joined an environmental underwriting team,” she explained.

“The job started as a way to earn money for graduate school, but I liked it so much, especially the people, the risk analysis, negotiations and team environment, that I stayed.”

It was there that her passion grew: As a newly minted underwriter, Hespe realized she was in control.

“I realized that I enjoyed being the ‘CEO’ of my own business — analyzing the needs and requests of the business as well as my clients and reaching decisions based on balancing the risk and rewards for both,” she said.

“I started by running my own desk, and I mastered that. I then started taking on increased management responsibilities, and with each new responsibility and risk came more expertise in the field.”

Hespe credits her mentorship and values back to her family. It was the lessons she learned at her family business that prepared her to take on a career in insurance.

“When I was working in our family business, my parents taught me so much about customer satisfaction, paying great attention to detail and the need to drive results. My development and accountability started there, and since then I have tried to see the value in all my experiences — taking the good and the bad and learning from it all.”

Why Insurance? 

“Insurance is a dynamic industry providing a wide range of job opportunities from operations, IT, underwriting, finance, sales & marketing, client relations and more,” said Hespe.

Having a diverse offering of roles and areas to explore separates insurance from other careers in Hespe’s mind. A multitude of career paths stem from the common understanding of insurance.

“It is an industry where various personalities and diverse talents can find their fit. This smorgasbord allows one to continue to build skills yet experience different parts of the industry.”

And as young professionals grow in the career, they have an opportunity to try out the best fit for them, too: “Insurance has greater opportunities for growth and opportunities [for young professionals] to experiment and appraise new segments of the industry and find the right path for them.”

For Hespe, it has always been the diversity of work in underwriting and the business management aspect of the insurance industry that has her hooked.

“I love that this industry provides continuous learning opportunities where you are applying your expertise yet constantly discovering how different businesses work, recognizing industry trends and being responsive to the technological changes in this business,” she said.

Getting It Right

Inherently, this industry’s ultimate job is to transfer risk from an individual or company to a facility that will handle or absorb that risk.

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Hespe says the industry gets it right.

“From an employee prospective, I think the industry has done a very good job at supporting our communities, offering a multitude of career paths, and providing strong compensation and benefits for those who take the opportunity.

“The situations and issues are constantly changing, and ultimately you are creating solutions for your team and for your clients. The business management side aligns you with a diverse group of people and departments within the company — operations, legal, accounting, HR, claims — it’s so rewarding.

“Each day is new,” she said, “with fresh perspectives, inventive problem solving and innovative strategies. Pooling these different segments together delivers a winning business strategy and provides our customers with solutions for their current and emerging needs.” &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]