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Coming to the United States from India in 1979, shortly after graduating college, I got my first job with Fireman’s Fund in San Francisco. After moving to New Orleans, I shifted to New England Life and then Mass Mutual, working in customer service and support positions. It was a bit out of my comfort zone, then, when one of the largest consulting firms, Johnson & Higgins, offered me a consulting position. I’d never sold in my life, but I decided to go for it – and I loved it.
Knowing the products from the service and support side, I could sell from a position of detailed, genuine understanding. I did really well but, being salaried, effort and reward became increasingly mismatched. In 1995, I decided to take the leap out on my own.
As an immigrant woman now living in the Southern United States with no historical ties to the area, building my own firm in a very relationship-centric and male-dominated business required a lot of effort and persistence. The success I achieved was immensely rewarding. Clients really appreciated the work we did for them and became advocates, referrals, and a network for solid organic growth. After 25 years, realizing I wasn’t getting any younger, I began looking for a company to buy what I had built.
My biggest fear in selling was getting caught up in a rigid bureaucracy. In discussing offers from larger competitors, I found very black-and-white structures with no room for flexibility to do what I knew would ensure my success. I looked for the right firm for two years before falling in love with Risk Strategies – from the people and culture, to the overall approach.
Risk Strategies CFO John Vaglica was one of my initial points of contact and I just loved how fair, reasonable, direct and transparent he was in our discussions. During negotiations, before I’d even decided to sell, I was invited to the company’s annual sales conference in Florida. Meeting everyone, from practice leaders to producers and client service and operational support staff, convinced me that the people I’d initially met - John Vaglica, Risk Strategies’ Founder Mike Christian, Benefits Practice Leader John Greenbaum - were truly representative of a smart, genuine, collaborative culture.
After selling, I felt no regrets. The practical benefits were immediate. I was able to step away from time-consuming operational support issues, our clients had much greater access to markets and analytics, and we could easily tap national-level expertise and resources as-needed to meet client needs. I’m able to thoughtfully build my staff to grow revenue and support business, and directly communicate with the firm’s top executives without hierarchy or bureaucratic barriers. But I also got something more personally meaningful in choosing Risk Strategies - a firm that would be a proper steward for my legacy.
I never really wanted to sell to one of the behemoth firms that already dominated my region. I spent 25 years building a successful business competing against them, and providing clients a real choice in the market. I wanted to go with a company that I could help establish in my market and cement that success. That was clearly Risk Strategies.
The practical benefits were immediate. I was able to step away from timeconsuming operational support issues, our clients had much greater access to markets and analytics, and we could easily tap national-level expertise and resources as-needed to meet client needs.