When I returned to New Jersey from Southeast Asia in the autumn of 2008, I was underweight, nearly out of money, frayed and ragged from the journey and knew almost nothing about insurance.
I had set out alone after graduating from Champlain College, brandishing my only formal credential — a degree in professional writing — and embarked on a career as a paid writer, covering a mix of geopolitics and local events for an English-language newspaper in Phuket, Thailand.
When I returned home in December 2008, I began work at Summit Business Media. Five years later, I am ending my career with Summit Professional Networks’ flagship publication, National Underwriter Life & Health and my career as a journalist, and joining the communications department at Prudential Financial.
In an attempt to avoid having my final column read like a long thank-you note or an acceptance speech at the Oscars, I will shun the urge to rattle off the names of the individuals who nurtured my career and instead speak holistically about the experience that brought me to where I sit today.
I entered the world of insurance with a nebulous understanding of how the mechanics of the business worked. In fact, I entered the business world at a time where the mechanics of everything seemed to be in a state of upheaval. Watching the financial crisis unfold behind my desk at my first ‘real’ job out of college was a truly formative experience for me.
I promised myself that I would avoid the hackneyed quotes and aphorisms that usually pepper farewell speeches — or columns, for that matter. However, the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in in interesting times,” is one proverb that I cannot avoid mentioning.
My career covering the industry has coincided with a flurry of activity that is altering, sculpting and dictating the future of a business that will continue to provide security for individuals across the country and the world. Although this flurry of activity has not been pretty, the industry has handled this period of relative turmoil with thoughtfulness, passion and aplomb.