Women of September 2020: Kristy Sands

Tell us a little about yourself and who you are? I am Kristy Sands, VP Communications for Gallagher Bassett. I have been with GB for over 20 years, starting as an adjuster, and have had the opportunity to hold a variety of positions within GB that have allowed me to contribute to the organization in alignment with the evolution of my experience and skills in the industry. I live in South Florida with my husband Steve, and my son, Luke, a high school senior. I also have a daughter, Olivia, who is a senior at the University of Central Florida.

How does a day in your life look like these days? Being a communications professional in our current environment creates a vast array of opportunities to engage with both our own employees as well as the insurance market. I spend a great deal of time talking to our people and determining the best way to get the message out about the great things they are doing at GB and connecting folks to others that can help move initiatives forward. A big part of my position is promoting recognition and appreciation of the expertise of our people. I do a lot of writing and talking - the perfect place for a communicator to be every day!

What makes you unique? I am a pragmatic optimist or an optimistic pragmatist. I look for the silver lining in any situation and apply it to other circumstances. I can remember the lyrics to almost any song I have ever heard. I love fantasy football and have won the championship in my league more than once! I take copious notes and write furiously. I have notebooks of ideas that I refer back to all the time.

What is your “why?” What inspires you every day to do more/better? Knowing and seeing the best in people and situations allows me to show empathy in cases of conflict, and positivism in circumstances where there are steep challenges. Remaining energetic and upbeat raises others, and that's what I love to do. Whether talking to an injured worker who is having a rough time, helping a colleague overcome a tricky challenge, or just encouraging the family to be their best, having a can-do attitude helps others, and sometimes even myself.

Tell us about your career and how you got started? I began my career as a claims adjuster, which was NOT my plan at all. My plan at graduation was to have a career in television news. But, my dad, an insurance risk manager, encouraged me to consider it. He even pointed to a woman who continues to be my mentor, and said, "look at her career - insurance is a great place to be." He was right - and I have never looked back. As my skills grew, I advocated for myself, actively seeking promotional and stretch opportunities. As my network grew, so did my interactions with those who had moved to Account Management, Sales, and Communications. I asked a lot of questions about what they did and worked towards gaining the skills I would need in positions I was interested in. I have never been shy about my goals, and have always had confidence that I could accomplish what I set out to achieve, even if I had to be flexible in recognizing what success looked like.

What are your future goals? Personally, I want to make sure that the people in my life know how much I love and respect them and will continue to support them. I have 2 graduating seniors, and as I look ahead, I have ideas for them, but know that their goals are unique to them, and I want to offer support and help as they choose their path to what makes them happy. I want to continue my contributions to the charities and organizations that mean the most to me, like Give Kids the World and Dive in. Professionally, I am encouraged by the increased appreciation for communication, recognition, and understanding, particularly around the diversity of thought in the insurance industry. As a member of Gallagher Bassett's E, I & D group, and chair of Dive In Miami, I want to attract and retain new talent to the insurance industry. The opportunities in this field are limitless, regardless of your passions and skills. I look forward to a day when anyone feels accepted in working in insurance and valued for who they are and what they are capable of.

How do you empower other women? We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. I have been afforded opportunities by both men and women in the industry that have put me into a position that allows me to speak for underrepresented professionals. I challenge others to look beyond what they are capable of doing now and think about what better looks like, and then encourage them to take the next small or large steps to make a positive change. One thing I continually hear is, "I got passed over. They should have offered me that (raise, job, opportunity)." My first question is, "Did you ask for it, or look into what it would take to get it?" I encourage women to pursue opportunity, not wait until it is offered. We've all seen the study showing that women don't apply for a position unless they have 100% of the skills it would take to meet the description. Men, on the other hand, apply if they have 60% of the skills. You can't hold yourself back because you don't check all of the boxes. There is an expectation of growth in every new position. Don't be afraid of going for it and be ready to learn as much as you need to to be successful. Whether it is one-on-one, speaking in professional associations and forums, like the Alliance of Women in Workers Compensation or Dive In. or simply making a connection between two parties that could benefit working together, there is always an opportunity to lift and give visibility to other women. At the end of the day, we all make choices that have the potential to change our paths. I help others realize that they are empowered to take steps to create opportunities and change, personally and professionally.


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