November 2, 2018 by Sarah Cunningham-Scharf
Christopher Graves first entered the insurance industry as a surety intern, and he’s come a long way since then. He’s now vice-president of Marsh Canada’s national construction practice.
“I always had a fascination with construction,” Graves says. “It’s a very client-facing business—you’re highly involved in their day-to-day—compared to some other kinds of insurance, where it’s an annual conversation.”
Seeing a major project through to completion—from the tender process to construction, optimization and maintenance—is his favourite part of the job.
“To say you had some part in these very large projects that everyone’s aware of and can see going up—that, for me, is the key.”
Graves says networking was an important part of building his client base and advancing through the ranks.
“The construction business is fairly small—folks mix and speak a lot,” he says. “If you’re known in that space, it’s more likely people hear your name.”
He worked his way from associate client executive to VP at Marsh within two years by becoming an expert on the industry and talking to clients about what matters most to them.
“Instead of having an insurance-focused discussion, where a lot of clients tend to lose interest, it’s a discussion about their business,” he says. “By doing that, it enables you to understand the things that keep them up at night much better.”
For other young people looking to advance in the insurance industry, Graves suggests, “Pick your niche. There are different views on whether you should be a specialist or a generalist, but when you get into the larger space, being a specialist is key.”