March 8, 2023 by Stacey Hunt
Tracey Medeiros, Senior Vice President, Canadian Operations and Claims, Gallagher
“Like most people in my generation, I didn’t graduate thinking insurance,” says Tracey Medeiros, who first applied for an entry-level filing position at a property and casualty insurer because she was getting married and needed a 9-to-5 job. It didn’t take long for Medeiros, now senior vice president of Canadian operations and claims with Gallagher, to shift into an underwriter trainee position and work her way up to senior property and casualty underwriter within her first 10 years.
She attributes her initial growth in part to a strong mentor. “I was incredibly lucky to have one of the brightest, most insightful and caring individuals I’ve ever met as my mentor, but he wouldn’t give me the answers. He would force me to think about it.”
Thinking about and learning new things kept Medeiros engaged. She says there’s never a shortage of learning or opportunities in the industry, and perhaps that’s what kept her moving around and up.
After that first decade, Medeiros took on a role as marketing manager at a brokerage but quickly realized it wasn’t what she wanted to do. She returned to an insurance company to lead a team of underwriters before being promoted to branch manager.
“I like leadership,” Medeiros explains. “I like to be a conduit for change.”
Soon she wanted more control over her destiny, and more of a say at the executive table. So she headed back to a brokerage, first as a commercial manager and eventually into the position she currently holds.
“I have to give kudos to our CEO,” she says. “He’s huge on other voices. He’s huge on saying, ‘Tell me what you think.’” Under his direction, Gallagher introduced a purposeful new theme last year, “Making the lives of our people better.”
The initiative includes a recently-implemented leadership dimension, in which people are matched with a mentor as part of a two-year program containing a diversity and inclusion component. Medeiros is proud to report 60% of Gallagher’s C-suite and senior regional leadership positions are currently held by women; that’s impressive in an industry in which she says only a third of leadership positions and about 18% of board seats belong to females.
“I think a lot of women feel they don’t have a voice,” she says. “I also think too many people, especially some young women, think asking for help could be seen as a weakness, but I would argue the opposite.”
She speaks from experience. At one time, Medeiros would turn down opportunities if she felt she didn’t know enough. Another mentor changed her way of thinking, asking her why she thought she had to do it all by herself – because you don’t.
“Take advantage of management training and mentorship sessions,” she says. “Seek access to senior leaders. Make sure the right people know you want to be a leader. Ask them what you need to do to get where you want to be. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. And make sure you remain your authentic self.
“There’s no ceiling in this industry. If you’re willing to learn and take on new challenges, you really can just keep moving.”