A career pause for family obligations, military commitments, or relocation can be challenging to overcome, even for the most qualified and experienced professional.
When faced with this very issue after two career breaks, Ginny Brzezinski found herself ready to reboot her career but was unsure how to do so, especially at the age of 52. Ginny reached out to her sister-in-law, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, founder of the women’s empowerment community, Know Your Value. The two dug deep into the topic and, in January 2020, published “Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success – At 40, 50, and Beyond.”
Crafting Your Comeback: An Interview with Ginny Brzezinski, moderated by Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute, was featured on the Wednesdays With Woodward Travelers Institute Webinar Series.
Joined by Comeback Careers co-author Mika Brzezinski and Ashley Wilson, creator of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Women Taking the Lead,” the team shared insights from their research and job market trends for professionals thinking about revaluating, reinventing, or relaunching their careers.
The three women shared a wealth of career advice to empower the job-seeker, even amidst a pandemic. Key points focused on personal assessments, updating social media accounts, reaching out to former colleagues to up your network game and adapting to the new norm – video meetings and interviews.
Watch the full webinar to learn more about Ginny and how her career and life experiences encouraged her to educate and inspire women and men looking to relaunch their careers.
Wednesdays With Woodward Travelers Institute Webinar Series interviews thought leaders about topics that impact us both personally and professionally. Travelers created the Travelers Institute to engage in public policy dialogue on issues relevant to the insurance market.
For the past ten years, more than 200 Travelers employees have upheld the Travelers Promise to take care of our customers, our community and each other by mentoring veterans through American Corporate Partners (ACP).
ACP is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping transitioning veterans and active-duty spouses find civilian careers by matching them with mentors from a broad range of industries. Travelers Community Relations signed on with ACP as its thirteenth corporate partner in 2010 as a way to expand leaders’ and managers’ mentoring options.
Since 2010, more than 200 Travelers employees have engaged in about 600 mentoring relationships with veterans, transitioning military members and active duty military spouses through ACP. To celebrate the partnership’s 10-year milestone, read the first-hand experiences of seven Travelers employees who accepted the mentoring challenge.
Hina, Senior Director, B.I. Technology Analytics, St. Paul, MN
“I’m working with my fifth protégé. One of those protégés served 20 years in the U.S. Army and already had an MBA. During his transition, I helped him gain knowledge about skills he could acquire for the current job market in his field. He was very driven and rapidly was Certified as a Scrum Master and received his Scaled Agile (SAFe) certification. Within six months, he was offered a program management position at a Fortune 500 technology company in Seattle. I get immense satisfaction from sharing my knowledge and experience with others. I help my mentees translate and map their skills from their military background – organizing and executing, dealing with conflicts, evaluating risks, etc. – to the corporate world. I take them through the journey of writing effective resumes and preparing them for interviews. I’ve become a big advocate of hiring veterans. They’re resilient, strong, rigorous and in some ways, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. It’s a truly rewarding experience.”
Daniel, Field Director, BI Construction Risk Control, Chicago, IL
“Having 13 U.S. Marines in my family – including my younger brother – compels me to help veterans. I’ve completed five mentoring relationships through ACP. What all my protégés have had in common is a feeling of uncertainty that their transition to civilian life is really happening. I put myself in their shoes and do a lot of listening. The greatest barrier they learn to work through is adapting to a civilian world that can be ambiguous and full of uncertainty. Their military careers were more ‘black and white’ and involved receiving and following orders. Once they figure that part out, the rest is easier.
I focus on building trust and a personal connection before progressing to giving advice or developing action plans. There’s no better opportunity to give back to the military. It’s very meaningful and provides
opportunities for me to learn something from them.”
Al, Associate Group General Counsel, Hartford CT
“I never served, so this provides me an opportunity to give back to the military. I’ve mentored three protégés so far. I bring them plenty of luck, with two out of the three securing jobs within months. The ACP pairs me with veterans who are interested in attending law school or seeking legal careers. I help with their resumes, letters of intent, how to study in law school, career options and preparing for the bar exam.
I’ve learned it’s helpful to research before meeting with my protégés to understand what they’ve done in the military that can contribute to a successful transition. Helping a military member transition is very satisfying; you’re doing a good deed for someone who has sacrificed so much for our country. Given veterans’ discipline and attributes, you know they’re likely to succeed in whatever career they choose.”
Rob, CAT Team Unit Manager, Denver, CO; U.S. Army & Army National Guard Veteran
“When I got out of the military, I had to assimilate how I acted and how I led others and I also needed to learn a whole new vernacular. It took me a while to adjust to civilian work, so I understand how to help vets, which allows me to continue my contribution to the military.
One of my protégés was a Command Sergeant Major. He had multiple Bronze Stars, but he was fearful about getting out of the military. I helped him build confidence and understand how his resourcefulness, knowledge and experience would serve him. He ended up getting a job in his hometown as the head of recreational tourism.
I invite each of my protégés to be a part of the process, which helps them gain a broader perspective about their own development while transitioning. ACP has been a great way for me to help veterans and to be a part of something bigger.”
Chris, BI Middle Market Business Architect, Hartford, CT; U.S. Air Force Veteran
“ACP’s ‘secret sauce’ is their hands-on engagement; they stay engaged, so that
mentors get as much, or more, out of the experience than protégés do. I’ve mentored at least ten protégés, who have had a wide range of skills and needs. One protégé was an Air Force Academy graduate who was attending the University of Chicago School of Business. I helped him evaluate several offers for summer internships, including one at a large retail chain. I helped him to think about the company behind the scenes, that any large corporation is about data and analytics. It opened his eyes to how many possibilities exist behind the company and job title.
Mentoring has also helped me grow in my career. As I’ve learned more about how large organizations work, I’ve become more confident in understanding what other companies might be looking for in candidates.”
Lisa, Senior Paralegal, Law Office of William J. Ferren & Assoc., Blue Bell, PA
“I’ve mentored eight ACP protégés since 2013. My most memorable was in the military for eight years. She had ‘Ivy League intelligence,’ but still needed encouragement to learn not to settle, to stop doubting herself and to understand her first job didn’t have to be her last. She took that advice and has succeeded in many ways. She earned a scholarship and went on to work on her doctorate. Another protégé had 20 years in the Navy but had never experienced civilian work. She was used to being given and acting on orders. Through mentoring, she learned an enormous amount about herself and how to find a setting that fit her mindset and task-orientation. As a mentor, I listen first and speak second. I try to understand where they are coming from, then guide them into the civilian world in a way that makes sense to them.”
Eric, PI Cloud Architect, Hartford, CT; U.S. Navy Veteran
“I wish ACP had been available when I got out of the military in 1998. I’m currently engaged in my fourth mentorship. My first protégé was a fascinating guy. He came out of the Army and was working on a Ph.D. in computer science. I was able to help him out personally and professionally.
My second protégé needed more help when he got out of the Navy. We did a lot of mock interviews, and I threw him curveball questions. He moved along to a position in computer science support. As a mentor, I’ve also learned things, like the importance of setting ground rules during the initial meeting. ACP is a fantastic program and lets me give back. It’s a good feeling. I’d advise anyone interested in mentoring to go for it.”
I am a trans woman, and I am transitioning while working at Travelers. I can’t say enough about how pivotal Travelers has been in my ability to transition safely and how supported I’ve felt by all levels of our organization.
As a child, my sexual and gender identity was dangerous; like too many others, I was beaten up, called names and ostracized unless I hid who I was and conformed to the binary norms of the time and place.
Today, I’m an executive at a company that makes me feel supported with standard guidelines and practices for transitioning employees, access to full health benefits and the full-throated backing for LGBTQ communities from senior leadership.
The moment I reached out to a few leaders at Travelers about my intentions, I felt validated and empowered. At 8:30 a.m. on a Monday, I had a meeting with my manager and HR representative, who had already ordered new nameplates for my office and were ready to get things moving for me.
I share all of this because “visibility” and “acceptance” are only the first steps to true inclusion. Travelers continues to work with LGBTQ employees to foster an inclusive environment in myriad ways, like adding “legal” and “preferred” name fields in employee records and supporting robust Diversity Networks to help employees find community and advocacy, being thoughtful and tuned in to the real-world needs of LGBTQ employees every step of the way.
I’m happy to say I’m doing the best work of my life! As VP of Software Engineering, I’m helping a community of thousands of engineers do their best work. As a leader, I’m also paying my privilege forward by joining in the effort to fulfill the Travelers Promise to “take care of our customers, our communities and our employees.” I hope you will join us.
Ray Fortier knows logistics. Whether through his experience as a member of the Operations Leadership Development Program at Travelers or as a captain in the Connecticut National Guard, you will find Ray ready to take on new roles and new challenges.
In early April of 2020, Ray answered the call to support the Connecticut National Guard’s COVID-19 response plan.
He sat down with us to share his experience working on the front lines of the state’s response efforts and also what it is like to be a military employee at Travelers.
What is your role at Travelers?
I am in my fourth rotation in the Operations Leadership Development Program (OLDP). My current rotation is in Technology Business Support. I serve as a liaison between the Business Insurance Field and Technology organizations. I also oversee various projects and initiatives.
How long have you been with the company?
Five years. I started right after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2015.
Tell us about your service in the Connecticut National Guard.
I’ve been serving as a logistics officer for over seven years. I spent my first two years with the 143rd Military Police Company then joined the 1048th Transportation Company, where I led a platoon of 55 soldiers focused on transporting and distributing commodities and equipment. I later moved to the role of Battalion Plans Officer (Future Operations), overseeing training and operations for a combat sustainment support battalion. In early 2020, I moved into the Plans Officer role at the 143rd Regional Support Group.
What is your current mission and role with the CTNG?
Since early April, my mission has involved overseeing Connecticut’s “Commodities Warehouse” as a part of its COVID-19 response plan. Our site is the central hub for all inbound shipments and outbound shipments for hospitals, state agencies, first responders and municipalities. I am the officer in charge of all warehouse operations, which includes inventory management, coordination of inbound and outbound shipments, transportation planning, site security and other capabilities required to make a military-run warehouse function successfully.
Why are your role and mission important to you and the community?
While stepping away from my role at Travelers was difficult, having the opportunity to assist the State of Connecticut in distributing greatly needed commodities has been one of the most fulfilling and satisfying moments of my career so far. Nurses, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and everyday citizens have needed supplies and equipment for months. Our mission is to get those supplies to these people as quickly as possible, so they can ensure the critical functions of our state are kept intact. There’s nothing more important than that.
What first-hand experiences can you share?
In the operation’s early stages, we were extremely low on a lot of requested critical personal protection equipment (PPE), like hand sanitizer, exam gloves and surgical masks. Incoming shipments were infrequent at best. Around the fourth week of our operation, I was doing my regular warehouse walks. I noticed tiny travel-sized hand sanitizers with Travelers’ logo across the side sitting in one of the aisles. As soon as I saw them, a feeling of pride swept over me and for a moment, I thought about how everyone was doing back at work. Within days they were distributed throughout Connecticut to folks who needed them. It’s funny how such a small item with our red umbrella made me feel connected to my company and coworkers after weeks of being away on this mission.
What’s it like to be a military employee at Travelers?
Working at Travelers while serving in the military has been extraordinary. Travelers has proven what it says about supporting those with military commitments. Whether it’s for normal monthly and yearly training or longer-term missions, support from the company and my leaders and fellow colleagues has been more than I could have expected. It gives me peace of mind that I can step away to serve my community and know my career will still be there when I return.
Former Travelers EDGE scholar, Kate McCollam, sat down with our team to discuss how the program affected her education, her career and ultimately her life here at Travelers.
Kate is an FMLDP participant currently supporting Corporate Audit in St. Paul, MN. She became a Travelers EDGE scholar during her second year in college and has now been working at Travelers for 2 years and 7 months. Read more below to learn about Kate’s EDGE journey.
How long have you been at Travelers?
Two years and seven months.
How did you get involved with Travelers EDGE?
In my second year at college, I became a Travelers EDGE scholar. At the time, I was looking for qualifying scholarships and being a first-generation college student in the U.S. presented the opportunity to apply and become an EDGE scholar.
How did Travelers EDGE affect your education?
I obtained an Accounting Degree in 3 years due to the support of Travelers EDGE.
When I began to pursue my accounting degree, I started at a community college. It was more affordable; I was able to work during the day and attend classes in the evening to ensure that I was making payments towards my education and would not have to address a big debt after college.
The moment I became a scholar, I was fortunate to receive financial support that gave me the freedom to take classes at the pace that I was able to address rather than at the pace I was able to afford.
How did Travelers EDGE affect your career?
Being an EDGE scholar and utilizing the internship experience and connections that I built, helped me obtain an amazing job here at Travelers. Travelers is a driving leader in the insurance industry and to be part of that is powerful.
Tell us about your current role.
I am a Financial Management Leadership Development Program (FMLDP) participant. The FMLDP is a 3-year rotational program that offers a diverse set of assignments in financial planning and analysis, internal auditing, international finance, and corporate accounting. For my current assignment, I am working within our internal auditing function where I have the chance to work with a dynamic team of talented professionals and learn about Travelers’ control environment, governance and risk management processes.
Is there anything else you wish to share?
It feels great to be part of such a vibrant community. Working at Travelers is not simply doing your job, but rather a continuous promise to be your best self and leverage the available resources to keep getting better. It is being continuously challenged, but always having a friendly resource to ensure you feel supported. It is a place where hard work, enthusiasm and professional ethic are the key drivers of the culture and I truly appreciate that.
Company Release – 2/24/2020 9:00 AM ET
Named a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation
HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) today announced that it has attained a perfect score on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, maintaining its distinction as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.
“We’re focused on creating a workplace that brings together people with different backgrounds and ensuring that our employees feel valued, respected, supported and empowered,” said Fred Colon, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Travelers. “From our hiring efforts to our training and development programs, we’re fostering an inclusive culture where all employees have the opportunity to thrive.”
Travelers supports several initiatives designed to maintain an environment that embraces diverse perspectives, including:
For more information about diversity and inclusion at Travelers, visit travelers.com/diversity.
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $32 billion in 2019. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200224005543/en/
Courtney Garro, 860.277.8719
Source: The Travelers Companies, Inc.
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Company Release – 8/8/2019 9:00 AM ET
HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) today announced that it has been named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities for the second consecutive year. The company scored 100 on the 2019 Disability Equality Index® (DEI), a comprehensive benchmarking tool that measures a company’s disability inclusion practices and policies related to culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement and supplier diversity.
“It’s an honor to be recognized once again by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities,” said Fred Colon, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Travelers. “By fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion, we’re bringing together people with different backgrounds and perspectives to encourage new ideas and innovation in everything we do.”
Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative at Travelers, and the company supports its employees with disabilities in a number of ways. In addition to staffing a centralized team committed to addressing employee accommodation requests, the company launched its disAbility Network in 2013, a resource group dedicated to promoting the understanding of people with disabilities. The group has grown to include more than 2,100 employees across the company. Travelers also works with state and local agencies in certain locations to develop career path programs for individuals with disabilities and is a member of the Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable.
“Through networking events and mentorships, the disAbility Network is shifting the focus from people’s disabilities to their abilities and bringing a greater level of awareness to the community as a whole,” said Robert Braswell, Chair of the disAbility Network at Travelers.
Travelers was also recently recognized as the Employer of the Year by Lifeworks, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that partners with companies to promote and advance employment for individuals with disabilities.
For more information about the DEI, visit disabilityin.org/what-we-do/disability-equality-index.
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $30 billion in 2018. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.
Courtney Garro, 860.277.8719
Source: The Travelers Companies, Inc.
We are so excited to announce that Travelers has been named 2019 Employer of the Year by Lifeworks for our disability hiring initiatives!
Lifeworks, a Minnesota not-for-profit that supports individuals with disabilities, selected Travelers from about 400 companies that currently partner with the organization. Travelers’ partnership with Lifeworks extends back several years, beginning with the Business Insurance Document Management team, where both parties worked together to provide employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities.
The efforts in disability hiring that stemmed from this relationship have grown, and in 2017, Travelers launched a four-week training and work-experience program for people with disabilities, centered around our Staff Counsel Business Resource Center. Since the start of this program, more than a dozen individuals have secured full-time positions with Travelers, serving as legal operations specialists.
These initiatives are prime examples of the diverse and inclusive work environment we are dedicated to fostering at Travelers. We are also proud to be named:
We know the importance of pushing past boundaries and having a workforce that represents the perspectives and ideas across race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, marital status, genetic information and sexual orientation. For more information on our D&I initiatives, click here.
You can also stay informed about our diversity and inclusion efforts by connecting with us on social media.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in a young woman’s life,” reflects Lorie Darrow, Business Insurance and Women in Actuarial and Analytics (WIAA) member. Through WIAA and the Travelers Women’s Diversity Network, Lorie and about a dozen other members from the two groups mentor students at Grace Academy, an independent and tuition-free middle school for girls from underserved families in Hartford, Connecticut.
Each week, they spend their lunch hour with the seventh- and eighth-graders, providing social and emotional support. They also help them prepare for high school, college and professional life by sharing personal experiences and engaging in activities. Over the last three years, Lorie has worked with some of the same students this school year as the mentoring commitment continues throughout the duration of the students’ time at Grace Academy.
“I am very proud to be a part of Travelers and our hands-on community outreach that fosters education and strengthens our commitment to diversity,” added Elena Antonetti, Legal Services, and Women’s Diversity Network member. “Programs like this are invaluable in helping students to think about their future. They also give us a chance to introduce more women to careers in insurance and law.”