Nationwide agent Roger Downs, homeowner Mike Hicks, Nationwide EVP & Chief Marketing Officer Terrance Williams
by Terrance Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Not many kids grow up wanting to work in insurance. I did. When looking at colleges, I only considered those that offered an actual insurance degree—at the time there weren’t many programs to choose from.
Fast forward to today, and I’m proud to say I’ve worked in the industry for 26 years, more than 20 of them at Nationwide. That’s a long time at one company, and I’ve served in many roles and made a lot of memories. But when I was recently asked about my favorite memory from my two-plus decades here, I knew exactly which one to share.
In 2011, I was leading Nationwide’s southeast region when a tornado of historic proportions hit Tuscaloosa, Ala. I was on the ground within 24 hours, touring with agents and working with the American Red Cross. I had been in the aftermath of many catastrophic events, but I had never seen anything quite as devastating as this.
While inspecting the storm’s damage, a colleague and I went to a Nationwide-insured home. By the time we arrived the house itself was all but gone. The only things that remained were the foundation and twisted pipes sticking out of the concrete slab.
In the midst of utter wreckage, the homeowner walked over to us—full of joy. He said he and his wife were in the house when the storm hit and they hid under a stairwell, wrapped themselves in a blanket and prayed. He said he had lost all of his tangible possessions, but God had kept them safe. Now they could rebuild.
At its core, that’s what we do in insurance. We help people rebuild their lives after tragic events – to the degree that money and caring can. This story is just one example of the kinds of motivating memories I take with me to work every day, and one of the main reasons this career has been so fulfilling.
There are a vast number of career options to explore in insurance and financial services. I know that sounds a bit counterintuitive to some, because most people probably think sales or claims are the only choices in our industry.
I’m living proof that isn’t the case. I’ve worked in sales, claims, underwriting, agriculture and operations. In my current position as Chief Marketing Officer, I oversee brand marketing, advertising, sports marketing, multicultural marketing, social media, analytics, public relations and communications. That’s certainly a lot more than sales and claims.
I’m passionate about helping the next generation of graduates hear and understand this message. We want to attract a diverse pool of the best and brightest to work in our industry, and one way is to bring awareness to the many opportunities that exist.
February of 2016 has been named Insurance Careers Month, designed to inspire and educate young people about the possibilities that working in insurance offers. There are many real-world examples like mine that demonstrate how satisfying an insurance career can be.
At Nationwide, we feel what we do is noble – we help people put their lives back together when they need us most. For me, my job is as much a calling as it is a career.
We often say that Nationwide is “more than a business,” which includes decades of work promoting childhood safety, collaborating with Feeding America to help fight hunger, working with the American Red Cross and partnering with United Way. That dynamic of hope combined with help has made this a great business to be a part of, and I’m confident that the more people understand what we do—and what they can do with us—the more they will consider pursuing a job in this field.
I encourage any young person who is looking for a challenging and satisfying career to consider insurance. I have never regretted my career choice. It’s a journey that continues to fulfill and challenge me every day.
I hope some of you join me …