Discovering a GREATer Environment
A love for the environment and a passion for its conservation led Jenna Prettitore to the environmental consulting field after graduating from college. However, her first professional job didn't provide the culture and relationships she was seeking in her career. Learn how Jenna discovered a GREATer, more rewarding work environment in insurance.
Describe your background and your career path in insurance.
I grew up in a small beach community on the north shore of Long Island, New York. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability from the University of New Hampshire, and worked in the environmental consulting field for more than a year after graduation. As a remote employee based in the New York City area, I was lacking face-to-face communication with my peers and being connected to a company culture. I found both when I started working at Great American two years ago in Underwriting within the Environmental team. This is my first job within the insurance industry, and I have to say, it has been amazing thus far.
How did you get interested in underwriting and a career in insurance?
A close friend works for another insurance carrier. After several conversations about the hopes for my environmental career, he described the benefits of working for an insurance company and the role of an underwriter. After researching several insurance companies and finding a job opening in New York City with Great American, I thought it was fate, and decided to apply. I felt an instant connection between my peers within New York's Environmental office during my interview. I knew that this was the place for me. I was excited and determined to learn everything about the insurance business and the Environmental team.
What is your current role in the Environmental?
As an Environmental Underwriter, I am responsible for various roles, including analyzing technical data, understanding sales and marketing, and comprehending insurance policies and risk. From a technical perspective, I analyze and assess environmental pollution risk, from commercial real estate and professional and contracting services perspectives. I'm responsible for evaluating the historic operations on a property, which may potentially have caused impacts to the soil and groundwater at the property and adjacent parcels, or vice versa. By understanding a site's environmental data, I'm able to make calculated decisions as to where coverage may be most effectively placed on a policy and where it must be excluded.
As an insurance underwriter, I'm equally a marketing and sales representative. It is my responsibility to be the knowledgeable liaison between the policyholder and my brokers. It's important to note that half of this position involves marketing our environmental products and maintaining relationships with brokers. I've learned that insurance is a relationship business; you are only as effective as the connections you make and the relationships that you uphold.
What do you like most about working in insurance?
I love the company culture at Great American and within the environmental insurance industry. It is a relatively small knit group of open-minded professionals who love to share their experiences and connect on everything from insurance to personal hobbies and interests. I also really enjoy the marketing aspects of insurance; you are able to connect with people nationwide.
In addition, Great American has so many continuing education programs and opportunities. I was lucky enough to participate in both the Thrive program for early career professionals, where I learned about other business entities and their daily obligations, and the Connecting Great Americans program, where I met employees from all over the company. As a participant, I listened to AFG's Co-CEO, Carl Lindner, and strategized on ways to continue to develop and grow as a Great American employee. One other plus for me is having a work/life balance. Great American values its employees and understands that time off is just as important as the work that is completed during time in office.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in insurance?
I have three key pieces of advice for individuals starting a career in insurance. First, maintain an open mind. You will meet individuals from all walks of life with various views and opinions. It is important to learn from every conversation. Second, consider going the extra mile in everything that you do. Learn from your peers and ask for help when you need it! Finally, do not hesitate when it comes to new opportunities. Whether it is working with a new account or brokerage, taking an opportunity to travel, or participating in a prospective internal learning and development program – seize the opportunity to try something new, as you never know what you will learn or the connections you will make along the way.