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Corporate Culture

The Value of a Mentor

Kari Cooling
Kari Cooling
Sr. Vice President and Managing Director, Brokerage Services - Iowa

It doesn’t seem possible, but 20 years ago this summer, I joined Holmes Murphy as an intern. I gulp when I type that out as I feel like this was just yesterday.

As I was reflecting back on my time at Holmes Murphy a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think about my feelings of joining Holmes Murphy that spring. I’ll be honest, I was very excited about having a REAL internship for the summer in Des Moines, but the idea of being in insurance wasn’t the most exciting thing for me.

Fast forward to the start of my internship and, by Day 1, I knew I had made the right decision. As the days and weeks progressed, I became engrained in the company, learned more about insurance, and met wonderful colleagues.

The second summer, I had the opportunity to visit four of our other offices. By the end of that summer, I had met almost all the employees at Holmes Murphy (we were a lot smaller then!). What an awesome opportunity. While this was great for me, Holmes Murphy had the opportunity to basically interview me over the course of two years…and as evidenced right now, they hired me. Yay!

Upon graduation in 2003, I started at Holmes Murphy in our Des Moines office for sales training with our CEO and also rolled up my sleeves learning insurance with our small business team. About a year later, I moved to Cedar Rapids where I still am today.

Now, you may be wondering — yes, I am a millennial…barely. And yes, I know it is unique that 20 years later I am still with the same organization.

Why am I here? It’s about the people. I truly believe that people drive the performance of the organization. They set the culture, and Holmes Murphy has one amazing culture.

For me, early on, I was so impressed by how many people took an interest in me. So many wanted to see me succeed and were willing to do whatever necessary to make that happen. Being a young person in the insurance industry and knowing that anyone would take the time to help me out was so encouraging. I have had some fantastic, selfless mentors along the way.

So now 20 years later, I’m still here. I have grown to love insurance. My love for Holmes Murphy continues to grow, and now it’s my turn to pay it forward by helping our young talent navigate through our business.

Being a mentor actually has helped me continue to grow. I have gotten so much energy from helping others learn and succeed. Yes, it takes time, but it so incredibly gratifying and rewarding.

I think every organization needs strong mentoring for their new employees, especially youth entering the field.

I actually looked into this a bit to see if mentoring is indeed as popular and important as I think it should be. I found that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. They’ve all learned that investing in leadership capability pays off in performance, productivity, and innovation.

Do you believe this? What are your thoughts? Do you have a mentorship program, and if so, what does it entail? I’d love to hear from you as we look to elevate our own mentorship program within Holmes Murphy. So, reach out!

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