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Senior vice president of strategic development
Hays Group Inc., dba Hays Companies
Vanessa Longnecker says seeing “the ins and outs at every level” during her 15 years with Hays Companies gives her a unique perspective on developing the talent on her team.
The Minneapolis-based senior vice president of strategic development jokes that she's gone from sharing a table in a conference room to her own office overlooking Nicollet Mall.
“It's simply the best journey that I could have possibly hoped for,” Ms. Longnecker said.
Having joined Hays as an intern in 1999 with the opportunity to learn from “the best of the best,” Ms. Longnecker said developing team members is extremely important.
When she accepted a full-time position with Hays in 2001, she became employee No. 42, she said, adding that the brokerage now employs about 750 people nationally.
“I strongly believe that we're only as strong as our weakest link,” Ms. Longnecker said.
“I don't say that because we need to off our weakest link, but because we need to build and develop that weakest link so we can all learn and be a team.”
Julia Bertrand, a benefits consultant at Hays, said she's known Ms. Longnecker for 10 years, “both professionally and as a friend.”
“She's very highly respected, she's a very forward-thinking leader at Hays Cos., and truly has a gift to make co-workers and clients, anyone around her, feel valued,” Ms. Bertrand said.
What really sets Ms. Longnecker apart is her ability to challenge and motivate her co-workers to excel.
“Things are changing so quickly in our industry, and we all are constantly learning from each other,” Ms. Bertrand said. “Her ability to implement internal processes and drive improvement ... is truly a gift that she has and that she shares with the company.”
Talent is the lifeblood of the insurance brokerage business. That's easy enough to say, but finding that talent is anything but easy. Finding and cultivating the best and brightest takes time and commitment — on the part of the brokerage and the part of the person hired.