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Assistant vice president and health care practice leader
The Safegard Group Inc.
Brian Courtney tries to mitigate risks for clients, but gambles are what's worked for him in his professional life.
“The risk taker in me forces me to get out of my comfort zone,” he said from his office in Media, Pennsylvania. “I never practice what I preach. ... I like taking chances.”
Mr. Courtney joined The Safegard Group Inc. in April 2005 and serves as the health care practice leader for the company. He is primarily responsible for the direction of client services to the health care industry, tackling such issues as claims management, loss control and incident response planning.
The insurance business itself was a risk for Mr. Courtney as a young professional who studied marketing and accounting as an undergraduate and dove into a sales consulting position with broker B.G. Balmer & Co. Inc.
“When I first came out of school, I wanted to get into an adviser role. I wanted to be in sales, but not in tangible sales,” he said. “I liked having the ability to get into a business and help them solve complex issues. Insurance was a great avenue for people to protect their business.”
Today he's earned several certifications and is a regular presenter at various state and regional industry associations, giving seminars on such topics as cyber security and sexual harassment.
That — public speaking — was another risk, he said. “I used to be afraid of getting in front of a group of people and giving a speech ...,” he said. “So I joined a local Toastmasters group. I got over my fear.”
This drive to better himself doesn't surprise colleagues, who called Mr. Courtney an asset to the firm.
“He becomes an expert on the product and coverage before he sells it,” said Apurva Upadhyay, Media-based assistant vice president at Safegard who, years ago, watched Mr. Courtney get on the forefront of such issues as cyber security. “Now he leads our team on that issue.”
“The important lesson I learned early on is I wanted this to be a career, not a job,” Mr. Courtney said.
Where will the insurance industry find the leaders of tomorrow? That's been an ever-more-urgent question as baby boomers retire in increasing numbers. The insurance industry has to compete with other industries, some of which appear to be considerably more interesting and glamorous in the public eye, for the talent without which no industry can prosper or even survive.