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2019 Break Out Awards, South: Berri Willis

Posted On: Jun. 1, 2019 12:00 AM CST

Berri Willis


Managing director

Burns & Wilcox Ltd., a unit of H.W. Kaufman Group

Morehead City, North Carolina

Age: 34

Berri Willis, world traveler and college fashion major, entered the insurance field after she met a Burns & Wilcox Ltd. managing director while working an hourly job at a real estate company. She liked Ms. Willis’ moxie and offered her a job. Eleven years later, Ms. Willis now holds that woman’s position and says the constantly evolving industry fulfills her need for change.

What is the No. 1 concern in your specialty?

In North and South Carolina, I would say the rates. We have not been operating at the accurate rate of where we should be over the last couple of years now. The market needs to strengthen … a big concern of mine is getting rates to where they need to be.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

Being a squeaky wheel and keeping an entrepreneurial spirit and thinking outside of the box are the biggest things that you can do.

What surprised you about the insurance industry?

It’s not as boring as I thought it was going to be. Risk in general is just very intriguing. It surprised me how interesting it is and how much it’s a part of every individual’s life and they don’t even know it.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Two things most people don’t see me as is an outdoorswoman and a traveler. I like to travel solo … I really enjoy spontaneous adventure. I like to kayak and fish with my husband. I caught my largest fish on a kayak!

What is your favorite meal?

My husband is a fisherman and brings fresh fish home all the time. Fresh fish and some fresh vegetables from the farmers market with a glass of wine is my ideal.


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