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JOHN DENEEN Underwriting manager

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

Centennial, Colorado

John Deneen studied economics and international affairs in college, but found insurance was a much more approachable industry and that excess and surplus lines in particular was an interesting sector. He was promoted to underwriter at Burns & Wilcox around the time cannabis was legalized in Colorado and has developed expertise in that niche.

What is the biggest challenge of working through the pandemic?

Just being disconnected from my teammates, because insurance is such a relationship-driven industry, and visiting with both our colleagues within the company as well as our carriers and agency partners is a really critical piece of what we do. It’s been a learning process to adapt to doing video calls and webinars and local phone calls.

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

There’s plenty of opportunity in the insurance space to really develop your own niche and really create the role that you want to build for yourself, and you shouldn’t be limited by what opportunities you see in front of you.

How will your work change going forward?

We would certainly like to continue to see more carriers stepping into the cannabis space, which would be beneficial to the end customers because there would be more competition and more options for customers to choose from, and that would result in better coverage and pricing for the customers.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I lived in Panama for six months before starting my insurance career. I was volunteering and working at a local business.

What do you know now that you wish you knew at 18?

In addition to choosing a career that interests you, pursue a vocation that allows you to live the type of lifestyle that you want.