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ALEX BURTON Area president

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Birmingham, Alabama

Alex Burton’s father, who had studied insurance in college in the 1960s, told him just as he was heading to Mississippi State University in 2005 to study the same subject: No matter what, everybody needs insurance. The notion became more real a month into his freshman year when Hurricane Katrina plowed through the campus. Three years later, he joined Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for a summer internship and never left.

What is the biggest challenge of working through the pandemic?

I love to talk and connect, and I love being around our clients, our prospective clients and our colleagues in person. It has been difficult working out of the basement of my home and not being able to be around those people.

What should the industry do to attract more young people to work in it?

It is such a hidden industry. What we can do is promote the easily identifiable benefits of the industry, at least to college students. We are in the business of helping people and putting lives and businesses together and it is a very rewarding industry.

What is something about you that would surprise people?

I am fascinated with aviation. That would come from my father, who got an insurance degree but was an airline captain with Northwest Airlines for 40 years. The first time he was on a plane was to attend school with Travelers Insurance; he ended working for them for a while and then went on to learn how to fly.

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

I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self that things are temporary. Spend time with those that you love and hold dearest.

All-time favorite movie?

“Saving Private Ryan.”

What is your favorite meal?

I love a steak, a loaded baked potato and a salad.

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