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Recapping the RISE Leadership Summit & Awards Gala

RISE (Rising Insurance Star Executives) held its second annual Leadership Summit & Awards Gala on May 23–24, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Industry veterans representing several disciplines within the insurance industry gathered to share their expertise and make connections with the up-and-coming professionals who attended.

RISE was founded in 2017 with the overall mission of growing, recognizing, and advancing the best young professional talent in the insurance industry. Amy Cooper, Founder of RISE and VP — Carrier Practice Sales at Gallagher Bassett (GB), recognized the need to create an organization that could support the new entrants to the industry. 

The Leadership Summit & Awards Gala dedicates time to professional development and networking, all to inspire the next generation of talent.

Several GB team members attended the two-day event, where they participated in the activities and celebrated the industry’s future. We sat down with a few of them to hear their experiences and key takeaways.

Presentations and Speakers

The event featured several keynote presentations and panels with speakers from across the industry, with topics spanning leadership, communication strategies, culture, professional development, and more. Dave Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at GB, spoke about finding one’s “leadership tune” in his musically themed keynote Rock Your Role. He encouraged attendees to develop their leadership style by creating meaningful experiences for themselves and their teams, building their confidence, and inspiring those they lead.

What do you hope RISE attendees took away from your Rock Your Role presentation at the Leadership Summit & Awards Gala?

Dave Gordon (DG): I hope the audience came away from my presentation with the understanding that no matter what role you have at work, or in life, you have an obligation to bring your best every day. If Bruce Springsteen can sing “Born to Run” for forty years with the same passion every time he gets on stage, then we should do the same in our careers. The thing we have in common is that we are always “on a stage,” and we all have an audience that is paying for an inspiring performance, so why shouldn’t they get our best every time? With that in mind, I hope people remember that their roles are theirs to make their own.

When you think about the next generation of insurance professionals you encountered at RISE, what stands out to you?

DG: The next generation understands that businesses cannot thrive without organizations that help them limit the impact of risk, which makes insurance a very cool industry to have a career in. In addition, they also care deeply about their communities and look for opportunities to ensure that they and their organizations focus on purpose just as much as they focus on performance.


Workshops and Networking

RISE also offers workshops and activities throughout the event that focus on developing attendees’ professional skills and industry connections. The Speed Mentoring session, a crowd favorite, introduces upcoming professionals to career veterans.

What was a highlight from the Leadership Summit & Awards Gala, and why did it stand out to you?

Joe Berrios: I was delighted to see fellow industry leaders being so generous with their time. They were very engaged while providing valuable advice and attention to the newer members of our industry. For those who brought fellow colleagues with them, it was a rewarding experience and great investment in their growing potential. I’m looking forward to next year’s event and I am excited about where our industry is headed with these impressive young professionals.

Caryn Siebert (CS): As the RISE 2020 Mentor of the Year, it was an honor to be involved in the Speed Mentoring session, where there were 300 people full of energy and ideas. With a mentor at each of the thirty tables, mentees rotated every nine minutes to gain insights from the thirty industry veterans who were ready, willing, and able to offer insights and advice. I loved being able to meet the shining stars of the next generation of insurance professionals while also catching up and exchanging ideas with seasoned executives. Attendees did not view one another as competitors but rather as industry colleagues all looking to further their careers, learn from one another, connect with each other, and create a positive experience for these RISE professionals.


The Awards Gala

The two-day event wrapped with the Awards Gala, recognizing the winners of the RISE 35 Under 35 Award, the Mentor of the Year Award, the LEAD Award, and the Elite 50 Internships. GB’s Sarah LaWall, Business Development Manager, was one of the RISE Award honorees.

Sarah joined GB in March 2022 and is primarily responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities within the London Insurance Market. She supports the organization’s growth by expanding its ability to help clients achieve superior outcomes.

What does winning the RISE award mean to you?

Sarah LaWall: I am honored to be a 35 Under 35 Award recipient. My career so far has been truly serendipitous, and I’d be remiss not to thank my mentors, family, friends, and GB colleagues, who have supported me along the way. My hope is to inspire others who want to work in the London Market and continue to give back to the next generation of insurers, which is why being recognized as a woman who has made an impact on our industry is so meaningful to me.

Bert Dizon: I was a RISE Award recipient back in 2017, and it truly helped propel my career. Fast forward, I am now the co-chair of the RISE Education Committee, a Senior Client Services Manager at GB, as well as being a member of GB’s DE&I Steering Committee and on the faculty of CLM Claims College. I’d encourage new industry professionals to seize the opportunity for free membership, thanks to great sponsors and supporters, and get engaged.


Looking Forward to 2024

RISE supports all disciplines of the industry: sales/broking, claims, underwriting, marketing, data and analytics, human resources, legal, client services, etc. From carriers, brokerage/agencies, MGAs/MGUs, law firms, ancillary service providers, and third-party administrators (TPAs), there are over 3,000 members and counting. With the opportunities and recognition RISE provides, the next generation of talent can find their futures in this industry.

What most impressed you at the event?

CS: Amy Cooper, Katerina Garavito, Tori Snoddy, the team of RISE volunteers, advisory board members, committee members, and, of course, the speakers, all did an amazing job in creating a special and unique experience. Everyone was well prepared and brought new and creative ways to keep all attendees engaged and ensure they were networking, interacting, and learning. We were all able to celebrate. Whether you were a 35 Under 35 honoree, a Mentor of the Year finalist/winner, a LEAD Diversity finalist/winner, or a family member/friend/co-worker, all folks beamed with pride, joy, and excitement. I’m already looking forward to June 19–20, 2024!

Amy Cooper (AC): I was most impressed by the energy of every attendee. People truly were excited to engage and contribute to discussions. I was impressed by many of the speakers and their seamless blend of personal stories, expertise, and insights. The amazing sessions, coupled with the passionate engagement of the participants, created an environment that fostered collaboration, innovation, and personal growth. It was an extraordinary showcase of transformative leadership in action.


What are you most looking forward to for next year’s Leadership Summit & Awards Gala?

AC: We’re looking forward to continued growth and anticipate being closer to 500 attendees next year. I’m looking forward to more engaging speakers, innovative networking activities, and tapping into our growing network. It’s always a challenge to exceed expectations when you produce an impressive event, but for me, the challenge is accepted! 

RISE serves as a stepping stone and a key piece of a young professional’s story. Whether you’re a young professional looking for mentorship or network growth or an executive interested in identifying pre-career talent and connecting with current young professionals, the RISE team are manufacturing opportunities and, in turn, helping to strengthen the industry.

Amy Cooper

VP - Carrier Practice

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