"In my role leading our legal function at Assurant, I think of these pieces of advice every day as I help our team members grow their careers through new experiences."
Stacey Volmar has been with Assurant since 1997, when he began as a temp in the mailroom. Over his 26-year career, 23 of which were spent at the front lines of data analytics at Assurant, Stacey has worked to build a deep understanding of the communities we serve and how to give them the best experience possible.
Instead of a ladder, Stacey describes his career as a journey. One that’s been both challenging and fulfilling. And, looking back, he has five pieces of advice for his younger self or anyone else who’s just beginning their own journey.
Fuel Your Curiosity
“My first three months at Assurant were in the mailroom as part of my highschool’s work co-op program. When I applied, it was a temp position. It was kind of like an intern, but they placed you wherever a department needed help. And so, my classmates who were also in the program, they might have been in an area like compliance, or account management, or something like that. And they only saw or worked in that one area. But, in the mailroom in Miami, there were 12 floors, and every day I got to go through each of these floors four times.
“And so, I would see these signs up above each department and just learn the different areas — financial claims, finance, call center, IT, business teams, so on and so forth. These were experiences that my counterparts in that program weren’t getting. I didn’t have tunnel vision into just one area. And I wanted to stay at Assurant because I saw those opportunities.
“Don’t box yourself into one area. Seek knowledge from the areas that you’re not exposed to. This organization has something like 12-, 13 thousand plus people, and you may, on a regular basis, deal with 20 or 30 of those people. You should seek and take advantage of the opportunity to understand what other folks are doing. At some point, you’ll be able to fall back on that, and it’s a good way to expand your network.”
Build Your Network
“Building your network is something that I didn't understand the value of until later. So I always try to let those that are starting out in their careers know that they need to grow it now. Grow it early on and you will reap the benefits of that labor later. The more networking you do now (particularly networking up), later on, if you show consistency and value, those people that you’ve started networking with will become your sponsors and they will open opportunities for you.
“You never know who that connection’s going to be. Let’s say that today I’m 20, 25 years old and I’m speaking to someone who’s currently a manager. In five years, they might be a director. In 10 years, they’re VP. And now you’re a manager or a director. The benefit may come 15, 20 years later.
“And, yes, I’ve been successful at Assurant because of my consistency and work product, but also because of the relationships that I’ve built and the trust that I’ve gained from folks. When you do that, people will open opportunities for you and your teams.”
Seek Progress, Not Perfection
“There's a feeling sometimes that I see where people don't want to share their work until they're done. And I tell them, ‘Well, if you share your work when you're done, you're not open to feedback.’
“Now, if you come to me and you say, ‘Hey, here's something that I'm working on. What do you think?’ Well, you're not done yet, and so you're still open to feedback. So, share your progress, not perfection, right?
“If you’re truly seeking advisement, you shouldn’t wait until the end where you feel like, ‘Okay, I’ve got my deck together. I’ve done my study.’ You know, at that point, it’s kind of too late.”
Make It Snackable
“When I got into analytics and started to grow in that space, I started to understand that my value for the team and for the organization was that I was able to take complex insights or insights that were derived through complex techniques, simplify them, and say, ‘This is what the data is really telling you.’
“That led to more data storytelling that also helped me understand that I kind of have this ability to teach. I believe that it was my ability to teach and understand how people think and digest information that led me into the management track. And, as we kept growing, I realized that there were people out there who were smarter than me in this space of actually doing the work that I was so passionate about. So I had to understand that I had greater value on the management track than on the technical side.”
Assess, Reflect, and Adapt
“About every five or so years, what matters to me changes. Early on in my career, what mattered to me was making sure that I was providing my manager and this organization with quality work and insights. And then, as I transitioned to being a people manager, that still mattered, but it moved more towards team development within the space. It was more, ‘How do I help others grow so that they are able to be the best version of themselves, too.’
“I wasn’t the doer anymore.
“In fact, I get pretty envious of them, because I still like to do the work. That's never left me. And I get excited when I’m invited to some of the working sessions, but I’m listening for other things now. My value is in improving their working conditions, seeking opportunities for their skillsets to improve our business, and preparing for the future. And, as fun as it is to attend those working sessions, I realized that committing too much of my time there could keep me from serving our team.”
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