To celebrate International Women’s Day, Gallagher is focusing on our female talent and their achievements. Today we introduce two women linked through their business relationship in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Adelaide Fuel Distributors (AFD) Administration Manager Sarah Mrotek (pictured, right) and insurance broker Kerry Lovegrove (below) both work in fuel transport. Sarah joined the family distribution business after initially training and working as a primary school teacher and Kerry grew up in a trucking family.
Their professional bond is based on shared interests and common ground in forging their own paths. At the same time, they are achieving diversity in their chosen sector and acting as role models for gender parity and Balance for Better.
How did you two meet?
Sarah: We originally started working together when Kerry was assisting with our portfolio in the early 2000s.
Kerry: I took over management of the account back in 2015 when the previous account manager left the business, but I had worked on the AFD account when I first joined the business in 2005.
How did she help you/were you able to help her?
Sarah: We have developed a strong professional relationship and mutual respect. Kerry has a thorough understanding of our business portfolio and our requirements, and keeps me up to date on any changes in the industry and how they may affect us.
Kerry: I have learned, and continue to learn, a lot from Sarah about fuel distribution. I was relatively new to this space and Sarah’s industry knowledge and experience is impeccable, and she is always willing to share and educate.
Sarah is also a mother of twins who keep her extremely busy while working full time and studying on the side. This reinforces to me personally that being a working mother while still reaching your personal development goals is achievable.
How did you get to where you are today?
Sarah: I have been working in the family business in my current role for 18 years, prior to that I also worked in company-run service stations while studying teaching at university. My parents used to run the business from the family home, so I was constantly around the day to day management of the company from a young age.
Still, it was a big shift to move from primary school teaching into the transport industry. Having a thorough grassroots knowledge of the business has allowed me to gain respect from my peers. I have recently gone back to university study to gain new skills and formalise ones learned on the job.
Kerry: I started in the insurance game as a receptionist and, with a lot of determination to succeed, quickly progressed from there. A successful career has been important to me from a young age. I have always strived to make something of myself, and achieved this through dedication, persistence and hard work.
When did you realise that was where you wanted to be?
Sarah: I had always wanted to be a teacher and went to study for a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education degree straight after school. After living abroad for a year I decided to join the family business as a temporary move. I have never looked back and I have never regretted that decision.
Kerry: Not long into my working life I had the opportunity to assist a broker who solely focused on heavy transport insurance. Transport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it is something that I have always been passionate about. Becoming a broker who specialises in transport was a natural path for me to take.
What were the challenges?
Sarah: When I first started in administration I had to learn all the processes of running a large transport business, which had its challenges as I didn’t have a formal administration background, but I was willing to learn and worked extremely hard to ensure I knew the business from the ground up.
Kerry: I would say that the greatest challenges would be being a young female in the transport space. At times I have been faced with the perception that I was ‘straight out of school’ and/or ‘wouldn’t know anything about a truck’, but this wasn’t the case and it was a matter of proving myself.
Where do you turn for support?
Sarah: Having my father (Managing Director of AFD) as a mentor to teach me about the fuel industry greatly assisted me and I value his guidance still today.
Kerry: The support and encouragement I received from my team leader and management throughout the vital years of my career progression were brilliant. They had faith in my ability and passion for the industry, both insurance and transport, and always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and face the challenges.
In what ways have been able to leverage your feminine strengths?
Sarah: Multitasking! Nearly nine years ago I became a mum to twins. This had its own challenges but with the workplace more attuned to working from home and having access to technology, the transition to becoming a working mum was easier than I expected. Working in a busy business, I am constantly meeting deadlines and ensuring the business is running effectively. These organisational skills have most certainly been honed by being a twins’ mum!
Kerry: Like many women, I naturally relate strongly to others, which is something that carries into my professional life in that I take the time to understand the challenges my clients are facing. Having grown up in a trucking family, I have seen first hand how difficult times can get. I feel it is extremely important to be empathic working in insurance and that my clients understand that I genuinely care for their business and its success.
What do you value about your business relationship?
Sarah: My relationship with Gallagher has been long standing due to the trust I have in their knowledge and capabilities. We rely on our insurance broker ensuring that we are covered in all aspects of our business and understanding our needs. Kerry has always been a great support in any claim process, and I respect her both personally and professionally.
Kerry: I value the longevity and loyalty between our organisations. We are transparent in dealings with one another, which contributes to building an honest and enduring business relationship.
At Gallagher we pride ourselves on the quality of our client-broker relationships. Click the link below to arrange a personal chat with one of our industry specialists.