When I finished school, I had no interest in going to university. I decided to do an apprenticeship instead. It happened to be in a broking office, and that’s how I got into broking. That then turned into me doing my diploma and my QPIB.

By the time I turned 23, I’d been working in insurance for five years. I then went on to become an Authorised Representative (AR).

I thought Marsh taking a chance on me at the age of 23 was a pretty big risk. I was definitely the youngest contractor ever employed by them in Australia. They took a risk on me, but I promised them that I would be successful.

Working hard

I had done a good job at growing book in my previous role and success as an AR is about growth and creating a business. It took hard work. For five years, I put my head down and worked 70 to 80 hour weeks. I didn’t complain because I knew I was growing something. I didn’t care what I wrote. I was happy to underwrite fish n’ chip shops.

My theory was, if I’m spending my money with a business, then they can let me have a shot at quoting their insurance. That was my sales tool. My friends used to laugh at me. They’d say: “Aren’t you going to ask to quote their insurance? We’ve been at the restaurant for half an hour already.”

My smallest clients turn over $70,000 and my biggest one turns over $500 million, but I treat everyone the same. I give them the same risk management, I give them the exact same service, no matter how big or small they are. I think customer service was drummed into me from day one. I am big on customer service. And I have never lost a client.

I think that I earned my career through hard work, but I also owe it to the people who trusted me when they hired me. And I still learn from all those people now.

Aren’t you going to ask to quote their insurance? We’ve been at the restaurant for half an hour already.

I am all about proving myself. I promised Marsh that I would be successful and I really wanted to do that. I applied myself as much as I could.

The pay-off

I feel very blessed to have such a great career. At 23, to have my own business and to be successful – to be one of the top five ARs in Australia for Marsh – I feel I have been blessed. But I have always been determined. I love what I do. I’ve got a passion for it.

I look after an association called Group Training Australia (VIC). They have 50 members that I look after. I go to their awards nights and just seeing what apprenticeships do for people and being apart of supporting those types of clients. It gives me great inspiration.

Apart from helping these clients that I really care about, my career has allowed me to live a great lifestyle. My husband and I travel. We had a baby a year ago and I have been back at work, but my husband is taking five years off now. We are in the position to be able to do all this because of this job.

AR advice

You have got to get the relationships right. If you can pick up the phone and have a conversation with an underwriter and say: “This is the risk, this is the rate, this is what I’m after,” then, in my opinion, you can do anything in the industry.

Achievement isn’t just going to fall out of the sky and into your lap. It’s all about applying yourself and setting goals. Re-evaluate at the end of the year and if you haven’t succeeded, try harder the next year. Throw yourself in there, you’ve got nothing to loose. If you are given a big opportunity, just take a hold of it and apply yourself.

Jodi Sharman is the Managing Principal of JLS Insurance Consulting, an AR of Marsh Advantage.