Chelsea Wallis: What has the award process, from nomination through to winning, taught you?

Adele May: I’ve discovered that I’m a lot more capable than I’ve given myself credit for, and that is really satisfying.

The past six months have been very exciting with all that’s come with being a finalist for the award. Winning the award itself was one of the proudest moments in my career to date. The opportunities it will present are going to be priceless.

We’ve also scaled back our team at Willis from four to two, and over the past six months I’ve been really pushed to think outside the box. For instance, while my account director was away on holiday I received a new appointment to insure in Papua New Guinea, which I had never done before.

CW: Do you have any specific career goals going forward?

AM: Being named the winner has entirely changed my career goals! Since winning the award, I’ve decided that in the next 12 months I just need to say yes to everything that comes my way. I think after that I’ll have to sit down and revisit my career path because the connections I’ll make over the next year will really influence that.

CW: Why did you apply for the award?

AM: In 2012, I was sitting down with a work colleague, Alexandra Ferguson at Willis, who was up for the award. I thought it was a fantastic process, but I put it out of my mind and didn’t think about it again.

If you’re not happy doing what you do, your work suffers and your clients don’t get the service they need.

This year a friend, Hayden Ofsoski of CGU, saw that I was having an intense year and he wanted me to be recognised for how I had been managing everything, so he nominated me. I received an email in January saying “Congratulations. You’ve been nominated. Would you like to formally apply?” and the rest was history.

CW: What was beneficial about the award process?

AM: The interview with the judges was particularly useful. Once I made it through to the second round in Queensland, I had to sit down for 45 minutes with four people, almost like a job interview. But in the past six months alone my interview skills and public speaking has been put to the test, so I’ve really enjoyed that process.

CW: What is the best career advice you’ve received?

AM: When I was 17 and I first entered the insurance world, my broker mentor said to take pride in your work. If you’re not happy doing what you do, your work suffers and your clients don’t get the service they need. As a result, your relationship with them will falter.

CW: What is the most important quality for a broker?

AM: I speak to my clients so regularly and do training sessions with them as well. They kept saying that being honest and clear with them at all times is what gives them confidence on day one that they have cover.

My clients don’t necessarily know what job is going to come in for them. But because I’ve been clear and honest with them in the past, they aren’t worried about what might come up.

If there are any concerns, I’ll advise them immediately. Being honest with clients can eliminate unnecessary risks for exposures.

CW: What is professionalism in broking to you and how do you strive to make it part of your work practices?

AM: Professionalism in broking is not just about following rules or the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice. Not everything is black and white; it is about understanding the values behind the Code. At Willis, we are guided by five values – integrity, advocacy, teamwork, respect and development. These are values I will carry with me throughout my insurance career.

As her prize, May has won an all-expenses paid business development trip to London, valued at around $10,000.