Let’s be honest, when we hear the word ‘business’, we are probably not thinking about an insurance company. Instead, we instinctively consider technology companies, consumer-oriented businesses, stock market firms, or institutions directly relevant to high schoolers. On the contrary, insurance companies play a larger role among our youth than most people think. Insurance companies and those involved with them are responsible for the functionality of other businesses and every-day consumers by insuring them financially when things don’t go well. Mr. Greg Gerontes, who owns his own insurance company (Hecht-Stout Insurance Agency) in Illinois, shares his insight on how he got involved in the insurance industry and his thoughts on the role of insurance.
What path did you take to become the owner of an insurance company?
Greg: I was a Psychology & Political Science major in college and went to work as a Personnel Manager for a privately-owned chain of fine-clothing retail stores. I knew the day I started that career path that it was not for me. Long story short, I read a great book by Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged” and decided I was meant to go into business for myself. So you could say that I knew what I didn’t want to do and followed my gut.
What does your profession entail?
Greg: My profession deals with fundamentally solving other people’s problems when something terrible happens. I often think of myself as a Disaster Banker since I help provide money to people when nobody else will. Insurance agents help keep a local economy rolling when there is a disaster, help put people back in their homes when there is a fire. We are definitely an important component of our local communities.
What skills are needed to be in the insurance industry today?
Greg: Patience, persistence, honesty, the ability to break down complex insurance language into terms everyone can understand. Being analytical and good with a calculator helps, too.
What do you like the most about your profession?
Greg: Being a part of my community, knowing that the harder I work the better living I can provide for my family, and all the great people I meet and work with. It is definitely an adventure with something different going on every day.
Any advice for students pursing a career in business or finance?
Greg: There are so many paths in the insurance industry! My best advice is to do your research, talk to people in the industry such as an actuary, an independent agent, or a claims adjuster. Find a career that fits your personality. I know I am a better insurance agent than I could ever be as an actuary. But an actuary would probably never be able to do what I do!
Mr. Gerontes keenly shows us the influence the insurance industry has on our communities and business processes. By doing so, he might just change the way we see insurance and may even inspire us to pursue a career in the field!