Nov 08, 2023Career Story: Luzette Graves
Luzette Graves' journey through the healthcare and insurance industry is a testament to her passion for advocacy. Learn about her story.
We sat with the women of M&G’s Senior Leadership Team to discuss what they love about their work, what inspires them most, and how they manage healthy boundaries and priorities.
Read Part 2 of our interview series here!
Zheila felt a connection with M&G in the relationships and core values that drove the agency and was recruited as our Employee Benefits & Corporate Development Director. She’s dedicated to creating meaningful impacts and enhancing engagement among teams.
I love that I get to laugh a lot. The best part of my job is the people that I work with. I’m in a lot of meetings, that’s a big part of my job, so I work with a lot of people and make decisions, think about planning, see how things are going, run progress checks and the part I look forward to is just seeing people. I love collaborating with them and just working with such down-to-earth, smart, creative people. So, yeah. My favorite thing? It’s our people. We’ve got some good peeps.
We take inventory of our culture here and if you look at our engagement feedback recently, our people report more and more feeling supported and connected and have really great relationships with their managers. I think that attention to relationships is at the top. That and how we treat people like professional adults. We support and empower our people to do their best work. I mean, we really live out our values. They’re so strongly embedded in everything we do, and those characteristics are really good guiding lights for people.
Overall, my leadership style is results-oriented. I don’t want to just get tasks done but make sure it works and makes an impact. And here, we listen. We actually listen and not only that, but we do something about it. We do our diligence to ensure we’re making an impact.
For me, it’s about understanding your priorities and setting clear boundaries. Your needs are always going to shift depending on what’s going on in your life at that time, both within the workplace and outside of it. My family is my priority, so they come first, and my work is scheduled around them. Thankfully, I’ve chosen to work somewhere where that’s understood, respected, and supported. When you do what you love, you don’t feel like life is out of balance.
Martine joined us after learning of M&G’s reputation and legacy in our area. She’s a cornerstone of her department and dedicated to our mission. Her passion for her work is motivated by her desire to continue the meaningful service our agency has built its legacy on.
I was in the insurance industry on the Central Coast and was really intrigued by M&G’s reputation. Everybody talked about the agency like they were the gold standard and I found myself asking, who is this company and what are they all about? So, I started looking at job postings and waited for something to come up and was thinking I’d apply for any open position I might be qualified for. So M&G had posted this employee benefits position and I had never done anything in EB before went ahead and sent off my resume and they actually called me back about a commercial lines position that wasn’t yet posted. So, I went ahead and did the interview and was immediately drawn to the culture and people working here. I of course accepted the position and I’m so glad I did. The first five years at M&G were probably some of the most exciting in my whole career. It was just opportunity after opportunity. I learned so much and built such amazing relationships. Never before in my career had I felt so supported and invested in.
My biggest mentor starting at M&G was Barbara Sutton. She made me want to be good at everything I did. I’ve always had a strong sense of internal competition but like never before, she made me feel proud. Proud of myself, proud of the work we do, all of it. Before we had all of these core values up on the wall and our purpose and our mission and all of these things written out and so clearly defined, she embodied it. She would talk about how much she loves what she does and about the importance of what we do and how important it is to our community and to these businesses and I just loved that. She emphasized to me that it’s not just a job, that we’re protecting people’s livelihoods. Barbara has probably given me the best mentorship and greatest inspiration in my entire career. She showed me that this work really matters and inspire me to do it really well and to take it seriously.
When I think about what inspires me, it’s all about my kids. I have two young daughters, three and seven years old. Getting to see them grow and learn and persevere is inspiring to me. Kids have so many different opportunities and you get to watch them grow and learn and try to do things right. Things like learning how to ride a bike, watching my child fall down and get up and fall down and get up. They’re so resilient. They just shake it off and keep trying. It’s so exceptionally inspiring just to see that and my kids make me want to be better and do better and be a good example. I want to be someone they can look up to. I get a lot of my inspiration from them.
Celia celebrates over 35 years with our agency! For her, our culture is a way of life. Serving currently as our Employee Benefits Service Manager, she’s worked her way up in our agency with experience and influence in a variety of facets and projects within our company.
So, I started working with M&G in 1986. I started entry-level and through support and provided growth opportunities, was able to develop myself professionally. There was an opportunity that came up in the benefits department and I didn’t know anything about that side of the business, but I went for it and found I loved talking to clients and helping them. I loved being in that partnership with my producer. He taught me to care for the clients and use our knowledge and resources to support them. With my role now, I’m less “in the weeds” but get to be in a position to develop my people and empower them to problem solve and support our clients. We have such strong people in our service-leading roles. I love working with them and through them.
We definitely go above and beyond to create a fun and engaging work environment here. Really, our culture is one that work is not something that should be getting in the way of our lives. It’s not an obstacle, but it is a lifestyle. So, work isn’t this thing I have to disconnect from. It’s about healthy boundaries and discipline and all that is really supported here. It isn’t just about doing the job. We know each other… marriages, babies, illness, everything. Our culture here is a way of life. These people… They are my family.
Maybe this is so simple but, just staying connected. We need to be engaged and talk, like, really talking and on a regular basis. It’s so important because one day is different than the next and we have no idea what’s happening in their own little corner of the world. We all have our own touch points and spheres of influence. So, while I can’t talk to everyone every day, I have my team below me, and they have theirs below them. We create this network of engagement and support that way. I’m connected to my people, and they’re connected to theirs. I do check-ins with my leaders and ask how people are doing. How was their week? What made them smile? What is concerning them and how can I support them? It’s just a regular conversation with genuine compassion and sincerity.