Mar 16, 2022
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Sitting Down with the Women of M&G’s Senior Leadership Team, Part 1

group photo of women in leadership at morris garitano

Sitting Down with the Women of M&G’s Senior Leadership Team, Part 1

We sat with the women in our 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 1 of our interview series here! 

 

Kerry Morris, Chief Operating Officer

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Kerry is a third-generation owner and M&G’s current Chief Operating Officer. She’s a central part of the agency’s senior leadership team and highly regarded among her colleagues. Kerry’s start at M&G was met with support and mentorship which she now pours back into her team.

 

1.    What do you love about working at Morris & Garritano?

At the very beginning, I had a really strong mentor who believed in me before I was capable. They spent a lot of time with me, let me ask questions, and just trusted me to perform well. That’s our culture here. I feel incredibly honored to be in the position I am in today. We have such a strong team. I’m proud of all the men and women on my team, but I’m super proud that we have a predominantly female senior leadership team. You don’t see that a lot in our industry.

My favorite part of the job honestly is working with my team. They are smart, they’re capable, they’re fun. Another thing I feel grateful for is being in a position to influence some of our policies and our practices. We’ve grown and adapted so much as an agency, especially in the past two years, and I’m really proud to have been a part of that driving force.

 

2.    How would you describe your leadership style?

I like finding talented, really strong, capable people, and just letting them do their jobs, and learning from them. I’m inquisitive. I want to learn from the people on my team. I’m super proud that we have a really strong training and development infrastructure to develop our people and give them opportunities to grow here. We give that opportunity to anybody that really wants to work hard and advance. It’s not necessarily about where you came from or what your background is, it’s really about what you do. I allow people to play to their strengths and empower them to do what they do best.

 

3.    How can women support other women within their organizations and workplaces?

By being kind! We need to support one another and build collaborative relationships. I think that it all starts with kind of building a relationship with your teammates because then you really get to know them on a personal level and a business level. And when you know people on a personal level, you know how to best support them.

 

Angela Toomey, Human Resources Director

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Angela is M&G’s Human Resources Director and a backbone of support for our people. She leads with the agency’s “people first” mentality and is committed to furthering the company’s mission of building meaningful relationships.

 

1.    What initially drew you to your role at M&G?

I was new to the area and got recruited by someone at Morris & Garritano. It’s remarkable from there how instrumental M&G was in helping me secure roots here. I got connected right away with our clients and they helped me find housing and a place to live. The agency’s impacts in the community are huge but what really drew me to the company was when I interviewed with them. When you work in HR, it’s no fun to work at a company that doesn’t absolutely love their employees. But M&G does so much to show they really appreciate and truly love their people. I was like, “That tops it for me. I want this job.”

 

2.    What inspires you in your work?

I get inspired when I get to participate in something that matches my own personal values. M&G put so much emphasis on building relationships with each other, with our clients, and with our community. They are constantly working to find new and improved ways to connect. I love that because building relationships is also part of my personal values. I think that’s really important.

We have an amazing legacy of meaningful relationships here with the things that we’ve done as a company and the traditions that we’ve carried on. I remember one time during a phone screening with someone, I asked them if they’d ever heard of our agency before and they said, “You know, I’m not actually too familiar with who you are, but you guys have been on my soccer jerseys since I was like, three years old!” And so that to me is just really inspiring because I know that we made that community impact at that granular level everywhere. It’s not just singular community service, our legacy is growing up with people here. Our name, our generosity, is recognized generationally.

So, that’s what really inspires me. It’s being a part of this legacy and having these opportunities to connect with people here at M&G.

 

3.    What was the best professional advice you received?

I had a great mentor who taught me the human side of human resources. She was a learning and development leader and eventually went on to be a people leader. And I think that is where I cut my teeth on what HR is and what it means, and it doesn’t matter how you slice it. And I keep coming back to it. You absolutely have to love your employees. Every single one of them. Especially during challenging times where we’ve seen some divide. There’s a lot of things in today’s world that could divide a workplace but it’s our job to bring every single person along. We do that with making connections and building relationships. Finding that value-match between personal values and the company values is the most important thing.

 

Sheri Bruner, Commercial Lines Service Manager

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In Sheri’s nearly 20 years with M&G, she’s found support and opportunity to develop herself professionally as she rose in the ranks of our team. It’s all about the people for Sheri and she’s passionate about developing our leaders and cultivating an environment of support.

 

1.    How has M&G supported your growth into your current role?

So, I started as an assistant account manager 19 years ago. After about a year, I was ready for some new responsibilities and was able to voice that. I grew so much from that first role because it allowed me to work with all of the account managers in the agency and I got to pull strengths from all of these different people who had so much experience. I found myself just being offered opportunity after opportunity. I was then promoted to an account manager and was able to really showcase my quality and strengths and was able to grow within the unit and begin leadership training. This allowed for promotion into a team lead role with various, specific insurance designation courses allowing for further professional development. I was really invested in and able to grow my coverage knowledge, my customer service knowledge, and overall experience with agency operations.

 

2.    What is your favorite thing about being a part of M&G?

I’ve always loved working with people. That’s always been my favorite part about any job I’ve had. I’ve been in customer service since I started working, supporting the needs of clients and customers, and now that has turned inward to caring for our people internally. This all comes back to our core values and loving what you do. I need that in my life in order to feel good about my work and be engaged. I love working with people and helping them to grow. Early on, I would come home from work and, around the dinner table, just talk about work! About how much I loved where I worked and the people I worked with, and out of that, I have two kids working here with me at the agency!

 

3.    How do you as a leader contribute to M&G’s culture of supporting our people?

Our leadership team always puts people first. When we’re making decisions, we’re always talking about how is this going to affect our staff. I think that’s pretty obvious in most ways. But I also know that most of our leaders aren’t afraid to get goofy and do silly things for fun! You know, like wear weird costume get in front of everybody and sing karaoke. And when our leaders are having fun, it allows for the rest of us to feel safe having fun as well. Monkey see, monkey do! It’s creating that culture and living in it, making it natural and allowing for people to feel safe and supported here. That’s a big part of our engagement.

 

Jordan Sullivan, Project Management Director

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With over a decade of service, Jordan is M&G’s Project Management Director making impacts in every department of the agency. Having begun as an administrative intern, Jordan’s talents and dedication have earned her this integral position as an integral part of our operations.

 

1.    What do you like the most about working for M&G?

I really admire the leadership. I know that they’re doing the right thing for the right reasons. They truly care about their people and our clients. Decisions are always people first. I was an executive admin for a really long time sitting in those meetings where we’re having to make hard decisions and have tough conversations and every single time, the conversation was asking what’s best for our people. So, I wouldn’t just hear it from them, I was seeing it in action. They just do the right thing. And so that’s very important to me to work for a company that has that level of integrity. That’s rare to find. It’s something here that’s really special.

 

2.    What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of my career progression here. Having started as an intern 11 years ago, I’m in a pretty niche role now and have been a part of a wide variety of agency projects. I worked on everything from technology to client service projects to infrastructure projects and restructures. I’ve gotten to work with every single department! I’m proud of the impact that I’ve been able to have in so many different areas and the relationships that I have been able to build. Having a little bit of knowledge everywhere and being able to make impacts throughout the company is really exciting for me.

 

3.    How do you maintain a healthy management of your personal and professional responsibilities?

Before I had my daughter, I was working much longer hours. I would work late nights but I didn’t mind it, I love what I do. But what’s really cool is when I had my daughter, my mindset obviously shifted. I wanted to be off earlier to spend a couple of hours with her before she goes to bed, and I don’t feel like that’s ever been questioned. It’d just been completely understood, and I’ve felt my priorities and my family be respected by the company. The flexibility has been amazing and especially since the pandemic, I’d never thought I’d have the possibility to work remotely. So, being able to move closer to family and manage that time with a toddler has just been such a relief in a lot of ways. I want to make the world a better place for my daughter and being a part of that change is exciting to me! I trust M&G and know they have my best interest at heart.

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