Carrie Dobson, sales leader, protection team at Howden Life and Health (previously Assured Futures), speaks to Health & Protection about leaving bar work for the world of protection, taking inspiration from her ‘superhuman’ mum, her love of chess and being star struck at the prospect of helping a star of Gogglebox arrange income protection cover.
How did you get your start in the sector?
After completing a degree in psychology at the University of Derby in 2016 I had no idea what direction I wanted to take my career in. I decided to start working behind the bar at Vodka Revolution in Cheltenham to give myself time to figure out what I really wanted to do.
After a couple of months of making espresso martinis for the masses, I was promoted to the role of sales co-ordinator, and then to sales and events manager and it was during this time that I realised I really enjoyed working in sales.
However, the pandemic took its toll on the hospitality industry, and after a few years in the role, my position became redundant. Although this was obviously not ideal, it was in that role that I had discovered my passion for sales, and I was eager to use the skills I had developed to embark on a new challenge in a different industry and I started working for Assured Futures as a sales introducer in 2021.
Within five months in the role, I had been promoted to protection advisor and have recently been appointed team captain of the protection team, where I have the opportunity to facilitate the development of a small team of advisors.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
The people. I really enjoy having the opportunity connect with so many different people every day.
I have a genuine interest in a client’s motivations and needs – that has always been at the forefront of my role – and I get a great sense of satisfaction knowing that my skill set can help someone protect themselves or their family in the right way.
Who is your role model – in life or in work?
It has got to be my mum. She raised me and my sister single-handedly while working full time as an A&E nurse, and that is nothing short of superhuman.
Who has been your most important mentor in your career so far and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of brilliant people all of whom I would consider to be excellent mentors. But if I had to single anyone out, I would say that the person who has had the most fundamental impact on my progression is my team manager, Martin [Hedicker]. His experience and ability to advocate what our team needs to meet our goals has always been something I’ve looked up to. Collaborating with him always leaves me feeling motivated.
What advice would you give to people thinking about a career in the sector?
Resilience is key. In this role, you are speaking with a plethora of different personalities each day; and while most of the time it is a really positive experience, there are always going to be knock backs. Having the ability to maintain a positive and tenacious mindset is crucial.
What has been your biggest setback and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say I have had any setbacks, per se, but one of the biggest challenges for me was starting my career at Assured Futures during lockdown. Joining a new team in an industry I wasn’t familiar with and in the isolation of my spare room was strange.
I had to get out of my comfort zone and really push myself to reach out to colleagues and mentors when I felt I needed that extra support and I am really thankful to everyone at Assured Futures who supported during those early weeks and months.
Everyone made a real effort to make me feel part of the team, and I will always be really grateful for that.
Laugh or cry – what did your most memorable client or case make you want to do and why?
I once found myself star-struck by a client looking for income protection because I realised it was one of my favourites from Gogglebox. I kept it professional on the call, but when I tuned into to watch the next episode with my family the following week, it did make me want to shout out ‘I helped that person with their income protection.’
What’s your ultimate goal for your career?
I don’t have a specific career goal but I thoroughly enjoy what I am doing at Assured Futures and want to continue to learn and develop as an advisor and coach. I like to think if you put 100% into what you’re doing the rest will follow, and I’m excited to see where that ethos takes me in my career.
How would your boss describe you?
It might depend on which day you ask him, but historically he’s described me as someone trustworthy with good instincts and a curious mind.
What is your biggest talent away from work?
This is going to make me sound incredibly nerdy, but it is very rare that I’m beaten in a game of chess.
What mantra do you live by?
Be the reflection of what you would like to receive. If you want respect, give respect. If you want kindness, give kindness. If you want truth, give truth.
What song would you regard as your theme tune?
Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. You can’t be in a bad mood when that song is playing.