Many of us can relate to starting our career on the ground floor and working our way up, but few can match the hustle of Philadelphia native Dena Mignogna. She did it twice – and in two entirely different fields. In 2018, she joined Argo Property as AVP of Underwriting.
Entry-level role unlocks an insurance career path
Mignogna began her career at a large insurance carrier that was owned by Berkshire Hathaway. In that first job, she was stationed in a tiny room – in the middle of the file room – filled with each department’s policy forms.
“You could not start lower on the corporate ladder than I did,” she says. “In that little room, I put policies together by hand, form by form, all day long. Through that process, I learned about all of our products and became most interested in property.”
When a job became available in the property department, she applied for it and got it: a Technical Assistant. This led to other promotions at the firm and provided an opportunity to meet legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet. The firm’s emphasis on continuing education allowed Mignogna to start working toward earning her business degree and, she says, to have more opportunity.
“I’m proud to be a first-generation college student,” she says. “My mom was a stay-at-home mother and my dad worked in a factory. Earning my degree was an important milestone for my family.”
Mignogna moved on to other carriers where she expanded her insurance expertise beyond property. Meanwhile, two close family members spent extended periods in the hospital, and she spent countless hours with them. Her experience on the patient side fueled what she describes as her inner science nerd, specifically an interest in biology and medicine.
Soon, she decided to begin her studies and earned her nursing degree from La Salle University – while maintaining her full-time position as a Senior Underwriter and team lead for a golf and country club package product. Today, she’s a Registered Nurse licensed in several states.
A trip of a lifetime on the spur of the moment
A few weeks before joining Argo Property, Mignogna spontaneously embarked on a dream trip, visiting Southern to Northern Thailand for three weeks. The highlight, she says, was visiting Elephant Sanctuary in Phuket where she volunteered for five days and helped provide hands-on care for abused elephants.
“The entire trip was amazing, but the experience with the elephants is something I’ll never forget,” Mignogna says. “It was everything I hoped and more.”
After spending most of her life in the Philadelphia area, she’s relocated to the warmth of the southeast, which also offers more space than she’s used to.
“I moved out of the typical Philly rowhouse and into a house with two acres of land,” she says. “Now I can open the windows and see something other than another house. And it gives my three rescue dogs plenty of room to run.”
Two words summarize path to success in insurance: work hard
Looking back, Mignogna says starting as an entry-level staffer shaped her career in ways she couldn’t have imagined, and she would recommend it to anyone exploring an insurance career path.
“Coming from the bottom up, I was able to see the entire underwriting process and appreciate all that goes into it,” she says. “It was hard work, for sure, but it has made me 10 times better as an underwriter.”
Visit argolimited.com/argo-property/ to learn more about Argo Property.