Kyle Davis started as an accounting major but quickly realized that he preferred finance.
“It ended up being a good fit in terms of how my mind works,” he says.
His entry intro surety was another story and more of a leap of faith than a well-considered match.
“I drove to Birmingham [Alabama] and showed up to the interview not knowing anything about surety,” he says. “I grew up playing baseball and played in high school, and talking about baseball was largely what my interview consisted of.”
Davis landed that job and stayed for a decade. After leaving Alabama for a job in Texas, he joined Argo Surety in 2018 as vice president of underwriting. He assumed his current role as vice president of field management in August 2019.
Why a career in surety?
“There are very few in the industry who even knew what surety was prior to getting into it,” he says.
That lack of awareness is beginning to fade, however, as a second generation of surety underwriters is coming into the profession, he says.
With his entire career in commercial surety, Davis finds the industry never gets dull.
“If you ever get to the point you think you know everything you need to know about surety, you should quit,” he says. “It’s an ever-evolving landscape, and it’s never mundane.”
Mentorship: a rewarding challenge
Davis values mentoring others but also finds it challenging.
“I can be a little bit of a commander at times,” he says. “Sometimes I find the challenge is holding back and giving people time to communicate what they are trying to explain and letting them discover it on their own.”
He finds letting others take the lead in overcoming obstacles or considering a new perspective is worth it.
“When I can see people tackle those head-on and come out the other side successfully, I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing that,” he says.
The importance of giving and receiving feedback
Feedback is an important tool that Davis urges others to use to their full advantage. It’s important not only to receive feedback with a positive frame of mind but also to seek it out from bosses, mentors and others, says Davis, who believes the practice builds self-awareness.
“People can mess up a good message depending on the words they choose,” he says.
Early in his career, Davis concedes, he didn’t always phrase his thoughts effectively. He appreciated being told that his words were not coming across how he likely intended them.
“It gave me perspective on how I was being perceived, because I didn’t know,” he says.
He encourages people to seek out 360-degree feedback evaluations and apply the feedback received.
Share the gift of music
The middle of three siblings, Davis grew up in a small town in northwest Alabama, where he met his future wife at church.
“My graduating class had 98 in it,” he says. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Davis grew up singing in choir, playing piano and performing musical theater.
“I think people are sometimes surprised to see I have a creative side,” he says. “I went to college at the University of Alabama on a performing arts scholarship.”
Davis and his wife encourage their two elementary-school-age sons to explore their musical interests. He prioritizes family time on weekends and during family vacations and finds inspiration in his boys.
“I love the fact they approach things with an open mind,” he says. “They approach things seeking to learn and to dig in and understand.”
Learn more about Argo Surety.