Moving outside her comfort zone has paid off more than once for Amanda Weiss.
Saying yes to a summer internship with a surety company opened the door to a career well suited to her talents and interests.
“I went with the manager of that office to customer meetings and brokers meetings,” she says. “He had me looking at financial statements. I loved it.”
Another fortuitous gamble was geographic: Weiss left her home state of Ohio for a job opportunity in Texas. That move eventually led her to Argo Surety in Houston, where she now is vice president, national underwriting officer. Weiss revels in the caliber of her team.
“Argo Surety is successful because we have established these amazing connections with our clients, brokers and agents, and they want to come back and do business with people they like, admire, respect and value,” she says.
Learning every day
Surety isn’t a broadly understood field, Weiss says.
“Nobody plans to enter the surety field because nobody knows what it is,” she says. And it’s never dull.
“A career in surety is unique because you have no idea what you are going to be working on from day to day, from health companies to gas companies to coal mining companies,” she says. “I have gone on so many manufacturing site tours and mine tours. I am not an engineer, but I have learned a lot about different facets of companies that I never would have outside of surety.”
Striking a balance
In her role, Weiss finds her biggest challenge to be navigating the delicate line between maintaining strong client relationships and having to, at times, deliver a tough message.
“We can’t say ‘yes’ all the time to every submission,” she says.
So she works hard to help mentor underwriters and encourage them to consider the bigger picture when evaluating submissions. The key is to deliver tough messages in a way that preserves opportunities to write future business with clients.
Advising early-career pros to focus on people skills
Weiss encourages those just starting out on their surety underwriter career path to be aware that surety is a small world and that how they portray themselves and treat others affects important client and colleague relationships. Technical skills can be taught, but interpersonal savvy is essential from day one, she says.
“You are going to be working for and around those people for the rest of your career,” she says.
Weiss still follows advice she received earlier in her career that has helped her grow professionally.
“Someone told me earlier on to take a step back and look at the big picture and the overall story of an account instead of getting caught up in the minutia that can weigh you down,” she says.
Enjoying her children and fitness
Weiss took piano and voice lessons from the age of 3 through 18, and she still plays piano and sings for personal enjoyment. But severe stage fright prevents her from performing.
“I get too nervous,” she says.
She admires her two daughters’ courage and fearlessness.
“Every day, I try to emulate their optimism and positivity about everything they do,” she says.
Outside of work, Weiss stays involved in her daughters’ activities and exercises six days a week, running or taking spin or other classes.
“Really, anything that gets me out the door.”
Learn more about Argo Surety.