Some lucky people find a great career fit from day one. Lauren Welch is one of them.
Welch began her insurance career as a part-time temp in the accounting department of Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in Peoria, Illinois. Fifteen years later, she oversees all U.S. controllership activities for Argo Group as associate vice president, head of U.S. segment accounting.
“I worked my butt off,” she says of her early days, when she immersed herself in the world of insurance.
“I never knew how crazy insurance could be when you start learning everything from the ground up. In finance you are exposed to the claims side, the underwriting side, the actuarial side, the risk management side,” she says. “There is just so much, and I still find myself learning something new every day.”
Three years into her career, Argo paid for Welch to earn her MBA while she worked full-time. She never forgot that support.
“I have been able to use that education and experience,” she says. “I kind of grew up here in this company. Insurance is where I started and where I stayed.”
With the exception of a year-long stint with another firm, Welch has worked for Argo for her entire career, drawn by the people and the company’s culture.
Work-life balance is important for everyone
Welch has noticed an increasing culture of support for work-life balance, such as remote work arrangements that make it easier for people to handle their personal and work responsibilities.
“Women should feel like they can have a family and be successful on a personal level and also be able to be successful on a professional level,” she says. “One of the traits of a successful woman is attitude and how you approach things. I think you can have both. I think flexibility is something that should be offered to everyone.”
And she’s observed that hard work pays off, with teamwork and mentorship being key factors in that success.
“I don’t feel like there’s anything I can’t do because I’m a woman,” she says. “You need a great team around you, and I have one of the best I get to work with every day. You need people who mentor you and push you along the way. That could be a man or woman.”
Inspired to lead and make a difference in others’ lives
A self-described “nerdy accountant at heart,” who loves learning and building relationships, Welch has achieved a major career goal.
“Coming out of college, I wanted to be a controller and I wanted to be leading a team of accountants,” she says. “I’m there.”
As she considers her future, Welch is intrigued by the idea of one day starting her own business to feed both her entrepreneurial spirit and her desire to make a difference in the lives of other people.
“I think you should approach life with a light heart, even when it gets tough,” she says. “I am always open-minded to a new challenge.”
Welch finds wisdom and valuable insights into the power of courage and vulnerability in the books of research professor and best-selling author Brené Brown. Her two favorite titles? Daring Greatly and Braving the Wilderness.
“I love her candor and the way she just puts it out there,” she says. “Knowing yourself really changes the way you lead a team.”
A certified therapeutic yoga instructor, Welch finds that her practice of yoga as therapy has also enhanced her leadership abilities.
“It’s not just physical,” she says. “It’s amazing to see all the mental benefits yoga can have on your life. I hope I can bring those aspects I have learned to the workplace as well.”
Learn more about Women in Insurance at Argo.