Women in the Workplace | Melissa Bajwa

March 15, 2024


Featuring Melissa Bajwa—Vice President, Compliance and Broker Network Operations, PROLINK Insurance

Tell us about your career so far. 

After graduating from university, I started as an Insurance Advisor at TD Meloche Monnex with zero experience. I was unsure if a career in insurance was for me, but within a year of being a front-line advisor, I knew I found where I belong.  

I was able to use my strengths in sales and service to not only be successful in my role but help others be successful in theirs. I was also fortunate to be surrounded by successful female leaders who made female leadership in this industry look like the norm, and something that was achievable. Their guidance and support led me to my first leadership position two years after starting in the industry.  

In 2016, I made the decision to join the broker channel as the Personal Insurance Manager at PROLINK. Since making this move, I’ve held various leadership positions including being promoted to Designated Individual in 2020. I’m currently responsible for operations and compliance oversight at PROLINK Broker Network.    

What excites you most about your work? 

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to help and mentor others—from educating a client on coverage gaps to teaching insurance courses to helping small business owners navigate the world of brokerage ownership. I’ve been able to use my experience to provide advice and guidance that has helped others navigate this industry.  

What would you tell your younger self that you didn’t know at the time?  

I’d remind myself to stop caring so much about what others think. We all want to be liked and accepted, but you can’t please everyone. It’s important to stop worrying about things outside our control and surround ourselves with people who raise you up as much as you raise others.   

What advice do you have for people looking to step into leadership roles? 

I like to pose a question back—why leadership? As you investigate leadership positions, I’d recommend you first find your purpose and why it’s important to you. I’ve seen too many cases where people think leadership is just a natural progression of their career, which isn’t a good reason and could lead to potential failure down the road. I also get asked how to gain experience early on in your career. People fail to realize that leadership experience doesn’t have to come from leadership roles but from our leadership experiences in current roles and within the community. This experience can help you understand your why, which will also help you determine the type of leader you want to be.     

What’s something that’s surprised you about the industry?  

Even though there’s been an increased focus on DEI, we still have work to do to improve diversity at the executive level. In a recent article in Insurance Thought Leadership, Deb Smallwood speaks about the glass ceiling being broken though the representation of women in c-suite positions continues to be small. According to the article, “Over 60% of the professionals in insurance are women. But only 18% of c-suite roles in the industry are filled by women, and only 3% by women of color.” Investing in meaningful mentorship programs can help bridge gaps and gain insight into barriers that exist. I also suggest companies and employees become members of our industry’s diversity organizations, as they have the potential to create stronger allyships in our industry.   

How do we encourage and support more women to move into leadership roles?  

Current leaders need to be able to identify female leaders early on in their careers and create meaningful mentorship programs to support their development. When it comes to mentoring, the biggest misconception is that women need to mentor women, where companies need to focus on creating allies within the organization to help raise everyone up, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Companies also need to create flexible work arrangements that foster an environment of understanding and inclusion.    

Why should people consider the broker channel as their chosen career path?  

If you enjoy looking for creative solutions and helping others, joining the broker channel might be something to consider. Being a broker and working in a brokerage has evolved over the last few years as we continue to look for innovative ways to service clients. It requires talent with various skillsets to properly provide risk management advice to clients. A career in the broker channel doesn’t mean you need to be a broker—you could have a skillset like HR, IT or Project Management. Though working as a broker has its advantages that can lead to ownership opportunities of your book of business or running your own brokerage.   

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.