The Real Life of Senior Commercial Underwriter – Shayne AlbinePosted by Melissa Miller
Quintessential girl boss, Shayne Albine, paints a picture of her day in the life – and she doesn’t Photoshop any of it. #NoFilterNecessary
“I think about the earlier years when I was so overly concerned about looking and acting professional. Yes, I still want to be taken seriously. But I realized that just being me [human] is what brings me the most success.” The good. The bad. The ugly. The .. awkward? Here is an exclusive invitation into Shayne’s world –
- Senior Commercial Underwriter for Old Republic Surety, with more than 20 years of experience.
- Independent Insurance Agents are her customers.
- The agents work with clients who need to be bonded.
The specific territories Shayne represents are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and the west coast of Florida. Her daily goal is to interact with agents that write commercial surety bonds and help them succeed – perhaps making their job easier. A typical agency visit lasts about 15-45 minutes. Shayne explains that she is intuitively inclined in knowing whom she will work well with. She loves building relationships and appreciates that no two are the same. “Diversity in relationships is important. I find it interesting and enjoyable to work with many different personalities.”
“It’s amazing to meet so many people and form business relationships; sometimes I’m lucky enough to make long lasting friendships.” She dubbed a specific lead agent based in Ohio as one she instantly hit it off with.
“Our meeting ended up being three hours! I knew right away we would be doing business together and that we could have a mutually beneficial relationship for success!”
Meeting new people and exploring new territories are two aspects of her career that Shayne loves the most.
Shayne is on the go 60-70% of the time because as the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” An underwriter must be present to win. “Letting the agents know that you are there for them and that you have their success as a top priority – that’s what counts.”
While traveling is one of her favorite parts of the job – it can, at times, be her least favorite as well.
She admits that traveling solo can get complicated with that whole “don’t talk to strangers” rule embedded in our brains. Because she is frequently solo on the road, she’s learned to become much more observant of her surroundings.
Another challenge that comes with travel? Logistics – the things that can get in the way, on the way. The early morning flights, the traffic getting to the airport, the shuttles, the security lines, and the hope for no flight delays. Perhaps it should be called long-istics.
“I’m always, always fine when I get on the plane. It’s the getting to that part that can be tedious for me, making sure I get through security and didn’t forget anything” she confesses. “Once I get to my destination, I am excited and exhilarated to see my agents. They make it all worth it.”
Why she does what she does -
This jack – or perhaps I should say “Jill” – of all trades wears so many hats she could rule a runway. She runs her own show – like a boss. Sure, there are boxes to check off – but Shayne is the master of her territory.
She meets and greets with agents, does major financial analysis to determine who she’ll do business with, evaluates net worth, profits, and losses, and watches trends to see where potential clients are allocating their money. With underwriting court bonds, she needs to know legal jargon and statutes to drill down and investigate.
She must also be quick on her feet –
“All bonds do not fit in one box. When I have to figure out what else can be done to justify a specific bond that doesn’t necessarily fit in the box, I have to quarterback and adjust accordingly. Make a split decision where and who to throw the ball to.”
Independent and intelligent, this bond diva definitely doesn’t exist for a man named James but rather for her own striking successes. However, nobody was born where they are standing – so what initially catapulted Shayne into becoming the bona fide bond girl she is? Her mom.
“I never thought I’d be an Underwriter! It’s what my mom did – and I remember being a little girl asking my mom what exactly she did at her job. After she was finished telling me, I was like - ‘Ick!’”
Unexpectedly but not regrettably, her footprints met her mother’s along her career path.
Side note: Shayne excitedly mentions, while laughing, how she adores channeling her inner childhood when she gets to bust out the white out for work purposes. Believe it or not, some bonds still require old school typewriters to issue.
“It’s a serious job writing bonds. I know if they’re not done exactly and correctly, a client could lose his or her license. Sometimes I end up printing bonds out and cutting and pasting information together. Who would’ve known bonds could be full of arts and crafts?!”
She goes above and beyond to make sure everybody is okay.
We’ve heard good and bad – anything ugly? Tricky conversations.
Unlike it is for a Fairy Godmother, a wish isn’t always a command in an underwriter’s world.
Red-flag clients, otherwise known as clients who don’t want to provide their financial information for credit checks, can make for uncomfortable scenarios. Throughout her learning experiences, she’s had agents try to convince her otherwise – but being the pro she is, Shayne knows to not approve of specific bonds and to not make obligations with clients who cannot handle their business properly.
Shayne briefly shares a couple more stories where expectations were simply not attainable. The first story is about two people who were going into business together. They wanted a bond to guarantee their company would be successful. The next story is about a client living in a condo in a retiree association. That client wanted a bond to guarantee a palm tree planted outside would live for a certain amount of time. Really?
“Both requests were impossible guarantees!” Shayne laughs.
Constantly en route to new places, Shayne recalls an awkward-case scenario that has happened from time to time –
“Sometimes, while on the road, I’ll start handling new business without realizing someone back in the office is handling the same piece of business. It doesn’t happen a lot – but it has a few times. This can be confusing for agents, causing them to ask, ‘Okay, so who’s on first, guys?’”
Right when you think Shayne couldn’t be more of a mogul in the underwriting world, she talks about her 5-10 year plans.
“Sometimes I hear staff frustrations, and I want to help solve them. I want to build others up and work together. I want to pay it forward the way my mentors did to help me grow in my own career. I want to see other people do well for themselves.”
The smile is audible in her voice as Shayne gushes with gratitude over working for Old Republic Surety. She feels honored to work for a company that lifts employees up and encourages growth. She is never nervous to ask a question because she knows Old Republic welcomes curiosity and excels at providing answers to set its people up for success. As an underwriter, no two days are identical. Boredom is nonexistent, as every piece of business is a new and interesting learning opportunity.
“People in Home Office, our President Alan Pavlic and VP-Marketing Traci Catalano, make joint visits with underwriters. They are willing to get out in the field with us and are always making sure we know our input matters. The support and openness truly cultivates a sense of teamwork. It’s very embracing.”
If you want independence, travel adventures, and new friends in many places – an underwriting career is your path. Create your own footprints – contact surety underwriting and Old Republic Surety Company.
Interested in Underwriting?
Melissa Miller is a Freelance Journalist for Old Republic Surety. She has worked as a Pop Recording Artist/Songwriter for film and TV in Nashville, TN for the last six and a half years. Melissa has approximately ten years of professional writing experience. Originally from Cedarburg, WI, she worked as the Key Event Coordinator for Milwaukee’s Grand Slam Charity Jam via Kapco before relocating to Nashville in 2012. Melissa is a Summa Cum Laude graduate, with a Bachelors degree in Marketing/Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She loves cookie cakes and traveling – so far, she has made footprints on every continent except for Antarctica.