A lucky break

It’s difficult to imagine just how much impact a broken limb can have. There are the immediate concerns such as restricted movement, difficulty dressing oneself, and of course the horrific pain. But for Shane Brady, an Account Manager at Sear Insurance Brokers, a broken arm was the catalyst for a brand new adventure.

In 2009 the then 20-year-old amateur footballer was working in administration at a corporate finance firm. Recovering from injury, he would hurry to football training from his job, only to watch on the sidelines as his teammates went through their weekly drills. It was there, leaning against the boundary fence, dressed immaculately in suit, tie and matching sling, that Shane’s life took a turn

At the time I was working in a career that didn’t present opportunities to grow and progress. Being unable to train and restricted to the sidelines, I met a man whose two sons were playing for the club.

“His name was Andrew Sear and not long after meeting we got onto the topic of career progression.  He began asking me questions about my career, my ambitions, my goals and objectives and eventually the more sensitive details such as remuneration and my financial goals. After about three or four weeks, he planted the idea of insurance and how I could make a career of it.”

Unbeknownst to Shane it would end up being a month-long informal job interview and it steered Shane to what has already become a fascinating and rewarding career — one that he doesn’t anticipate leaving. Shane took a newly created role and immediately knew that he made the right choice.

“Andrew places a lot of emphasis on education and professional development and I was given a lot of training, both on the job and through formal qualifications. Over the years I’ve accumulated a thorough understanding of the industry and the complex intricacies that come with it.” says Shane.

But training and coursework can only take you so far. According to Shane, it was the opportunity to do something different, to show a bit of creativity and innovation and to be responsible for and own a project that accelerated his progress.

“Starting out as an assistant account executive, one of my first tasks was to manage a basic administration system we used to use to manage our policy documentation. It was cumbersome and tedious but it helped me put together the map of what insurance was and what all the different products were and how they worked,” says Shane. “About six months in, I floated the idea to change the system into an internal online database. Much to Shane’s delight Andrew agreed to back in the bold plan to change the system and agreed to move forward leaving Shane in charge of developing the new system.”

Over the next seven years, that seed of an idea has flourished into what Shane proudly calls ‘an automated management and compliance system’ that could completely revolutionise the way brokers manage their documentation and compliance. The system integrates all steps of the transactional processes we use every day and has all the functions and capabilities to take “broking to the next level”.

It’s quite an achievement; one that Shane believes speaks to the faith placed in new ideas and the opportunities that exist in the world of insurance. It also highlights an aspect of the industry that Shane finds incredibly fulfilling — the diversity.

“The thing that I love the most about being a broker is the diversity. It’s often you walk into a factory and see something you’ve never seen before. The challenges are never the same and you’re exposed to so many different industries and people that you can’t help but develop a broad range of life experiences” says Shane.

“The opportunity to learn about so many different things is one of the greatest attractions. I can tell you about the ins and outs of so many different industries —the sorts of things you just wouldn’t know about unless you worked for them or in insurance.”

“If you like mathematics at school, you can be an actuary; if you love chemistry and get a kick out of pouring things into beakers and watching it explode, you can be a fire investigator — there’s something in the insurance industry that caters to everyone,” says Shane.

Variety aside, it is the human element and the sense of helping people that motivates Shane to get up out of bed in the morning. Shane admits that early on, his understanding of insurance was limited and the jobs people did, less so. Now seven years later, he has a deep appreciation for the role he and others in insurance play, and believes wholeheartedly that it’s not products they provide, but advice and protection.

Harking back to the Brisbane floods in 2011, Shane remembers taking a call in the early hours of the morning from a distressed client whose business was completely under water.

“I remember taking the call at about five in the morning and the client says, “Shane, I’m really sorry about calling you so early, but I don’t know what to do. My entire store is under water, what do I do?” he recalls.

“I told him to get to high ground, to keep safe and that everything would be ok. From that conversation onward up to the moment he began operating his business again — without a single dollar out of pocket — it was such a great experience in hindsight, knowing you’ve made a huge difference in someone’s life.”

With events like the Brisbane floods impacting so many people, moments like this typify the vital role Shane and his broker peers play in helping entire communities rebuild. A role that Shane finds both humbling and gratifying.

“Being able to help people in those sorts of compromised situations is very rewarding. You don’t get that from most jobs.”