Employee Spotlight: Morgan Marlow

What’s your role at PS&F?

My role is to oversee the people management side of the commercial department for the commercial service team – specifically healthcare, construction and crew. So, I help coordinate and review procedures, manage operations, mediate people issues, and work on a book of business, too.

What inspired you to start a career in insurance?

Back when I was 19 years old, I stumbled across an ad for a position as an insurance agency receptionist on Craigslist. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life at the time; I was an English literature major in college. I answered the ad and got the job. Part of their onboarding process was to help me get my producer license, so I could do more than simply talk on the phone.

Then someone at the company quit, and I was promoted to account manager the next day. It was very much a sink or swim scenario – and I ended up swimming. I became an insurance nerd, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve liked puzzles, and I think that explains my interest in insurance. I’ve always enjoyed taking things apart, seeing how they work, and figuring out how to put them back together. A good portion of what we do here is figuring out the best solution for a client, usually with limited market appetites, and always with some weird complication in the mix. I get to piece it all together for them, and that’s what really thrills me.

So were you the kid who would take apart the microwave to see how it worked?

Well I grew up on a farm, so it was usually farming equipment (laughs). But yes! My dad had a big shop and I would go through looking for things I could destroy and put back together. I’d say, “Look what I made, dad!” While his question would be, “Where did you find a welder?!”

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from farm life that has helped you in your career?

Everything really comes down to hard work; you get what you put into it. When you work a farm, everything that it produces is a direct result of your effort. You get up every morning and feed the animals, water the garden, pick vegetables, or collect eggs. Something tangible comes from that.

It’s the exact same in a professional services environment. If you come into the office every day and just do what you need to do to get by, then you’ll just kind of sustain. Nothing will ever grow from your efforts. You need to work hard every single day, and as long as you’re happy, you’ll have something to show for it.

What’s something that your coworkers would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a huge Star Trek nerd. I dress up and go to all of the conventions like Rose City Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con. Voyager is my favorite iteration, and Janeway is my spirit guide.

I’ll always find ways to fit Start Trek quotes into everyday conversations, and I’ll know if I should befriend someone if they catch onto it. I’ve been walking around saying, “There’s coffee in that nebula,” and most people have looked at me like I’m crazy. I just think everyone needs to watch more Star Trek.

In that case…which is your favorite: Captain Kirk or Picard?

Oh that’s so hard! I would have to say Picard. Kirk was great, but he wasn’t quite as diplomatic. Picard brought a certain calmness and serenity, and you can really appreciate how he looked at the universe and wanted people to consider different points of view.

I think watching Star Trek as a kid influenced my worldview. Don’t just look up and see a sky; think about what you see beyond that.

Have you had a mentor whose advocacy has really helped you in your career?

I’ve had a couple throughout my career who have advocated for me heavily or taken chances on me and my abilities. Honestly, my biggest mentors were my parents. They’re both managers – my dad was a foreman on the docks, and my mom managed an operating room. I’ve always wanted to be a manager because of how they acted with their employees.

For example, they’d tell me to always consider the point of view of the person sitting in front of you. If someone’s coming to you with an issue, they have a reason to do so. Give them the respect and dignity to honestly think about the issue, and then ask them to back it up with facts. Those facts give you the ability to make an educated decision.

So, nowadays when I’m dealing with problems where there’s tension or emotions are running high, I try to remain non-emotional while being respectful of the issue at hand. I don’t want to contribute to the problem; I want to be a voice of reason.

What’s something exciting going on in the insurance industry right now?

A lot of carriers are changing their offered limits, so we have to put layered programs in place where we wouldn’t have had to do that before. What that means is…say you have a real estate company with a schedule of $400 million of total insured value. An insurance carrier in today’s hard market might look at that and decide they only want to offer $100 million this year. But you still have $300 million that you need to insure. So you have to go back to the market and analyze how you could have multiple insurers participate at different levels in order to completely insure the company’s value. That’s a simplified example of how you would start to layer the program, but also a very real issue we deal with on many of our larger, property-heavy schedules.

It’s another one of those puzzle aspects of this job that I enjoy so much, and I’m experiencing it more and more working here at Parker, Smith & Feek. I get to review how my predecessors have structured these programs in the past, compare it against the future offerings from insurers, and sometimes rebuild everything. It’s very exciting for me.

The challenging part is the hard market; insurers aren’t participating at the same level they would previously. It’s a changing environment, and we’re forced to form new relationships and find new answers to problems. So, it can be stressful, but once we succeed in piecing it together, I always get that extra thrill.

PROFILE:

Where are you from? Gig Harbor, Washington

Family? Partner, Dominic; sons, Zachary (8) and Theodore (3 months); two dogs, one cat

Favorite vacation spot? Casa del Puente, Puerto Vallarta

Favorite author? James Rollins and Jane Austen

Pacific Northwest favorite? Digging for razor clams on the coast with my family

Favorite quote? “The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing.” – Socrates


Interviewed and edited by Sara Brauchla, Parker, Smith & Feek’s Marketing Specialist. She is our dedicated copywriter and editor of all published materials, including spotlights, which offer a peek at who our hardworking employees really are when not consulting on our clients’ insurance programs. Stay tuned for her next installment, and refer to our blog or articles page for more of her work.
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