Chief Customer Chat: Six skills more valuable than background

Six Steps

By: Cassidy Smirnow

I graduated from college with a degree that reflects one of my life’s greatest passions and prepared me for an amazing career path — geology. I could find a way to frame what I learned about geology that ties back to my career in InsurTech, but there is no reason that I should — because it doesn't matter.  

This is not to say that experience and learned skills don’t contribute to someone’s abilities in their career or a candidate’s potential, because they certainly do. However, I argue that there are more important factors to consider than someone's background, and especially more than their degree (or lack thereof). At Vertafore, we put in place six principles that make up The Vertafore Way, and when hiring new employees and considering promotions, we consider how they will uphold these principles. For us, these are more important than their background:  

Say it, do it (Accountability) 

I want people on my team that I can depend on. If I can trust that my co-workers are going to follow through on tasks, I can trust that our organization is well cared for.  I want people who keep their promises. 

Show up curious (Resourceful)  

Our world is constantly evolving and so are processes and ideas. Someone who continues to ask questions and put in the effort to learn may end up being a more valuable team member overall than someone who has experience in the industry but has difficulty adapting to change.  

Bias to action (Driven)  

Bias to action is the formal way of saying, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” I want people on my team who are willing to make decisions even if there is a risk involved. I’d rather a person take a risk to solve a problem, and potentially fail, than to be stuck in analysis paralysis or default to the status quo. 

Win Together (Teamwork) 

Where a person may lack experience or skill is easily patched by their ability to work with others who can fill in those gaps. Collaboration solves problems, brings innovative ideas, and creates cohesion — all of which are necessary for success. 

Customer success is our success (Empathetic)  

Without empathy, we cannot hope to understand one another. A Vertafore employee could have years of experience within one of our products, but if they’ve never put themselves in the shoes of our end-users, their experience doesn’t help better the company or drive customer satisfaction. I want to be surrounded by people who know for sure that we are not successful if our customers are not successful. 

We love insurance (Passionate) 

At Vertafore, “We love insurance” means that we are proud to be a part of the insurance community, committed to the entire distribution channel, and enthusiastic about innovative technologies that better the industry. Passion is always a plus, and it helps employees naturally fill their knowledge and experience gaps. 

Working in InsurTech with a degree in geology has taught me many things, but above all it has taught me that curiosity, aptitude, and attitude are more important than experience, every time — and that is a philosophy anyone can carry over into any industry and any position throughout an evolving career.

cassidy smirnow headshot

Cassidy Smirnow is Vertafore’s resident customer expert with a passion is for building customer-first cultures that transform businesses. With a proven track record of improving customer retention and enabling teams to provide best-in-class customer experiences, Cassidy is the embodiment of the Vertafore Way principle, “Customer Success is Our Success."