Twenty years ago, the idea of a digitally oriented broker – with clients buying coverage via voice or Web, using e-signatures to seal deals – wasn’t commonplace in the insurance industry. But Joyce Usher-Mesiano and her two partners in National Brokers Insurance, saw an opportunity to do something differently.
“Everything starts from a need,” says Usher-Mesiano. “We thought that if the three of us came together and started National Brokers Insurance, we would have the inspection side, the risk-management side, the accounting and claims management all put together in one package and be able to service clients better. The timing was perfect because we knew that paperless environments were coming in.”
Over two decades, National Brokers Insurance has experienced tremendous growth, expanding beyond its Ontario base to service a wide variety of clients across Canada. The firm evolved from what Usher-Mesiano describes as a branded house into a house of brands, creating programs for pharmacists (PharmaCover), travel agents (SPF 365), for high-net-worth clients (Platinum Private Services) and for female entrepreneurs (Bloom Insurance), for commercial clients (BRISK-Business Risk) among others. But the disruption facing their industry remains a constant.
“I think the real advantage was being in a room with like-minded entrepreneurs who are also looking to grow their businesses while sharing ideas and experiences. That was significant.”
Usher-Mesiano, who serves as president of National Brokers Insurance, enrolled in QuantumShift in 2016 to help navigate the company through choppy waters. “Going into it, just the pre-work that they give you was an eye-opener, changing the way I would typically write or talk about National Brokers Insurance. I think the real advantage was being in a room with like-minded entrepreneurs who are also looking to grow their businesses while sharing ideas and experiences. That was significant.”
The experience had such a profound impact on Usher-Mesiano that she continuously attends the alumni sessions, such as QuantumShift Miami, where she met an entrepreneur in the taxi industry whose business was undergoing similar change. “We took a deeper look at analytics and data – learning exactly where all this disruption was going and how you could better fit yourself within it,” she recalls. “This gentleman was able to rethink his business using specialization, analytics and data.”
Today, Usher-Mesiano is taking National Brokers on a similar journey – using more analytics, and especially artificial intelligence, to prepare her company for the road ahead. “We are taking a different look at how we handle business with all of our customers, new and renewing. A lot of these changes, in how the operational units work within our office, we made because of QuantumShift.”
Even though National Brokers Insurance is digitally oriented, the need for personal counsel is paramount to Usher-Mesiano. “We review the applications that come through in detail and talk to the individual. There are many different coverages and extensions that we can offer and we want them to understand the policy they have,” she notes, “all the while we remain focused on the expertise we have to offer”.
A rigorous five-day executive development experience offered through The Ivey Academy, QuantumShift™ annually challenges forty of Canada's most promising entrepreneurs to improve their leadership style, inspire their business partners and maximize their growth opportunities. QuantumShift™ is for CEOs whose businesses are past start-up. They're innovative, insightful business leaders. And they're ready to shift a thriving enterprise to a whole new level of success. Candidates are nominated through KPMG Enterprise and participants are selected by Ivey Business School's Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship.
As QuantumShift™ turns 15, we check in with some of the more than 550 Canadian entrepreneurs who have graduated from the program to see what the experience meant to them and their business.