Paul R. Schaaf, CIC, CRM
Cameron M. Harris & Co.
Years at company: 4 College: Duquesne University ’96 BSHS,’97 MPT
What’s been your biggest achievement thus far?
I moved from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas and didn’t know anyone. I started my book from scratch and was able to build it to more than $1 million in revenue in less than four years. That was rewarding because so many people said it couldn’t be done.
What career challenges did you encounter when moving to a new state?
Each region of the country conducts business in a different style, and it was a challenge to assimilate to that new culture. People down South really want to know you as a person—where you go to church, who your parents are—before they do business with you. it takes time to develop those relationships.
How can employers recruit young talent?
Employers need to identify talent at the college level. There are many great collegiate risk management programs and young professionals with a compatible skill set who could make a successful transition into this industry. Once a young employee joins the company, we need to provide mentoring and share the structured process of the firm.
How can employers retain young talent?
We need to listen to the talent and understand their goals. Some young professionals may want equity, some may want immediate financial remuneration and some want greater flexibility with their schedules. With their input, we can create a common goal that is meaningful to them, yet also serves the company.
What’s your mantra for success?
Always leave the relationship, prospect, client and carrier in better positions than how I found them. I don’t want to be selfish, I want to bring a tangible that’s meaningful—even if it means sending the relationship to a competitor.
What is an important lesson you learned when joining a professional working environment?
You need to be focused and committed to accomplishing your success. There are a lot of very talented individuals and teams in this business. Second place usually does not allow you to issue binders; you need to be competitive and relevant.