Sarah Parker, Class of 2005
As a Policyholder Supervisor, Sarah Parker with Auto-Owners Insurance Co. feels most rewarded when she can help motivated employees be successful and see them achieve their goals. Sarah states, “I have always had a super busy life, and I set small and medium goals, and once I reach them I set new ones.” Sarah’s goal setting encompasses career, personal, and educational arenas. “You are never too old to set and achieve goals,” she says. “What I did was create a plan once I got in the door.”
“After working for a credit union for a couple of years as a bank teller, I realized that my salary and promotions would eventually be capped, so I began to look for a job that had a higher ladder than branch manager.” Sarah started as a data entry clerk with Auto Owners and created a plan. “Once I was in the door, I asked what was needed to be promoted, and to finish my degree was one requirement.”
Sarah began with an Associate of Arts in Management and Marketing from Midlands Technical College in 2005 and expects to obtain her MBA in 2014. “Because of my busy life, I had to do it in stages. I got my associate’s first, and took a break. Then I went and got my bachelor’s, and took a break. Now I am finishing my MBA in December, and then I will celebrate! I have been working on all of this since 1998,” she explains. Sarah’s goal-setting allowed her to stay focused. “Do not stop at your associate’s [degree],” Sarah encourages. “Keep going no matter how long it takes.”
Midlands Tech provided Sarah with the ability to write professionally, manage staff fairly, and protect herself as an employee. “The most important thing was that many of my professors were full-time professionals and part-time teachers, and they could give real life scenarios,” said Sarah, emphasizing that she learned a great deal from her instructors’ experiences.
Sarah spends time coaching and counseling her staff of ten on human resources issues, promotions, and workload. Her job requires her to network through frequent meet and greets with home office executives, insurance agents, and vendors. Sarah prepares and presents materials for continuing education credit to insurance agents and has also represented her industry at career fairs and high schools.
“Employees need to have good communication skills and be open minded (there are always gray areas). They should have a willingness to continue to learn and not be complacent.” Her advice for Midlands Technical College students who are interested in this field is to take a business writing class to help with writing employee reviews, disciplines, and memos.
As for her personal life, Sarah works full-time and is the single parent of four children, including one who has Down syndrome. Needless to say she is busy! “Scheduling is very important,” she states. Sarah juggles sports, special needs sports, and her daughter’s piano lessons for eleven months of the year and tries to relax and take it easy during the month off. She plans to travel more once she completes her MBA.