52 in 52 - Week 9: Sterling Seacrest Pritchard with Jeb Blazevich and Gina Roman


What motivated you to join SSP?

Jeb: After playing as a UGA tight end, I graduated in 2017 and tried to make a team and then I started working at one of the top five brokerage firms in Nashville.  I started off in account management, then moved to production, and was fortunate to see a small company be acquired by a big company.  As we went through that transition I had the opportunity to grow but I knew that I wanted to get back closer to home.  The first thing that was important to me was to get back to a smaller company with a chance at equity.  Secondly, I tried to find a place that would support me as a new broker and help me support the clients.  So often you see the small firms become successful enough to sell to the bigger firms,  but I took a leap of faith with SSP because of the people that I met and immediately saw there was a culture that would support me in my first year of production.

How does your company convey to employees a sense of belonging?

Jeb: I'm able to come into the office every day, which was actually important to me when starting up at a new company.  Regarding a sense of belonging, I see culture as more of an identifier.  It's less about what we're aiming for and more about identifying what we are currently doing.  The people at SSP are really selfless and they do an amazing job of supporting me, coaching me, and teaching me.  They let me run with things and have been incredible teammates and have gone out of their way to help the new guy get up and running. 

Gina: We've tried to create as much of a flexible environment as we can and have tried to figure out life post-pandemic. We thought about how we could give people the flexibility the needed and the support they needed and, to Jeb's point, we really tried to build buckets on what everyone needed so if you wanted to be in the office, you could. When we rewrote the values for the agency, we weren't creating new things that we were going out and striving to do just because we had written it down, the values were already there but they weren't written down.

In what ways does SSP support your professional development and growth?

Jeb: There are lots of designations; you can get your fancy letters if that's something you want to do.  We are always in talks with our benefits department asking how we can make our best better and we are continually sharing ideas and trying to get trained up.  There are new rules coming out every day and we need to stay compliant, but we are sharing ideas with each other for the larger benefit our of clients.  We are always checking up on one another, sharing best practices, in addition to the formal kind of professional development. 

Gina: Yeah, we have a lot of internal knowledge and we push that knowledge out to the people are here.  Our benefits department does it so well  because they are such a tight knit group.  We certainly offer opportunities for continuing education but it's really important for us to create opportunities for internal education as well where we can continue to collaborate and share what steps we've made to make everyone better. 

In what ways do you feel supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

Gina: We have an unlimited PTO policy in an effort to really create flexibility for our team members. It's monitored, but we treat them as adults but we never want our team to pass on unique opportunities because of a PTO limit.  Our work from home policy offered more flexibility.  We really have aimed to provide flexibility so that our team members can accomplish more than just pay their bills--spending time with friends and families, attending important events for our kids.

How do you know that you're making an impact with the work you do?

Jeb: I almost got out of this industry.  In fact, I tried and thankfully failed, and God told me to get back to work.  I had completely lost sight of who I was doing this work for.  I tell my clients all the time that if healthcare worked how I think it should, I wouldn't have a job.  Healthcare can be really frustrating and I had to ask myself why I was doing  this and what my higher calling was. The two things I really enjoy doing is advocating for others and empowering them, and I get to do that through insurance.  Finding creative solutions around a broken system and helping empower others to navigate this system for themselves is really where I find my calling in this.

What makes you proud to represent SSP?

Jeb: It's the people, it's the organization as a whole  that make it so great.  I don't have to go way outside of the box to feel valued here. In insurance, we get the same rates as everybody else but it's the people that we're selling.  The people and the service.  That's why I'm proud to work here.  We have the right people to do the right job.

In what ways do you feel like you've grown since working for SSP?

Jeb: I realized that I was only scratching the surface with what we can help our clients with.  I've grown in terms of creative solutions.  Personally, I've been able to learn from the account management team, the shareholders, and I've been able to peel back the layers to understand how the business is thinking holistically and it's been incredibly important. I'd never been able to sit in on some of these decisions as we set direction for what we were going to try and bake into the operating budgets for benefits and what we need to lobby for.

What do you wish you had knowing about the professional world while you were a student?

Jeb: I knew that I was going to use football to leverage my professional career.  I would say that I wish I did a better job of networking, making sure I added folks to my LinkedIn network and trying to stay up to date there.  I use LinkedIn heavily with my current prospecting and I try to stay involved with my clients.  I also wish I would have thought more about the different avenues of insurance because I really didn't know what went into it. 

As a football player I got to shake hands with so many people that I would have never met otherwise, so I wish I had done a better job of getting information instead of it just being a conversation with a Georgia Football Player. 

Gina: Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way because you never know where it's going to lead. I'd also say that if you're chasing a paycheck you may be chasing the wrong place. 

What advice would you share to those seeking their first professional opportunities?

Gina: Try different things because you never know where that fit is going to be for you.  I also tell people they shouldn't think of an interview as "are they going to want me.'  They need to take a step back and make sure that that's the person they want to work for.   It's just as much about them as it is for the company they're going to work for to ask questions that are really important to them. If you're going to go for an opportunity make sure you're going to get value out of it: if you're going to be pouring into a job, make sure it is pouring into you as well. 

Jeb: If you have your dream job right out of college, you aimed way to low.  Honestly, you're not good at anything yet. So take the time to learn and find continue to aim higher.  Even if you're afraid that it's not going to be something you enjoy, you may be heading towards the right spot and it can become a great stepping stone for you.  Begin with the end in mind and don't begin with your passion--passion requires dedication, sacrifice, and love so the odds are you're not passionate about anything yet.  

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