7 June 2023
In some offices, a phone call after 5pm would have been sent to voicemail, and the message picked up and addressed the next day.
And, for most customers, that would be perfectly understandable.
However, when the office phone at Elders Insurance Benalla, Victoria, started ringing one Tuesday afternoon, Lauren Barrow, the SSO, leapt to answer.
“There was just me and my colleague Lisa in the office, everyone else was out on appointments. Even though it was after 5pm and the office was technically closed, I answered – it could have been a client who needed us in an emergency,” she explains.
That dedication to her team, clients and wider industry encapsulates exactly why Lauren’s so highly regarded by everyone who comes into contact with her. And explains why, on this occasion, the phone call wasn’t a client, but Peter Mackereth, General Manager of Elders Insurance, who was calling to inform Lauren she’d been named the Elders Insurance national SSO of the Year for 2022.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she laughs. “I thought it was going to be someone from New South Wales with all of the work they had to do with the floods, so it was a real surprise.”
It was a happy moment laced with a huge amount of sadness for Lauren, however. The week before receiving the call to inform her she’d won, her father had passed away.
“When I won the Victorian SSO award, my dad was very proud of me, and as soon as Peter said I’d won the national award I broke down in tears. It was all very surreal.
“It went from happiness to sadness to happiness again, because my boss, Peter Barri, walked through the door to congratulate me as he’d been told I’d be receiving the call!”
Making insurance her home
Lauren has been with the Elders Insurance team at Benalla and Mansfield for almost five years. However, her path into the insurance world – just like many others who work in the profession – wasn’t what you might call deliberate.
“I’d left school and was working as a beauty therapist,” she says. “But, it was very seasonal – during summer I’d be working flat out every day, and during winter I might get one day per fortnight.
“I decided I needed to get a ‘proper’ job, so I walked down the main street, giving printed copies of my resume to different businesses. I was invited in for an interview by Peter Barri here at Elders Insurance, and I must have done okay because I was given the job!”
Lauren admits, however, that it wasn’t until she sat down at her computer on day one that she understood what the business was all about.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but funny too,” she says with a smile. “I sat there and thought, ‘Okay, so this is what we do… insurance!’
“But it’s like the Barris say, ‘You don’t pick insurance, insurance picks you!’”
An environment for success
And Lauren’s very glad it did. Working with ‘the Barris’ (Peter’s wife Leanne and their daughter Ashleigh are also involved in the business) means a busy, fun and fulfilling workplace.
“It’s such a good environment,” Lauren says. “Everyone’s there to support each other, and if you have difficulties, you can always ask someone for help. We have a lot of fun and a lot of laughter, even on those stressful days.”
It’s a feeling that’s reciprocated.
“It’s smile-worthy to reflect on how this young lady, who knew nothing about insurance four and a half years ago, is now our leading Sales Support Officer,” says Peter Barri.
“Whenever we’ve had a shift in the team, Lauren has been there. Whenever we’ve needed her to take on more responsibility and more work, Lauren rises to the challenge and just gets the job done. Whenever we have a new team member, Lauren is there for them. And whenever we need support, Lauren is always there for all of us.
“She embraces her work and us fully. She is kind, considerate, accepting, passionate about Elders Insurance and our business, incredibly intelligent and beyond patient.
“In Lauren’s years working with Elders Insurance, she has built very strong and positive relationships with all head office staff that she’s worked with and our clients, small and large.”
It’s that appetite to learn that has served Lauren extremely well – and, while she is very happy doing her day-to-day job, she’s always seeking more knowledge to help offer the business and clients more.
“Every day, there are things that crop up that I’ve never come across before,” she says. “For example, the other day, someone came in about a bridge construction business, and I love those instances where something different comes up, and you get a chance to look at a completely different area within insurance.”
The Elders Insurance team, clients and Lauren are all grateful that, on the day resumes were handed to prospective employers, it was Elders that invited Lauren in to discuss the opportunities that lay ahead!