This is the Way: Whitnee Dillard of IIABA

April 7, 2020

Whitnee Dillard This is the Way

 

There was a time when Whitnee didn’t see herself in insurance.

With a background in the non-profit sector, she took a chance in the insurance industry by accepting a position as an underwriter. That position started out great. She loved accessing risk and learning policy jargon at the agency’s corporate headquarters. Unfortunately, that changed when she moved to a branch office far from home.

The lack of age, gender, racial and ethnic diversity combined with lack of developmental support caused her to dread going to work every day. Little did she know, her journey in insurance was just getting started. While living in Washington D.C., she was approached by a recruiter about the Big I. When she found out the organization was tied to insurance, she immediately expressed her lack of interest. The recruiter persuaded her to give the position a try.

Now, Whitnee is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at IIABA. She now says, “I am grateful that I did not end up giving up on the entire industry based on my initial experience.”

Outside of work, Whitnee loves watching her Michigan Wolverines play college football on Saturdays. She adores her nieces and nephews who she affectionately calls her “little people.” Whitnee was born and raised in a traditional Christian family and closely aligns her faith with her purpose.

What is Whitnee’s favorite thing about the insurance industry?

“I really enjoy the people I have met in this industry. There are so many people that care very much about others, and it’s rewarding to watch that care in action.”

We couldn’t agree more.

This is how Whitnee Dillard works.

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Location:

Philadelphia

Current gig:

Director of Diversity and Inclusion

One word that describes how you like to work:

Collaboratively

Whitnee Dillard at lunch with friends

Current mobile device:

iPhone

Current computer:

Mac for personal use, Dell for work

Project(s) you’re currently working on:

Mentorship program to help the growth and development of underrepresented agency owners. Diversity and inclusion playbook for Big “I” state chapters to provide ideas on how to help associations and agencies build and cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Accomplishments you’re proud of:

Last year I received a reward from our then Big “I” chairman, Joseph Leahy, for my exemplary work across the association which I am proud to have received. I am also very proud of spearheading our inaugural diversity conference for the independent agency channel “Level Up” which provided an opportunity for attendees to learn key business strategies to enhance their agency's growth, innovation and sustainability through diversity and inclusion.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

  • Host ongoing diversity and inclusion educational webinars
  • Assist in the development of new diversity initiatives across the country
  • Develop new diversity and inclusion best practices resources
  • Cultivate our new Diversity Council work groups

Whitnee Dillard hiking with friends

What are your biggest professional challenges?

Leading our diversity and inclusion initiatives is both rewarding and challenging. The challenge is not taking on more than we can actually accomplish at any given time. There are so many great initiatives to consider but we must focus on being great at a few verses mediocre at many

What do you like most about your job?

The people. I report to an amazing boss. We have great leadership across the association. And the Diversity Council is truly an allstar team of amazing leaders that are passionate about building and maintaining a culture of inclusion across our industry.

What technology, apps or tools can’t you live without?

GoToMeeting (it truly is a lifesaver when planning larger calls with the ability to share my screen, know who’s on the call and record the call at once); Doodle Polls (I am constantly meeting with groups so its extremely helpful to get everyone’s availability at once); Canva (game changer as it can make just about anyone look like a professional graphic designer in minutes); Zoom (it’s a new favorite as its helped me to not feel so far away from others during social distancing); Yelp ( I am a foodie and check it religiously before entering into a new food establishment); Instagram (I love drifting into a world of pictures and good quotes everyone now and then)

Describe your workspace:

Work remote so I get to have a ridiculously bright pink office chair that I try to hide when on video conferences. My desk is right next to a window as I love natural sunlight. I work with two monitors and have no idea how one was ever enough. I have an oil diffuser that I like to add citric smells to in the afternoon to keep the energy going. I also have an assortment of colorful pens as I get bored easily writing in just one color.

How do you manage your to-do list?

Each week I try to write out everything that needs to get done by the close of that week. I then daily prioritize what tasks I will be working on.

What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?

If a question can’t be answered in 3 sentences or less it’s worth picking up the phone as emails shouldn’t become essays.

What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?

Check my calendar to help in prioritizing what will be accomplished that day

What do you listen to while working?

Silence. Sometimes I play music but rarely as I am on the phone a lot throughout the day.

Podcasts or books?

Both

Whitnee Dillard with husband

 

Coffee or tea?

Tea – Yogi to be specific

Favorite social network?

Instagram, Facebook still remains a close second.

What are you watching on Netflix right now?

I am embarrassed to say that I binge watched Tiger King last weekend.

What does a typical day look like for you?

There isn’t a typical day but each day one question rings loud in my ear which is how we can we best implement inclusionary practices into the work we are doing across the association and externally facing. 

Who are your business idols and why?

I don’t have a business idol as there are many great business leaders out there that I have learned from but for today lets go for Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as they both have/had a mindset that’s out of this world where its excellence or nothing at all. I try my best to operate in that same vain. I also purposely chose these leading professional athletes as they also have shown to be a successful business leader you have to be a part of the team which I also see as vital for any business’s success.

What is your motto or personal mantra?

Stay inspired, to inspire!  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

God is not a respecter of persons so we shouldn’t be either. Treat everyone with respect and compassion.

If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?

Oprah Winfrey. Her story is very inspiring.

Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?

Madelyn Flannagan!

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