Careers & Education

Walter Grant: Making a habit of overachieving

THE life insurance Guru

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 08, 2012    

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AFTER just about five minutes in his company, it becomes clear that Walter Grant, who made the leap from police officer to insurance agent more than a decade ago, is the consummate overachiever.

If the passion and enthusiasm he demonstrates for his work — which he tackles, always bearing in mind his "people buy difference, not similarity" philosophy — is not enough of an insight, the more than 50 trophies on display in his office is a dead giveaway.

"The secret is simply providing high-quality service to my clients and great mentoring and motivation to my advisors," Grant, an insurance executive with Sagicor, told Career & Education of his successes to date.

It is no surprise then that the 52-year-old, who holds the record for the life insurance industry with some 635 net settled cases in a given year, has been promoted to agency manager with the Liguanea Branch of his company.

His new duties will see him assisting the branch manager in the overall operations by "recruiting, mentoring and motivating financial advisors in general to achieve productivity targets, thereby assisting the branch to realise goals and quotas".

They are duties at which Grant is something of an 'old hand'.

"My previous responsibilities as unit manager were similar in that I was expected to recruit, mentor, and motivate advisors," he said, while noting his elation at being elevated to the new position.

"Although I was never passionate about being in management, my deep passion for mentoring agents — which is my main focus at Sagicor — has assisted me in reaching this level; this position legitimises my purpose," added the graduate of Ocho Rios Secondary and St George's School extension programme.

Grant, who insists that success is not a "me, me thing", currently has in place a system that rewards the top agent in his unit $10,000 and their name on the "Walter Grant Trophy".

"Success is when you help other people to succeed too," he told Career & Education.

His boss, Michael Lawe, is confident Grant will continue to deliver.

"I expect him to achieve all his sales targets," he said, noting that Grant was appointed on the basis of "his drive and tenacity [as well as] his years of consistent high sales performance" even as "his strong relationships with clients and corporate Jamaica groups cannot be overemphasised".

And if his track record is anything to go by, Lawe won't be disappointed. In addition to setting a personal record of settling the most cases in the industry in a year, Grant was a leader for the industry for three consecutive years (2007 to 2009) and has been made a life member and honour roll member of the Prestigious Million Dollar Round Table, an international group of the world's top insurance advisors.

In addition, Grant — who holds the Life Underwriters Training Course Fellow designation and who is presently pursuing the Financial Service Specialist designation:

* was unit manager of the Year for 2010 after only 11 months in the role;

* has set a new unit record having settled 1,735 cases in a year, achieving a 225 per cent quota; and

* has improved his team's previous year's record, settling 2,255 cases achieving 186 per cent of case quota.

On top of this list of accomplishments, Grant said he brings a number of strengths to the new position, including, critically, his experience in and passion for customer service and performance as well as mentorship.

In the next year, he hopes to recruit eight new advisors and one other unit manager while boosting his company's bottomline.

Ultimately, Grant — who grew up between Rocky Hill District in St Mary and Jones Town in Kingston — said he sees himself operating a branch of his own "with the same enthusiasm and record-breaking performances" he has experienced as an agent and unit manager.

He has encouraged other Jamaicans in pursuit of their own promotions to stay the course.

"Have a passion for what you do, and then everything else will fall in place. Working in a managerial position was the furthest thing from my mind, but when success became the order of the day, elevation and promotion followed," said Grant, who has come through the life insurance ranks from insurance agent in 1992 to senior life underwriter in 2002, executive agent in 2003 before his 2010 appointment to unit manager and now agency manager.

As for the youths out of his home communities, he urges "start doing something with your lives".

"The important thing is not where you are coming from, but to ensure you have a goal and start working towards it. In my earlier years, I can recall walking the different streets in Jones Town selling farm produce. I also assisted my aunt who used to sell in the Coronation Market. My aim was to do something with my life, something positive — no matter how small it seemed," he said.

Along the way, he learnt some important lessons.

"I learned the value of hard work and perseverance, and I learned that I wanted something better for myself and my family. Young people today need to recognise the value in working towards [their] goal and reject the 'get-rich-quick' mentality," Grant said.

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