Lockton is the largest privately held insurance brokerage firm in the world, with 6,000+ associates. More than 50,000 clients across the globe work with Lockton for risk management, insurance and employee benefits.

Related: All in the family

Paul Wilson: How did you get your start in the benefits industry?

I was already working in the industry at a health care technology company, and I liked the idea of moving to a company where I could build a business around the relationships I had in the industry. When I got to Lockton, it became more obvious that there were so many parallels between the provider world of health care and the employer world of health care.

PW: How has your background in the industry helped you in your career?

I think it has benefited me a lot. I try to look at any prospective or current client relationship very holistically. And that might not just be from a traditional health and welfare standpoint; it may also play into what we do from a retirement or a property and casualty perspective. I first try to understand where their business is going and how the people working in that organization are following the strategy the corporation has set. And then we’ll figure out what we can do from a brokerage and consulting perspective to support that.

PW: What are some of the major trends you expect to see for the industry?

If any broker wants to survive in the industry the way it is now, you have to have tools and resources to drive real value to your clients’ bottom lines. The basic brokerage work, the blocking and tackling, should just be a client’s minimum level of expectation. We need to continue to add value around consulting services. So how do we provide insight into what they should be focusing on and make recommendations that will have an impact for them? How do we tell them to manage their plan and how they improve upon the health of their employees?

We also have to be very purposeful around engaging the C-suite so they can understand how the costs are changing and the role they play in minimizing the rate of increase, especially on the medical plan. The traditional role of brokerage work with the HR team has definitely evolved. I don’t know if smaller brokers are going to be able to survive in an environment like that. How do you grow your client relationships or your book of business when you’re bogged down in the day-to-day or even the quarterly financial work that needs to be done?

PW: Tell me about the mentorship program you have within your company. How has that benefitted you?

Our Elite Women Producers Program provides me with access and information to a group of producers who are focused on continuous development and improvement. It’s provided an open forum for us to talk about the challenges we face in a traditionally male-dominated industry. When you’re a working mom balancing it all, you’ve just got a lot going on. So I feel like one of the main things we’ve all talked about on the monthly calls we have is just honing our time management skills.

PW: Who are your favorite innovators or sources of inspiration?

I love reading Brené Brown and her message around vulnerability. Being vulnerable and honest about who I really am allows me to be open with other people, both internally at Lockton and with my clients and prospective clients.

Related: The roundabout path

The other person whose message really resonated with me was Steve Jobs. Maybe that’s a little cliché, but the piece I love about him is the focus on simplicity and taking something very complex and breaking it down. If we can really focus on continuing to break down the complexity of what we do from an insurance and a benefits perspective, and package it in a way that’s more simplistic in nature, we will come up with a secret sauce that has yet to be developed.

Brooke Runnion, vice president and producer at Lockton Companies, manages her clients with one common goal: to drive down the cost of insurance programs. She has been with Lockton since 2009, and looks to a data-driven approach to help her clients mitigate health care costs and implement strategies to lower future costs.