The diversity of thesebrokers' backgrounds—an apt reflection of the industryoverall—is a testament to what it takes to succeed in the benefitsworld. (Photo: Joe Ariniello/ALM)

Our Broker of the Year finalists sat down for onemore interview with editor-in-chief Paul Wilson, and at the end,one would be named our 2018 Broker of the Year. There were sixchairs on stage at this year's BenefitsPRO BrokerExpo panel instead of the usual five, Bob Gearhart Sr. and Gearhart Jr.'scomplementary achievements earning them a shared spot on thepanel.

They started with a softball question about how each got theirstart in the business, giving the packed room a bit of insight intothe myriad paths that can all lead to the benefitsindustry. Gearhart Sr. started in finance, whilehis son had aspirations to play Major League Baseball.Beth Robertson made her foray into benefitsfrom the HR side, and Julie Freidus started in health careunderwriting. Bret Brummitt shared Gearhart Jr.'s dreams ofplaying pro baseball (but it was his exploration of a career incriminal justice that led him into insurance), and the possibilityof majoring in something related to insurance never occurred to ourBroker of the Year Billy Potter when he was an economics major incollege.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is director, content analytics for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.