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2022 Spencer Educational Foundation Scholarship recipient Teresa Dryden-Smith talks about her experience in the program and her mission to empower her community through education

A 2022 recipient of the Spencer Educational Foundation Scholarship, Teresa Dryden-Smith is currently a student in the Insurance Management Master’s program and an Executive Specialist in Surplus and Specialty lines at Crum and Foster. She handles liability claims for the hospitality industry but also matters involving summer camps, manufacturing recalls and professional liability. She recently discussed her experience with the program, the ever-changing nature of the industry and her mission to help her community unveil opportunities in the insurance industry and empower them through education.

 What do you enjoy most about your current role at Crum & Foster? 

I truly enjoy working with people.  My fondest career moments have been those involving direct interactions with persons impacted by an incident and simply listening to their stories.  So often, a report or medical record may provide information, but a direct dialog can add additional perspectives that might otherwise be unknown.  These interactions allow persons to feel heard and messages validated even if we don't always agree on other aspects of a case.

As a seasoned Insurance Industry professional, what do you think makes it an attractive industry to be in? 

With insurance, one can explore accounting, finance, actuarial science, operations, client interface roles, communications...the list is endless.  In claims, I can immerse myself in reviewing medical information, accident reconstruction reports, interviews and statements, analyze venue information...all in the same day.  My advice to those looking into a corporate environment but unsure where to go – try insurance.

You mentioned your goal as a professional and the need to give back to your community. By educating people about opportunities in the industry you want to help them realize their dreams. Can you discuss how you plan on doing that? 

Throughout my life, I have sought opportunities to educate, empower and elevate.   I have been fortunate to have people invest time and faith in me.  Now, I find myself in a position to be able to do this for others.  My dream goal professionally is to bring insurance related roles to people who are in areas of the country where they aren't familiar with these opportunities so they, too, may elevate and empower through education.  Some of the smartest people I’ve ever known live in Brown and Adams Counties in southern Ohio , but their hope has dwindled as industries have left.  I want to help bring it back as I know what it is like to feel broken and find your way.

Let’s talk a little bit about your experience as a student in the Insurance Management program. Since the engagement in the program is mostly online, how have you maximized networking and learning opportunities in the virtual environment and learning platform? 

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my fellow cohort members and group project teammates, Chris D., when he was in Chicago and my heart was so full that he made time to meet.  Virtually, we all make time for each other.  It is not uncommon to reach out to inquire about family and work as well as our projects. A success for a cohort member is truly a success for us all.  I am making professional connections and friends for life with the cohort and faculty in this program. 

The program has a focus on innovation and through leadership. Are there any developments or trends in risk management that you are particularly interested in? 

With robotics and autonomous driving impacting shipping, deliveries and even personal transportation, it will be interesting to see how insurance evolves.  As technology continues to advance, insurance risks will begin to change from those we know traditionally. From a claims perspective, liability and risk transfer, too, will evolve.  I also see environmental compliance continuing to impact insurance companies and how they are structured.  Agriculture and trucking are already utilizing carbon capture technologies on various conveyances and equipment to repurpose C02 emissions.  It is exciting to be part of this evolution!