Declan O’Reilly, Advisor, Saskatoon, SK, highlights his keys to success, his dream of visiting India and his love for his Irish roots.
My job title is: Agent/Owner for The Co-operators
Which means that I… am responsible for setting the direction and priorities for our office, including where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. On a daily basis, one of my responsibilities is clearing a path for my staff to tackle the important work of looking after clients and growing the business. I’m also primarily responsible for driving new business, which, amongst other things, involves networking and being involved in the community.
What I like most about my job is: I sincerely love insurance and what it provides for people.
Agency: O’Reilly Insurance Ltd.
Years of service: Seven
I feel energized at work when I… go a month without any major claims! Having said that, the greatest thrill in our business is adding a new household, especially when we beat out Saskatchewan Government Insurance!
You came to The Co-operators in 2007 and took over one of the smaller agencies in the district. Since then, your agency has grown significantly. What’s been the key to your success? Before joining The Co-operators, I worked for two brilliant sales organizations: Pitney Bowes (PB) and Sun Life. With PB and Sun Life, I learned the importance of growth. Once you have identified what growth is it’s easier to understand and accept what’s necessary to build a successful agency. Finding and hiring good people is critical as well. I believe I have the best staff I could ask for. They’re hardworking, smart, great with clients, and they’re self-motivated. My thanks to Michele, Gordon, Jennifer, George, Nhu, Tony, Sarah and Melissa.
Your district manager described you as “the definition of laser focus.” What tips do you have for working smarter or more efficiently? I just like to keep things simple. I have a one page, five-year plan and have introduced specialization across all product lines. I identify the critical parts of my objectives and targets, playing close attention to the activities that result in the greatest successes.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from your peers or mentors? I started in the insurance industry with Mutual Life of Canada, now Sun Life. Kevin Hunter was the sales manager and emphasized every day that insurance is not bought, it’s sold. That advice has been very important to my success. When I started with The Co-operators in 2007, there were four other advisors starting in Saskatchewan and we all came from different backgrounds with different skill sets. We ended up forming an informal alliance to help and support each other, and we follow through on that pact today.
How do you help bring our client engagement strategy to life? Contacting and engaging with our clients is what we do. It’s part of our five-year business plan and part of the culture of our office. Our office has created an environment where clients feel welcome, respected and appreciated.
How have you changed/grown since your first day at The Co-operators? Aside from the fact that I have more grey hair, I’m a much better business person than I was with PB or Sun Life. There’s a huge difference in being a sales manager and being an advisor/owner for The Co-operators. For example, I now have to manage cash flow, hire and train staff, and create a brand/identity within the community.
How do you give back to your community? I’m always eager to support the arts community. Along with The Co-operators, I sponsor the Saskatchewan Book Awards – First Book Award. My staff and I are also proud to donate the wall space in our office to emerging artists, effectively turning the office into a gallery. To date, we have featured exhibits from 10 artists, which we helped promote through social media. At the end of each exhibit, we host a wine and cheese event for the artist. The current artist is Darren Cannell, and his feature piece is “Winter Blue Jay” (see photo below).
If you could have dinner with anyone from history, whom would it be and why? John F. Kennedy…can you imagine the stories?
What subject do you wish you had paid more attention to in school? I did learn Gaeilge (Irish) at school, but passed on the opportunity to learn French. If I could do it over, I would have also learned French.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? India. I love the food, I love their history, and I love trains.
What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod? At the moment I’ve been playing a lot of traditional Irish music, mostly a band called Planxty.
In my community, the event I most like to attend is… You mean other than playing, coaching or watching soccer? In Saskatoon, there’s a very vibrant Irish music and cultural organization called Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. When they organize a ceili, the craic is brilliant!
My favourite quote is: I have a saying I use with all the soccer teams I’ve coached: “Work hard, play fair, have fun and be respectful.”