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Monday, April 13, 2015

Women ‘breaking bad’ in auto damage careers at GEICO

GEICO auto damage adjustersSome might call it woman’s intuition; that drive, enthusiasm and ambition that led GEICO’s Julia Chapman to give auto damage (AD) adjusting a whirl. Julia knew nothing about cars, but she loves a challenge – and she wouldn’t be the first or last female in her family to make her mark in a male-dominated profession.

Julia’s mom owns a car dealership. And her mom hold her own in a male-dominated industry inspired Julia, who will celebrate eight years with GEICO this year.

“I just loved watching her interact with people who had a lot of tenure, while she was the ‘new kid on the block,’” Julia said of her mom, “but she owned it, and she was willing to learn everything she needed to do to build strong relationships.”

During Julia’s final rotation in GEICO’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2009, she opted to work in the field, driving a GEICO-wrapped car, writing estimates and issuing claims checks. That meant moving from GEICO’s San Diego office – where she’d already completed rotations in sales, service, underwriting, planning and liability claims – to her assigned AD territory in San Francisco.

Julia completed three months of AD training, including the “boot camp” at GEICO’s AD school in McLean, Va. Her class of 34 included only two other females. She found this experience as rewarding as it was challenging.

“There was something about doing something totally new, in a male-dominated position,” Julia recalled. “I never felt I had anything to prove, but it always felt good when someone was impressed with my level of knowledge.”

Julia had fully transitioned from Emerging Leader to AD supervisor when her younger sister Elana Abramov – a recent college graduate with a biology degree – was rethinking her plan to apply for medical school. Julia thought Elana would also be great in AD. “I told her, ‘If you want a job with a solid company, come to GEICO.’

Elana applied to GEICO and became an AD trainee in 2013. She finished in the top five of her AD basic training class of 60 (including eight females). Elana didn’t know cars any better than Julia had, but working as a certified emergency medical technician while in college had prepared Elana for the rigors of AD training. “It was really challenging, but I loved it,” she recalled.

After six months at GEICO, hoping to fast-track her career in AD management, Elana applied to GEICO’s Management Development Program (MDP) and was accepted. She was promoted to supervisor 14 months from her start date. Elana currently works as an AD supervisor in Northern Virginia (Alexandria). Julia is now a Corporate MDP and Supervisor Prep Program coordinator working in Virginia Beach (her hometown).

Great support for women in GEICO AD

“I get excited talking to women who are applying for AD,” said Julia, who is still involved in AD hiring. “The skills that I feel come naturally to a lot of women are what I look for when I’m hiring for AD. You have to love people and know how to manage your time. With the challenge comes the sweetest sense of satisfaction.”

Watching GEICO AD careerists like Tatiana Royster (drive-in claims manager), Alison Johnson (Elana’s manager, recently promoted) and Richmond AD supervisor Candi Jett had a huge impact on Julia. “All of them have a natural tendency to care for people,” said Julia. “They have quiet competence and they are willing to stand their ground when challenged. They all have that feistiness, that spark, and they’ve earned respect for what they do.”

Elana’s greatest GEICO AD inspiration is, of course, her sister Julia, but her former supervisor, Lawrence Gibbons, also made a huge impact on Elana. “When I was an adjuster, he always proved to me that I know more than I think I know,” Elana explained. “He motivated me and explained things effortlessly when he was my supervisor, and still does today as my mentor.”

from GEICO Blog


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