IWD: Celebrating our women branch managers

This International Women’s Day coincides with Careers Week! So we decided to shine a light on our incredible female branch managers – who may inspire others to follow in their footsteps.

International Womens Day 2023

Did you know that the first International Women’s Day gathering started in 1911? Yes, IWD is back and we are joining over a million others in celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. But what does that mean?

Equality means treating people equally. Equity means giving people what they need to be successful in their own right, which doesn’t mean giving everyone the same thing assuming it will make them equal.

With that in mind, we’re offering centre stage to our wonderful, female branch managers. We asked Amanda Vallance, Branch Manager of Newton Abbot, Katherine Letten, Assistant Branch Manager of Swindon, Charmaine Lester, Branch Manager of Worthing, and Jennifer Clements, Branch Manager of Alton Private Clients, about their role and progression, with some advice for women with similar ambitions.

Meet Amanda Vallance, Branch Manager at Howden Newton Abbot

“Since joining A-Plan in 2016, I have been a Sales Manager, Assistant Branch Manager and now Branch Manager. I have always been driven to progress within Howden and work more closely with people – I love the variety of my role!

Every day is different: I get to spend time with my team, training and discussing their future careers. I get to spend time with our clients, building relationships and spreading the passion that I have for the company.

“I also love our mission as a company and had always wanted to be a part of developing this with clients and colleagues – it’s exciting to see where we are going!

“I would recommend a career with Howden to anyone, for so many reasons. The industry is vast and rewarding. Howden is a great place to work – I have experienced progression and support regularly; it has been so beneficial to me. Plus, it’s a really fun place to be! When you have a great team and all work together for the same reasons it gives you great satisfaction.  I am excited to see where I can go in the future!”

Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn here.

Meet Charmaine Lester, Branch Manager of Howden Worthing

“My career at A-Plan started in January 2019 – I joined A-Plan from an estate agency background, with no experience within the insurance industry. But when interviewing for my initial position as a consultant, I was told that career progression was something that Howden could offer – which was great to know as I had professional ambitions to become a manager. 

“I gradually worked my way around different areas of the business (new, business, renewals, and service). Doing so meant that, when a management position became available, I had a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.

“In January 2022, I became the Branch Manager of Worthing – after 3 short years I achieved the career progression I’d been working towards.  This goes to show that career progression is possible within Howden and in an achievable amount of time. You just have to put yourself out there and build your skillset!

“As an individual I have always been passionate about helping and developing people and I always wanted a career which permitted me to do this. Now, as a manager, I can help my team develop into great insurance consultants, whilst still helping clients with their insurance needs, which is really rewarding.

“Working in an Howden branch environment is great. Insurance not only provides you with a stable career, as it’s an industry that will always be around. It’s also ever-changing, so no two days are the same – which allows you to be fully engaged with the role. Also being a high street broker, you can be more involved in your local community and build rapport with local clientele – which is a great alternative to trading solely over the phone.”

Connect with Charmaine on LinkedIn here.

Meet Katherine Letten, Assistant Branch Manager at Howden Swindon

“I started my career in Howden in late 2016 and progressed from Insurance Consultant to Assistant Branch Manager in 2020 at the Carterton branch.

“I was wholeheartedly supported and given fantastic development opportunities, so in March 2022 I took the plunge to become Assistant Branch Manager at the much larger branch in Swindon, where I am thoroughly enjoying my time!

“My role is very diverse and varied, which is what I love the most. From networking with local businesses to recruiting for new members of the team, plus visits to head office and being included in features for International Women’s Day – the progression and opportunities that Howden have to offer are endless, particularly for up-and-coming ladies!

“I have learnt an awful lot over the last 12 months, not only about the role, but also about myself – and I’m very proud of how far I’ve come. With ongoing personal development alongside my supportive branch manager, I hope to continue learning and pursuing my professional development within Howden.  

“My advice would be to take yourself out of your comfort zone and always be prepared to spot opportunities to grow. There will never be ‘the right time’ so why not give it a go, it is better to try and fail than never to try at all.”

Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn here.

Meet Jennifer Clements, Branch Manager of Alton Private Clients

“I was lucky enough to enter into the world of Private Clients 23 years ago. Following the retirement of the branch manager and years of hard work, I was promoted to take on the task of running the Alton Private Client team and branch. 

We have since trebled in size and, not only do I have an amazing team that I am very proud of, but also an exciting dynamic for the team to grow and progress in.  

“Although progression did take a while for me, this was mainly because I really wanted to stay in the Private Client part of the business, which limited my options slightly.  But, it allowed me to gain the specialist training, experience and skill sets for me to succeed in my role.  This is a role that will challenge you on a regular basis and ensure that your day is never the same.

I hit the ground running but, looking back, it was all great experience for me. And I had the time to grow into the manager I wanted to be.  I think things have moved on so much since I entered the insurance world – it was always so much harder being a female in this industry, but I have enjoyed the challenge it set me, which made me work even harder to gain progression.  Times have changed and I am now surrounded by female managers, and I do hope to see more join us in the future.

My advice is to surround yourself with as many people as you can that you admire.  Ask questions and learn from their experiences and challenges.  Push yourself to work outside of your comfort zone! I have never possessed natural confidence, but once you work at it, it comes, and every step becomes just that little bit easier.  Being patient, growing in confidence, staying driven, and accruing the right skill sets makes the journey a much more enjoyable one.”

Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn here.

Celebrating Howden women

Last year’s theme was #BreakTheBias, and we focused on women in the motor scene (our ‘petrolheads’). You can read the original article here.

International Women's Day - Petrolheads - A-Plan Insurance
International Women’s Day 2022 – Howden Insurance

Find out more about International Women’s Day and this year’s theme via the official website.

Did you know that we are also celebrating Careers Week?

We would like to encourage more women to consider a career with Howden – not only do we offer progression and a friendly, supportive environment to work in, but also have a host of employee benefits on offer, including healthcare and Perkbox to keep you on our team for as long as we can! We recruit for branches up and down the country in addition to head office support.

If you, or a woman you know, could be interested in a career with Howden, take a look at our job board and, if you see something you like, just apply!