When asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” most of us would not ponder between actress or math teacher, but those were the directions Emily Henderson, VP of Systematized Risk at Velocity Risk Underwriters, LLC, had in front of her as she began her college career at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Her parents helped narrow the decision when she learned they would not help fund her dreams of only following in the footsteps of Hollywood legends. Growing up with various family members who spent their careers in insurance, Emily wisely chose actuarial science as her major and minored in economics. She enjoyed drama as an extracurricular activity throughout her college career and knows that her parents’ guidance was well founded.
During her last two years of college, Emily took advantage of an internship program at a nearby insurance company. There were several intern programs to choose from, including actuary, but the product and pricing program seemed more appealing, and Emily turned it into a career. As an intern, she was offered a full-time position, and after considering other opportunities, decided to accept the position, and stayed with the company for six years.
Emily’s first year out of college was intense. The new-hire program included months of deep learning with tests that could make or break her career. She and other newbies were also required to present a fresh idea to senior leadership. Her group’s “capstone” project was about online quoting for agents in personal lines. Although the concept itself wasn’t new, the group presented on the importance of staying ahead of the curve. The presentation was as much about delivery to large groups as it was about the idea itself. Emily continued to grow and move up the corporate ladder with set goals in mind.
When Emily received a call from a recruiter, she listened, but didn’t expect a small startup in Nashville would provide the stability, growth opportunities and culture that she enjoyed at her current company. When Velocity asked her to fly down for a second round of interviews, she almost cancelled at the last minute because her dog had a medical emergency the morning of the flight. After meeting the team in person and a separate call from the CEO, she was convinced that it was the right time to move south. It didn’t hurt that she was tired of the northeast winters and that most of her family lived in or closer to Tennessee.
Emily joined Velocity as a Sr. Product Manager in May 2017 with the task of launching Velocity’s Personal Lines product in New York. Thanks to numerous opportunities in her first year, she was given additional responsibilities and was promoted to Vice President in under a year. Part of her early learning was, in part, thanks to an active hurricane season in 2017. Everyone helped the claims team manage customer calls, pull policy documents, and analyze data to ensure that claims were handled efficiently, and customers were able to restore their lives and homes as quickly as possible. Emily remembers her first customer call; water was coming into the house. Emily wasn’t sure what to say, but quickly learned how to provide calm advice and help get the claim process started.
Carolyn Parker, Chief Underwriting Officer of Large Commercial, was an early mentor of Emily. “I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with Emily and enjoy every interaction I have with her. She is always prepared, always willing to help, and always maintains a positive attitude. Emily is a true team player, and I have learned so much from her through our collaborations between business units. She never looks for the spotlight for herself, but instead is always looking to give someone else the credit and recognition.”
Emily considers herself a lifetime learner, meaning she loves to educate herself and take on new roles to widen her responsibilities. In fact, her concerns about growth opportunities at Velocity were completely alleviated when she realized how wide the opportunities are. At most large companies, including her beloved former employer, the ladder going up was relatively narrow. Most team members started on one path and stayed the course. At Velocity you are encouraged to stretch yourself not only within your role, but outside your department. In fact, Emily would consider it a true success if one day she worked for someone she helped teach and grow.
Product Analyst, Milledge Armes, has witnessed Emily’s teaching spirit from day one at Velocity. “When I first met Emily, I could tell that she was a difference maker and embodies what an employee at VRU should strive to be. She brings her A-game each day and is constantly thinking of new processes to improve efficiency. Despite her busy schedule, she always makes herself available to answer questions and does so with impeccable speed.”
Emily’s current role as Vice President of Systematized Risk means working alongside the Personal Lines and Small Business teams to develop strategies on how to best achieve the production, portfolio, and other financial targets for the business units and contribute to the overall success of the company.
When Emily isn’t busy solving complex math equations for Velocity, she loves to exercise, especially when she can include her dog on long hikes. Emily comes from a big family, including three sisters and four brothers, almost all in the south.