Learn a little bit about Sara Kooij, an Administrative Assistant at Beacon Hill Associates, Inc.
Tell us about your family, interests, hobbies, etc.
I married my high school sweetheart last year in Shenandoah National Park. My husband and I are avid hikers and love road trips and impromptu adventures. We have a goal to visit every national park in America and together have already crossed 13 off the list. Although we have no children yet, we do have a schnoodle rescue who currently has a monopoly on our love and affection.
What is your professional background and how it has led you to working in environmental insurance?
I received my degree from James Madison University in 2010 in Media Arts and Design and French. My administrative career commenced soon after as a digital video intern for a production studio in Virginia Beach. I also have worked as an administrative assistant in the tax resolution industry, and an office manager of a steadily growing security franchise. My professional experience has given me a strong understanding of the qualities I desire in a company and the type of work environment that best suits my skills. Beacon Hill’s size as well as its team component fit very nicely into the category I’ve established. Moreover, as someone who values nature and the outdoors, I appreciate working in this particular industry as it compels me to stay current on environmental news and gives me access to the knowledge of highly informed professionals.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
It never hurts to try to empathize with those you interact with regularly. If you take the time to understand what goes into someone else’s day, you’ll be more able to cater to their needs and develop professional relationships. On a smaller level, just understanding and appreciating the responsibilities of your colleagues allows you to help them be more efficient in their positions, and in turn will make you a more valuable team player.
If you had to choose one word to describe the most important motivator to be a leader in your career, what would it be and why? What are you doing specifically at Beacon Hill to help you achieve this?
Respect. In my six years of administrative experience, it’s become apparent to me that administrative work is rarely acknowledged. By definition, admins are helpers, paper-pushers, and memo-takers whose workloads are often overlooked or forgotten. But as we take on more supportive responsibilities and roles, we become indispensable as the foundation of any company. At Beacon Hill, I have taken on training roles, added additional duties to my standard task list, and spent much time absorbing pertinent information so our agents and my colleagues will respect me as a competent member of the industry.