By Mike Ross
I played Division I tennis at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis from 1999-2003. Playing college tennis has impacted my life in many ways, and in particular, my professional life. I am currently the President at Brown & Brown of Massachusetts, LLC, an office of Brown & Brown Insurance, one of the top insurance brokers in the world.
I started with Brown & Brown right after graduating from college close to 16 years ago and immediately found it to be a great fit for my competitive drive and personality. I began my career on the internal audit team, learned the business and became a Producer. After two years of gathering lots of perspective and knowledge from being on the Producer side of the business, I was promoted to lead offices in Ohio, New Hampshire, and now Massachusetts. As President, I lead the Employee Benefits, Property & Casualty, and Personal Lines businesses, continue to manage and support my own clients, and lead the efforts to attract and mentor new talent.
So many new graduates these days move quickly from one job and company to the next as a way to grow and find a better fit for their career goals. I would argue this is not the best way to grow your career. Rather, you need to find a company like Brown & Brown, one that is aggressive and competes like top athletes. Working in this type of team environment allows you to rise and fall based on your own ability and talent. Your team is there for you and you for it, but when all is said and done, you own your successes as well as your failures.
It takes many things to be great at a sport: practice, coaching, sheer determination, good communication skills, a strong work ethic and mental toughness. It’s the same in the insurance business. We plan our work and work our plan, taking on any challenges the plan may present and tenaciously overcoming the problems we encounter along the way.
Our chairman, Hyatt Brown, sums it up perfectly with the following quote, “The best way is almost always the most difficult way.” This quote holds true for me each day professionally. It also holds true for my days playing college tennis. As a tennis player, you learn to develop toughness, resilience and an attitude that allows you to play through the pain. It also challenges you to do what it takes to get the job done. You know that as hard as it is at the moment, it’s the only choice if you want to win.
In both sports and business, there are ups and downs. Having the skills I acquired playing college tennis prepared me to work well under pressure and fight hard through the challenges just as a competitor would facing an opponent on the court.
It’s harder to find time to play tennis these days, but I do try to get in as many opportunities as possible. As a dad of a two-year-old, I’m looking forward to teaching and passing along the fun of the game and the valuable lessons to be learned playing tennis.
– Mike Ross, IUPUI Men’s Tennis ’03