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An interview with Joyce Usher-Mesiano, recipient of the IB Canada Elite Women 2023 award

An interview with Joyce Usher-Mesiano, recipient of the IB Canada Elite Women 2023 award

Joyce Usher-Mesiano has inspired many with her achievements and dedication to her career. With over 30 years of experience, Joyce has become an expert in her field and a role model for women looking to break into the insurance industry. Currently serving as the Vice President of Business Development, Eastern Canada at Westland MyGroup, Joyce’s career trajectory is nothing short of inspiring.

Starting out as a commercial underwriter, Joyce worked hard and gained valuable expertise and a deep understanding of the industry’s workings. With this knowledge, she co-founded National Brokers Insurance Services Inc. in 1998, a privately held brokerage headquartered in Vaughan, Ontario, where she served as President alongside two female business partners. Her commitment to excellence and strong work ethic have earned her numerous accolades throughout her career, including recently being named one of Insurance Business Canada Elite Women 2023.

Insurance Business Canada recognizes 2023’s Elite Women as leaders, fostering meaningful change in the industry and setting an example for other aspiring female insurance leaders. Their professional accomplishments, industry contributions and eagerness to push against the status quo impressed an esteemed panel of judges, who ultimately selected 55 remarkable award recipients across Canada.

We had the opportunity sit down with Joyce and ask her a few questions about her greatest accomplishments, what motivated her to become a trail blazer in the insurance industry and what advice she has for young women looking to start out their career.

What has motivated you to become a trail blazer for women in the industry?

Strong women were instrumental in leading the way for me. I learned it is imperative to have diversity in leadership, and it was abundantly clear that equality and inclusion help everyone. I wanted to be a leader that championed positive change.  I wanted to cultivate a strong sense of engagement because the results bring empowerment, accountability and forges deeper connections. 

While I had my advocates– I found it immensely rewarding to do the same for the next woman and so on.   Helping to elevate other women’s profiles and knowledge brought so many positive outcomes, and the cascading standards became so clearly defined. Empowered Women – Empower Women!

What are the accomplishments/milestones that you are most proud of so far in your career?

First, I will say to be a working mom.  For the first years of my son’s life – I was so fortunate to have him in the office, and that bond of having him there was incredibly important to me.  Now, with pride, I watch him grow with his own accomplishments as he starts his own career.

Next, I would say when we opened the doors to our brokerage. National Brokers Insurance was 100% women-owned and we really started from humble beginnings. Starting any business comes with challenges, including regulatory requirements, dealing with bureaucracy, and finding the balance between working long hours while being mothers to young children. Yet, there was a great deal of reward from that foundation. We built it, we grew it, and we are proud of our achievements.

Today, Westland’s culture is fully engaged and empowered co-workers are encouraged to pursue personal development to serve our clients better, and themselves and achieve the company’s full potential.  That said, we found the right partner in Westland Insurance, and our legacy continues.

What would be your advice to women looking to accelerate their career in the insurance industry?

I have been very fortunate to have incredible leaders throughout my career.  Those leaders shared their stories and viewpoints on how to succeed in this industry. One act of kindness and support led to a positive influence (great advice, I still follow today) 

1. Define your expectations

2. Continue your education

3. Pursue personal development

4. Build your network

This means strengthening your voice, finding a mentor who will advocate for you, in turn, give back by becoming a mentor (it’s very rewarding and educational).  Ask for assistance, be Brave and bold and accept Challenges. This will be your energetic power! Step up – when employees succeed, the company succeeds. When the company succeeds, employees thrive and flourish.

In addition to her inspirational career, Joyce has had a tremendous impact on her community. As a co-founder of the BEfund (The Butterfly Effect Fund), she works to create a small movement that can have a profound effect on the care and research of lung cancer. Joyce has also served as an honorary chair of Conquer Cancer Toronto for eight years and continues to raise funds and advocate for cancer patients and their families. Joyce volunteers to connect Canadians struck with diseases or conditions that may benefit from placement of international trials, second medical opinions and assistance with referrals for advanced medical devices.

Furthermore, Joyce has fiercely supported the mentoring of young minds in the insurance industry, entrepreneurship, and university students. She serves as a judge for the Enactus Awards, shares her valuable insights and experiences with women’s groups, and is a sought-after speaker and moderator on panels and podcasts.

With her vast experience and unwavering dedication to her work and community, Joyce is an inspiration to many and a true leader in the insurance industry. We are truly lucky to have her as a part of the #WestlandFamily.

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