Women of Influence: Patricia ZieglerBy Donna Glasgow | August 18 2014 09:00AM
Embracing opportunity in a changing industry
As chief operating officer of Financial Horizons Group, Patricia Ziegler enjoys the challenge of the fast-paced change being experienced in the industry. Among those changes is the wave of consolidation sweeping the managing general agency channel. Financial Horizons has made some major mergers and acquisitions in this market and Ziegler has played a key role in these transactions.Acquiring another MGA requires “a tremendous amount of due diligence prior to the merger and acquisition. That includes IT due diligence and financial and cultural due diligence, so when we’re going into partnership with another MGA, we’re looking for the right fit not only for us but for who we’re buying as well.”
Ziegler has held a life licence since 1999 and also has several other industry recognized designations, in addition to a BA and an MBA. She joined Financial Horizons in 2012. Given her MBA background, she finds it fascinating to be at Financial Horizons on the front lines of M&As.
“It is something that I did study during my Masters. I’d only ever read about them in textbooks…to actually be involved in it and see the due diligence before we sign on the dotted line is…incredibly exciting. We try to leave the companies for the most part as they are, taking the best ideas of the best and integrating them across the country. We’ve had tremendous growth over the last couple of years, and I would say it is because we’re able to take any of the wonderful things of any of the companies we’ve purchased and integrate them right across the country to take us from good to great.”
Early in her career, Ziegler worked as a career agent at Canada Life and was promoted to a management role and then wholesaling. She also worked for another MGA and then left that organization to join Sun Life Financial for eight years. “During that time I had five leadership roles and two maternity leaves. I moved around a lot… They thought my skills were transferable, and had me leading different areas that frequently I had zero knowledge of. Often I was able to go in and make a difference. That was incredibly rewarding for me.”
Asked what challenges she has faced in her career, Ziegler says, “First and foremost being a woman in a male-dominated industry and maybe even I’ll add in there, being a young woman in a male-dominated industry. I think I often had to go above and beyond to prove my knowledge and the value that I brought to whatever role I was in. I did that by remaining focused and being a sponge for knowledge and keeping my goal in sight and continuing to strive for more.”
A role model for career women, Ziegler has written a book on what she has learned and observed. The book, to be launched this fall, is entitled The Tingle Effect: Perspectives on Work and Life. She is donating proceeds from the book to charity.
Advice for young women
In her book, Ziegler underlines the importance of confidence. “In a very male dominated industry I’ve just tried to remain confident and proud of being a woman.” She also speaks of the benefits of volunteering whether inside or outside of the industry and the value of mentorship.
“Get a mentor, or a few mentors. That’s what I’ve always had in my life – Some have stayed with me and some have come and gone, a mix of men and women, old and young.” Ziegler advises to take the time to listen to mentors and ask questions. “I’m constantly asking questions like, ‘How did you get to where you are today? What were some of the obstacles, challenges? How did you overcome them?’”
Another piece of advice Ziegler offers is to use rejection as a learning opportunity. “I didn’t always get the job I was applying for and sometimes I had to hear ‘no’. That’s okay, but I’ve always been sure to ask why I didn’t get the job. Then I would learn from those things and apply them. If someone said I didn’t have enough experience in X and that’s why I didn’t get the job, I made sure I went out and got that experience.”
Aside from her career, there is much more to Patricia Ziegler. She is highly involved in the industry, particularly through her work as president of the Advocis Golden Triangle Chapter. John Hamilton, president and CEO of Financial Horizons Group, lauded Ziegler’s success in this role. “As the current president of the local chapter of Advocis, she has raised the profile of the association to heights not seen since the ‘90s.”
Outside of the industry, Ziegler’s community involvement includes her role as a Eucharistic Minister with her Catholic parish. She gives Communion at Mass and visits local hospitals to give Communion to people who are terminally ill. Providing this service has an ongoing and profound impact on Ziegler. “It really grounds me and keeps me remembering that your life can be taken from you any day. I don’t like to say the old adage of ‘live your life to the fullest’ but I like to live it and treat everyone like it’s their last day. I try to be in the moment, that’s what I strive to do – to live life with passion.”