THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Former bartender gets introduced to insurance industry by regular customer and later receives national recognition
Like many others in the insurance industry, Alyssa Delaney, director of marketing and communications at the Agency Network Exchange, headquartered in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, didn’t initially plan for a career in the field.
After graduating in 2010 from Rutgers University with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and media studies, Delaney found herself working as a marketing assistant for The Marketing Professionals, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, doing “a little bit of HR, building out their team and marketing their products,” she says.
She also had jobs in the service industry as a bartender and server. “To this day, I still miss bartending and being a server; I like being busy and multitasking,” she says. Living in New Jersey, she particularly enjoyed the summer months working at establishments near the beach.
It was during her time working in hospitality that a connection would be made that would eventually lead Delaney to the insurance industry.
“I got into insurance on a whim; I just met the right people at the right time,” Delaney says. “I was working full time as a bartender, and one of my regulars was in the insurance industry. ￼
He’d come in every Thursday for lunch, and we talked over many months. One day, he told me his marketing assistant was moving.
“He said, ‘I know this isn’t really in your wheelhouse, but would you want to just come in and interview.’ It was funny because it was a long process. Every week he brought in someone to meet me, as if suddenly he had lunch buddies. But then I came to realize that they were all people who worked at his agency. I went in for an official interview and I started two weeks later.”
Delaney credits her ability to connect, have conversations, and build relationships with people from her hospitality days as contributions to her success when she switched her career path, which began in July 2013 as the marketing assistant for Pavese-McCormick Agency out of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. She also began working part-time with the Agency Network Exchange (ANE). She transitioned to her current role full time in April 2014.
“When I first started with ANE, I still didn’t know much about insurance whatsoever,” she says. “I had gone to licensing school, got my producer license, and I was kind of floating around getting my feet wet.”
A big help when she first started at ANE came from Jocelyn Rineer, who “took me under her wing and showed me the ropes,” Delaney says. “She has so many connections; she knows everyone in the insurance industry.”
Rineer would bring Delaney along with her on the road, where she could experience first-hand how to conduct herself in front of agents and carriers. “I picked up so many tips on how to present myself and communicate with them, because this was really my first time being in a professional setting,” she says. “Jocelyn was also a wealth of knowledge. Anytime I have a question, I know I can still go to her, and she will have an answer for me within a couple of minutes.”
Delaney also found additional tutorage when she discovered the Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey.
PIA award winner
The CEO at her agency job was involved with the PIA and suggested that she join their Young Insurance Professionals group. “He said it might be a good way to not only learn more about the insurance industry, but to meet other people especially in my age group,” she says. “I joined the New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals (NJYIP) in 2017. I went to a couple of board meetings, and I really liked how everyone seemed very tight knit, and everyone knew what they were talking about.
“The people I’ve met [through the PIA] are people who will be in my life forever,” she says. “They have taught me so much and have opened my eyes to different avenues, things that I didn’t even know about. I knew when joining that I had a lot to learn, and then I quickly wanted to get more involved.” Delaney became the NJYIP’s treasurer in 2018 and served as vice president in 2019 and president in 2020.
“The people I’ve met [through the PIA] are people who will be in my life forever. They have taught me so much
and have opened my eyes to different avenues, things that I didn’t even know about.”
Director, Marketing and Communications
Agency Network Exchange
Aside from the PIA, Delaney found involvement with other organizations. She’s a member of the National Association of Professional Women, an online networking platform that provides women with resources to support their growth in the business world. She also volunteers annually at the Long Branch office of Family and Children’s Service, based in Monmouth, during the holidays. “We get families the items they need for their children for the holidays, so no one has to struggle during that time,” she says. She’s also involved with the process of getting families “adopted” through the organization.
During her term as NJYIP president, Delaney and her husband discovered that they were expecting their first child, a son who was born in August 2021. Ten months later, she was named the 2022 National Young Insurance Professional (YIP) of the Year by the PIA.
“When they told me about the YIP award, I was like ‘this is insane.’ Not only was I navigating working from home in a pandemic, but I was also a first-time mom,” she recalls. “I’m trying to juggle all these things in the air, and I thought, ‘I guess I’m not doing too bad if I can win an award while being pregnant with twins [she’s due in September] and handling a nine-month-old at home.’ It’s been challenging, but I have a lot of great people around who have helped.
“I’m so thankful, but when I think about it, there’s so much that goes into the YIPs that doesn’t fall on my shoulders. I feel undeserving because it’s really a collective effort. For me to get national recognition, I credit a lot of it to the great people I work with,” she adds. “ANE, the PIA board of New Jersey and the PIA national board, without them I wouldn’t have ever won this award at all. I’m so appreciative of them.”
When she’s not busy with “insurance stuff,” Delaney is busy at home with her family, preparing for the new additions in the fall. “Our family is growing very quickly,” she says. “I also have two rescue dogs, who were my fur babies before my real baby came; I’ve always been a dog person.” She loves going on hikes with her husband and the dogs and traveling. “We’ve been to some amazing places, but my favorite is Costa Rica. If everyone continues working remotely, we might move there. We’ve got some friends there, so maybe eventually one day,” Delaney concludes.