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Embracing People Skills Propels Her Career

By Linda Barrett

November 17, 2023

Azucena Flores
Azucena Flores

Is expertise and background in data required for a successful career in risk management and insurance (RMI)? Ask Azucena Flores (RMI MBA ’17) that question and she will smile while giving a resounding “no!”

Knowing that she wanted to attend graduate school someday, Azucena served a financial reporting position at Merrill Lynch when a mentor introduced the idea of a future in insurance. Learning more about the industry was so interesting that she decided to become a workers’ compensation underwriter. Hooked on insurance, Azucena joined a pre-MBA program to research RMI campuses, hone application skills, and focus on networking.

Soft skills are second nature to Azucena, and that makes networking also second nature. She learned about Wisconsin’s RMI MBA program through a friend of a friend. She recalls, “The personalized help with school and finding a job, the small program, and the program’s huge network made my decision for me. It was a value proposition that I could not pass up.”

Further, Azucena’s comfortableness with building relationships quickly led to finding an internship and her first post MBA career position in a rotational leadership program with Allstate; both opportunities resulted from approaching booths at conferences and inquiring about openings. Faculty in the MBA program encouraged her relationship-building skills and instilled self-pride with her people talents. The faculty involvement was authentic and continuous. “The very strong support system I experienced during my MBA gave me a sense of belonging and home,” she reflected. Azucena slowly internalized those soft skills are as important as hard skills.

Azucena intentionally carries that same genuine support and concern that she received from life-changing faculty to her clients at Amazon, where she is a Senior Business Coach for Delivery Service Partners. She leverages her people skills in creating deep relationships; developing partner businesses; educating about loss prevention, safety, and claim management; and influencing business strategy. She stated, “Most of my business conversations involve insurance, and the MBA program fully prepared me for my trajectory. At the same time, I truly want to know how I can help my clients succeed and develop, so that I can help them move forward in the best way possible. Making an impact brings me much joy.” 

Azucena’s story demonstrates that students who have strong communication skills flourish in the RMI space