Patra Employee Profile of Tonya Dowell

February 01 2017

How long have you worked at Patra and how did you come to join the company?

“It will be 3 years in May. I found out about Patra the same way I discovered the insurance industry – I was encouraged by my colleague, Lise Blackwood. I started out at a small agency in Coos Bay, Oregon because she thought I would be a good fit. At my interview, the managers were concerned about my lack of experience but I told them I knew I could do the job if they’d give me the opportunity. Within 9 months I was the commercial lines account manager.

“I’d say that my experience at Patra has been similar because I’ve been given an opportunity to use my experience in a different role within the industry and it’s been a good fit for both Patra and me.”

Tonya Dowell, Patra Client Consultant

How has your role changed throughout your tenure at Patra?

“I started as a client consultant and was promoted to lead client consultant in September, 2016. Initially, I was client-facing and working to implement services and manage existing business. In that role, I stepped up to help train new client consultants, which led to becoming a team lead.

“Now, I supervise a group of client consultants and an associate client consultant. I’ve helped my group with resolving client concerns and going forward, I hope to help them achieve their personal career goals while meeting our departmental goals.”

Can you describe your role as a client consultant?

“When I explain my job to clients and friends, I tell them I’m the relationship holder for both the client and India. My job is to coordinate what the client wants, set expectations and train India to meet the servicing goals.” 

Can you tell me about your clients and how they choose the services they use?

“I have 10 clients and each of them are unique. Some come prepared with a vision of a couple of services that will provide time savings for their staff. Others start with one service to gain confidence and then add on from there.

“As far as the first service a client chooses, it depends on the particular area in which relief will free up their staff for more client-facing work. I provide them with our services list and have a discussion. It makes each person think, ‘How can Patra help my department?’ Then we make a plan of attack and take one service implementation at a time.

 “As time goes on, I’ll give reminders and make recommendations based on their feedback. If the client tells me it’s been a rough week because they lost three people, I can let them know about relevant services we offer and discuss a timeline. Other times, clients will approach me and say, ‘We’re thinking about this service; is it something you can do?’ Then we have the conversation and figure out how Patra can best meet their need.”

Do you think your experience on the retail side has helped you as a client consultant at Patra?

“Yes. At first, I felt like I was in a different universe, but once I grasped how our services work it reminded me of my day-to-day as an AM. There are many times I’m able to relate to a client’s workload or process concern because I’ve been in their shoes. I know they appreciate my experience when I share a memory.”

Do you miss being more heavily involved with the actual insurance servicing aspect of the industry?

“I really like what I’m doing now; it’s the challenge that I wanted. I have the opportunity to interact with my clients more than I could when I was an account manager. I am involved in helping agencies, from account managers to CEOs, achieve their agency goals. It’s very exciting to learn how to interact with different levels at each agency and understand what they want.”

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

“Working at Patra has given me so many rewards. I really enjoy working with my colleagues in India and learning about their culture and about them, individually.  I appreciate the challenges that help in my career development. Patra’s work/life balance is personally rewarding and helps me succeed at my job.”

What has been the most challenging thing about your job?

“Some of the organizational aspects have been hard for me. I’m a very rules-oriented person. My agency before I joined Patra was very structured. For 7½ years I worked in an environment where everything was done a certain way and we didn’t really deviate from those processes. Getting accustomed to setting my own rules was probably the biggest challenge, but the opportunity to bring my creativity and personality into the job has made it work well.”

Do you have any specialties?

“I’m really good at training. I’ve done a lot of training at the agencies I’ve worked for and I’ve had management experience, as well. I have a good rapport with people and a knack for explaining things.

“I actually get a lot of messages from the India team thanking me for being thorough and taking the time to review things with them. As a result, the services we implement for my clients get up and running pretty smoothly. There are speedbumps here and there, but I think my attention to detail helps when I’m training the teams. I do the same thing when I’m training new members of our onshore staff.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I like to spend time with my family. As a family, we enjoy movies, BBQs and spending time at the river or beach. This year we are looking to traveling more. 

“My personal hobbies include running, gardening and playing softball or soccer. My goal this year is to run a half and/or full marathon.”