Noah chooses insurance profession as portal to American Dream

Noah chooses insurance profession as portal to American Dream | Insurance Business America

“I’m competing…with the big boys and I decided that I really like it”

Insurance News

Mark Schoeff Jr.

Patience Noah (pictured) chose to pursue her American Dream through the insurance industry.

Noah arrived with her family from Liberia in 2003 when she was 14. Fleeing a civil war in their home country, they settled in Framingham, Mass., about 20 minutes outside of Boston.

Even as a teenager, she knew she wanted to own a business one day. She just didn’t know in which profession. She attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and earned a degree in marketing.

Near the end of her time in college, a mentor suggested that she explore a career in insurance. Noah followed the advice, did some research and found her first job in insurance sales. She has been working her way up in the industry ever since.

Insurance initially intrigued Noah because “it is an industry that many people in my community are not exposed to,” she said in an interview with Insurance Business America.

After a couple years, she liked what she was seeing in the market. 

“There’s quite a bit of opportunity in the insurance world,” Noah said.

‘Competing…with the big boys’

Her start in insurance was not glamorous. She made cold calls all day at the first firm where she worked. Within six months, she was a top performer.

“I’m competing, I guess, with the big boys and I decided that I really like it,” she said.

The experience stoked embers from her time as a track athlete in college and a basketball player in high school.

“I like the competitiveness of it,” Noah said. “That was one of the things that stood out to me.”

She moved to Connecticut and worked for carriers. Then she joined Willis Towers Watson for a little more than two years in Boston. Over the course of her early career, she worked as a customer service representative, account manager and sales executive. Her last position as a marketing representative was with Travelers.

Going independent

Although she succeeded at sales, she still wanted to run her own shop. She founded Patience Noah Insurance in her hometown of Framingham in 2019, starting as a captive agent.

She was only a captive agent for a few months before going independent. It’s a model she relishes, as she works with individuals, families and businesses on a range of insurance needs.

“There’s just so much you can do with it,” Noah said. “I can choose to grow as much as I want… build a strong sales team and establish strong relationships with carriers.”

One of her ongoing challenges is to “demystify the industry,” Noah said. There are misconceptions about being ripped off on auto insurance and visions of door-to-door sales that don’t align with reality.

“I love the aspect of educating people,” Noah said. “This industry is a lot deeper and a lot broader than anyone can imagine.”

Convincing her mother

One of the first people she had to educate about insurance was her mother, who came to the United States for political asylum to escape Liberia’s civil war. She then applied to have her children – Patience and her brother – join her.

Like many immigrant parents, Noah’s mother was convinced that her daughter should become a lawyer or go into healthcare.

“I did have that lecture from my mom: ‘If you want to succeed in America, go and do nursing,’” Noah said. “It wasn’t my path. If I want to be as rich as I want to be, I can do it in the insurance industry.”

Overcoming self-doubt, promoting diversity

As an immigrant and woman of color, Noah is advancing in a profession dominated by White males. She had to overcome self-doubt along the way.

“When I first started…the limiting mindset that I had of myself is, oh, you’re female [or] you’re Black, you won’t succeed,” she said. “I have to get over those voices in my head and come into this space and show up as a professional, not show up as a woman, not show up as Black, but show up as a professional. Once I [stopped] talking myself out of opportunities, the rest of it just came easy.”

The insurance field is making gains in terms of diversity, Noah said. But there is still work to do. She continues to see only a handful of people who look like her at industry events.

“We still need more women out in the field,” Noah said. “We still need more women out in sales positions. We still need agency owners to invest in their young women account managers.”

She’s attempting to help.

“One of the things I’m trying to do is see how I can hire people in my industry, not just Black people, but young women that have the capacity to do sales,’ Noah said. “How can I invest in young women who are looking to work for my agency, nurture them?”

The start of their careers may be difficult, but they can find a path as rewarding as hers.

“Yes, it is rough waters,” Noah said. “But, eventually, it gets easier. You start to figure out your niche. You start to figure out what’s best for you.”

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