Meet Dhara Patel, ACM’s president, in the spotlight for National Women’s Month
In celebration of March’s National Women’s Month, we’re spotlighting ACM’s insurance leader: Dhara Patel, president of ACM and also CEO of Insurance Claims Adjusters (ICA).
Patel joined ACM in 2001 as a temporary employee and rose through the ranks to lead the organization in 2018. Along the way she has won ACM Manager of the Year awards and an Excellence in Leadership Award; Under her leadership, ACM has won Services Office of the Year two times. We spoke with her recently about her career path and what she’s learned along the way.
How did you choose your career path? Did you always intend to enter the insurance field?
I had legal background which translated well into the claims insurance arena, as we handle litigation and legal issues daily. I also have a BS in Accounting, which helps greatly in leading two profit centers. But no, I had no intention of entering the insurance field. It happened accidentally when I was hired a temporary employee in April 2001 to help review legal claims files. Then I was hired full-time as a commercial liability adjuster.
What do you do differently from your peers in the same profession?
Embracing change and incorporating technology makes us different at ACM and gives us an edge over our competitors. (Learn more about ACM’s innovative claims platform and other technology advances here.)
What personal tips and shortcuts have made your job easier?
Learning to work smarter, not harder. And I encourage my team to do the same. Some examples of working “smart” are utilizing all the technology ACM offers to its fullest and paring down meeting times.
What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?
Performance management is the toughest part of the job. We believe in giving people multiple chances to meet or exceed performance standards. But when they don’t and we have to separate, I remind myself that I am protecting the rest of the team and our service reputation.
What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?
I truly enjoy working with our clients and implementing customized solutions for them. It’s very fulfilling to establish great relationships with our clients that turn working together into long-term partnerships.
What roadblocks did you encounter along the way due to the fact that you’re a woman? And how did you deal with them?
Being a working mom can be tough, as you’re likely the one that needs to leave in the middle of the day if your child is sick or has some type of emergency. So it’s important to find the right workplace that supports these normal life challenges and encourages employees to have a work-life balance.
What advice would you give to women aspiring to join your profession, or advice to newbies in the field?
I would encourage women entering the field to explore all areas of operations, not just what their job entails. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn about every aspect of the company, not just what they are involved with.
Who’s your favorite female role model and why?
My close friends. They are all working moms and are, at the same time, highly successful and productive in both their personal and work lives. I have a high amount of respect for all working moms and what they do to run a successful career yet be there for their families.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I lived in over 20 different cities when I was growing up and it really made me be able to relate to all kinds of people, establish a connection easily with new people I meet and overall, just flexible and nimble.