This Women’s History Month, we are profiling a series of National Life leaders to hear their experiences navigating both life and the financial industry as a woman. Check back for more posts throughout the month of March and beyond.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Pam Blalock is the SVP of the Affiliated Distribution Channel and the Executive Sponsor of our field-facing Women’s Inclusion Network. She has spent her entire career in the insurance industry and since joining National Life, she has led the growth of our affiliated channel. Like many women of her generation, she balances her career with caring for her own grown children and her father. Her husband is the former Mayor of Portsmouth, NH, and when she’s not leading people at National Life, you’ll sometimes find her as the hostess in their family restaurant.
Q: What’s your career pathway been like? How did you get to where you are now?
A: I started my career within a management development program at MONY (Mutual of New York). During my time with MONY, I held various internal positions which included leading the management development program that I started out in. I then transitioned to a field facing regional position. After that, I relocated to Boston to join New England Financial (NEF) where I ran field-facing organization for 26 years. During this time, MetLife acquired New England Financial. In my last eight years at NEF, I held a regional position for MetLife based in the greater New England area. In 2012, after my division at MetLife was broken up, I was recruited to a distribution leadership position here at National Life. Ruth Smith hired me!
Q: What do you like most about what you do at National Life?
A: I like being a part of building something special and feeling like I can make an impact here. The culture and collaborative work environment that we have here.
Q: Has the industry landscape changed during your career? If so, what changes have you seen?
A: Margins and financials are much tighter now and there’s so much more data coming in. In my first 20 years working within financial services, I was definitely “going against the grain” by being one of only a few women field leaders in this industry. There are certainly more women in the industry now than before, but it’s still a challenge to recruit more women into this career and the great opportunities this business can provide. There is also need for more women within field leadership roles. I believe a key part of creating change is education and increasing financial literacy in schools for girls.
Q: In honor of women’s history month, is there a woman who has inspired you in your life?
A: There have been several women who have inspired me, and my mom is definitely one of them. She contracted polio when she was only 17, and was forced to drop out of college, even though she had a scholarship. She went to work outside the home when she was in her 40’s and her employer (insurance company) sponsored her to get her degree with night school. She is a true testament of an individual who overcame severe adversity due to her handicap and because of her example, I know I can overcome and accomplish anything.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning their careers?
A: Continue to learn and focus on self-development. Be confident in yourself. If something scares you, lean in. Be an advocate for other women, find yourself a mentor and coach, stand tall and don’t be afraid.
Q: What leadership quality do you most admire and aspire to?
A: The ability to influence others even when you don’t have a direct relationship or authority. This speaks volumes to me about garnering respect.
Q: Do you have a cause or a favorite “Do good” passion?
A: I love working with kids and families that are less privileged – I actually used to work in social services myself! I am also very passionate about financial literacy and education for young women. A pressing concern for me is also the prevalence of the growing opioid crisis in New England.
Q: What attracted you to National Life and what would you tell someone who is considering an opportunity with us?
A: I liked that National Life is a mutually held company. It’s refreshing to be a part of a flat organization, where there isn’t a lot of bureaucracy. I wish I had started my career here. You have an opportunity to be part of something special and build a legacy.
Q: Any other words of wisdom that you’d like to share?
A: Keep your ego in check and stay humble. Humility is very important and perfection can sometimes get in the way of progress. Respect others and challenge yourself with continuous learning. We are all a work in progress regardless of how much experience we have because the business is always changing!