This adviser is preparing the next generation

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You would expect a professional with more than 32 years of experience in the employee benefits arena to slow down and enjoy the ride. Suzy K. Johnson, president and owner of Employee Benefit Advisors of the Carolinas in Charlotte, isn’t wired that way. She continues to bring in new business as she grows her firm.

Despite all her success, Johnson still spends a major portion of her time mentoring the next generation of leaders in her field and that is one of the reasons she was named a 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising by EBA.

To select this year’s honorees, EBA editors asked readers to submit the names of thought leaders who are making their mark on the benefit business through their unique approaches to client relations, benefits technology and/or mentoring other women. From the dozens of submissions received, the editors chose 30 benefit advisers to recognize for their outstanding achievements.

Johnson’s success is unquestionable. She serves on the leadership board of the National Association of Health Underwriters’ Leading Producers Round Table, which includes producers earning $250,000 year or more as well as agencies with more than $1.5 million in revenue. She was named a 50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte, N.C, in 2016 by The Mecklenburg Times, as well as Women Business of the Year finalist by the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Johnson knows that for her firm to continue its legacy, she needs to hire — and mentor — the right people. “I have been compelled for years to mentor smart, positive, high-energy learners and doers who can continue our agency’s theme of bringing the best solutions to our clients and providing expert guidance,” Johnson says. “We must stay in the know about new technologies and developments in our space so we can lead our clients.”

Committed to remaining a private firm, Johnson has crafted a transition plan with people she knows and trusts.

Two of those younger producers are Rachel Miner, an employee benefits strategist at Johnson’s firm and Chris Ross, vice president of client service and retention.

Miner joined Employee Benefit Advisors of the Carolinas because of Johnson. “Her reputation preceded her when I was initially looking to work for her as being somewhat difficult to work for,” Miner says. “I had heard she demands a lot out of her team. That didn't scare me. In fact, it made me want to work for her.”

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“I knew she would push me to be the absolute best consultant that I can be, always challenging me to find new and innovative solutions to help our clients,” she adds. “She has taught me a lot about the power of believing in yourself and bravery. I'm really lucky to have Suzy as a mentor and friend."

For Johnson, she enjoys the energy that comes with being around young thinkers because, “positioning ourselves and our brand as thought leaders using marketing tools and social media is something we are committed to,” she says.

All three constantly compare their social selling index scores in a “fun game of one-upmanship,” Johnson adds.

Additionally, all three brokers “share a passion and commitment to make a difference for our clients by helping them control the increasing costs of employee health and welfare benefits so they can provide great programs to attract and retain the best employees,” she says. “My work is much more fun when I mentor others around me and stay open to all they can teach me.”

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