November 10, 2022 | Stephanie Behnke, Senior Solutions Engineer, Hi Marley

Three Lessons and Values that Endured from Army Mechanic to Hi Marley

Cars are my thing. I always loved working on vehicles; I took body shop instead of home economics in high school and was always tinkering with my own car and offering to help others. In my first year of college, I felt rudderless, so building a career doing something I loved seemed like a natural next step. I hopped in my Firebird, drove straight to the recruiting office and joined the Army as a Diesel Mechanic—the first step in an amazing adventure.

The Army gave me several opportunities and experiences that shaped me into who I am today. Here are three life lessons and values that I’ve carried throughout my entire career.

1. Always Stay Open to Opportunities

With my entry into the Military, I possessed a certain level of fearlessness and put worry and trepidation aside. That attitude has stuck with me since enlisting.

When I enlisted, less than ten percent of Active Duty Army Soldiers were female— today, that number is less than 16 percent—but joining a male-dominated field did not intimidate me. I was the only female in my platoon, and my Sergeant had never had a female report to him. It was interesting to be on the bleeding edge of co-ed service. We had to figure out things on the fly, find creative solutions and adapt.

Putting fear aside brought me incredible experiences. For example, I went to school to be a 63 Bravo (Diesel Mechanic) and tied with the only other female in the class for valedictorian. Because we graduated top of the class, we had an incredible opportunity to become wrecker operators. This was a big deal that opened the door to even more new experiences, like taking the wrecker on the Autobahn in Germany. The Autobahn was somewhere I always dreamed of driving as a car enthusiast—albeit I was going 35 miles per hour in a five-ton truck—and putting fear aside enabled me to achieve this goal.

That fearless mindset led me to build a career in insurance. I got out of the Military on a Friday. And on Monday, without knowing anything about the company or industry, I started a new job at Mercury Insurance, which began my 30+ year career in insurance. Since then, I’ve held various roles, including Product Manager, CIO, VP of Claims Innovation and Strategy and more.

Jumping in with both feet and giving my all has become a pattern throughout my life and career. If I face a new problem or challenge, I don’t hesitate. Instead of saying, “I’m not sure I can do this,” I say, “let’s try and see how this works.” I am always excited to dive in, ask questions and find new solutions.

2. Understand Different Perspectives, Try New Ideas

I lived in Southern California my entire life. I met people in service from around the world and found that everyone has radically different experiences that shape them. Going to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training with a group of people from all over the country was the first time I saw first-hand how culturally different we are from state to state. My worldview continued to expand while I was based in Fort Hood, Texas, for Active Duty, then on an international level when I spent three months working with our European allies during a Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER) exercise in Germany and Belgium.

The quote, “each person we meet is our teacher and our student,” has always resonated with me. I believe every person I meet has something to teach me, and hopefully, there’s something I can show them.

The Military taught me to seek to understand different perspectives rather than jump to conclusions or judge too quickly. We can work better together and uncover new ideas if we are curious, ask questions and listen to each other. If everyone approaches challenges or conversations with an open mind and the freedom to share their feelings without judgment, we will achieve better outcomes.

Being open to different ideas is crucial in my role as a Solutions Engineer today. While it’s incredibly easy to fall in love with one path to a resolution, every insurance carrier has unique circumstances, challenges and business goals. It’s important to let go of strong opinions to find the best solution for their specific needs.

3. Look Out for Each Other 

In the Military, we understand that it’s our job to look out for each other. When we bring that philosophy to our roles every day, we’re making the people we work with and the organization we work for our priorities. You can’t go wrong if that’s your focus.

Part of the reason I was drawn to Hi Marley is because we share that philosophy.

Believing that true success is being part of a purpose much bigger than any single individual or company, Hi Marley promotes a culture of openness to learn from anyone, anywhere and encourages everyone to approach conversations with empathy, humility and curiosity. People bring their best selves to work because they feel comfortable asking questions and sharing knowledge. This creates an environment where innovation thrives.

Hi Marley serves as an excellent example of how culture and shared values can drive stronger collaboration and produce outstanding results.

Next Posts

Military Appreciation Month: Startups and the Military

View Now

World Down Syndrome Day, Three Arrows and a Start-Up

View Now

Culturally Informed Listening Tour

View Now
Back to Blog