Kristen Gruber – Inspiring authenticity
Kristen’s story with iA Financial Group began when Dealers Assurance Company (DAC) was acquired along with Southwest RE in 2018. At that time, she had been President of DAC for four years. After successfully bringing these two entities together under the banner of iA, Kristen was faced with another integration challenge when IAS was acquired in 2020.
Needless to say, her 30 years of experience in the automotive industry, including 13 years with Great American Insurance Company, have primed her for success at iA.
Beyond her expert knowledge of the market, Kristen also draws from her keen sense of human relations to bring her projects to fruition. “I want to inspire my colleagues, especially by highlighting all the positives that come from working at iA. I’m deeply convinced that together we can meet any challenge and shape a great future for the entire organization.”
“I’ve been so lucky to be able to count on the experience and positive outlook of my mentor and manager, Mike Stickney, Executive Vice-President, Chief Growth Officer US Operations, Co-Head of Acquisitions. Mike has been in the insurance business for almost 45 years. His calm demeanor perfectly complements my leadership style and helps me put challenges in perspective and stay grounded.”
Kristen has a relentless desire to improve: “I love to read in my spare time, and I especially appreciate it when I can apply what I read to enrich my life. I also love learning French, even though my self-study progress has been slow. It brings me such joy when I can understand a French podcast from start to finish or can successfully translate passages. I’ve been working on Le Petit Prince for years now and hope to move faster next year when I sign up for French lessons.”
Beyond her thirst for self-improvement, Kristen has deep-rooted humanitarian values, with a particular focus on supporting public education and local arts organizations through a donor-advised fund she started with her partner. “Until I have more time for volunteerism, the best way for me to make a difference in people’s lives is to support the non-profits helping those in need.” Kristen began cultivating this altruism in 1996, taking time off at Great American to do a year of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She spent a year in Alaska, raising funds and developing a youth-run business for the Sitka Teen Resource Center. She fondly remembers that year spent living outside her comfort zone.
“In my free time, I got certified as a Marine Safety Education instructor for AMSEA (Alaska Marine Safety Education Association) and had many opportunities to travel to remote fishing villages in Alaska, where I taught local youth about marine safety. In that region, commercial and subsistence fishing accidents were far too common, and many injuries and deaths are preventable with proper training on how to survive in the water.”
In fact, Kristen starts many days off in the water with a masters swim team. Her mornings begin at 4:00 am—a schedule she insists suits her perfectly.
“I like waking up early, before everyone else, to spend some time on me. Then, at 7:00 am, I’m ready to invest all my energy in my work and my teams.” These teams are spread across the continent—Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Quebec City, Waco, etc.—but Kristen has no problem working between time zones. “I’ve been in a telework environment since 2005; Teams meetings are second nature to me now. That being said, my leadership team makes sure to get together in person once a quarter.”
A human touch, driven by interpersonal relationships, is at the heart of everything Kristen does—and this essential part of her has found its niche at iA Financial Group:
“I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life working intensely on a personal development journey, attending many week-long experiential seminars, and participated in a mastermind group for almost two decades with the goal of learning how to be an authentic person in my life. For the first time in my career, I’ve found an organization that supports this journey, making it easy to show up the same way in my personal and professional lives.” Just as Kristen appreciates this work environment that respects her authenticity, iA too can be glad that it has another inspiring leader at the table, especially one that can set the standard for other intelligent and caring women who are finding their place in the financial field.
As for Kristen, there’s no doubt that her strong interpersonal skills and her deep self-understanding will guide both her and iA to a bright future.