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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

How a Rotational Program Helped This Leader Find Direction in His Career

Jimmy Valentine, a director of product and market development at Unum Group.
Jimmy Valentine, a director of product and market development at Unum Group.
| Courtesy of Unum Group

When Jimmy Valentine left a career in nonprofits to join the insurance company Unum Group eight years ago, he wasn’t quite sure where he wanted his career to go. In the end, his uncertainty proved to be a good thing because it inspired him to complete the company’s four-year rotational program.

During the rotations, Valentine held three very different roles all over the U.S. He started by working on disability claims in Worcester, MA, then as a dental claims supervisor in Baton Rouge, LA, and finally as an enrollment strategy manager in Columbia, SC.

“The program had a large and important impact on my career growth,” says Valentine, who today is a director of product and market development at Unum Group. “Each role pushed me to develop and grow professionally as I learned how to function in each area and new location. Without these experiences, I don’t think I would be as well rounded professionally as I currently am.”

Here, he talks about his current role, how Unum Group has helped him learn and grow, and why everyone should try South Carolina barbecue.

What initially attracted you to apply for a position at Unum Group, and what has kept you there for over eight years?

The diversity of work at the company led me to apply to Unum Group and has kept me here. During my tenure, I’ve had the blessing of working in five different roles, which has allowed me to have a diverse set of experiences. Having the option to either stay in a role or move around the company and learn new things has been such a positive experience and it makes me feel appreciated.

What are you responsible for as the Director of Product and Market Development?

I’m currently responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of our dental products from a product perspective. This can include product development, working with other departments, or working through problems that occur while selling, administering, or adjudicating claims. I’m also responsible for our marketing materials. 

Overall, I’d say my job is to make sure the entire company is educated on our dental product offering while working with our field partners and other departments to keep the operation of dental running as smooth as possible.

In addition to the rotational program, how else has Unum Group supported your growth and development?

Unum Group has helped continue my growth and development by offering me opportunities to excel in my current role while also providing benefits like the student debt relief program. This program allows employees to use their PTO toward payments that are sent directly to qualified student loans. I’ve also made sure to take advantage of other benefits, including the 401K matching program, HSA program, and other financial programs that allow employees to get a head start on saving and preparing for retirement down the road.

What inspires you at work?

I’m currently working on dental development and am inspired by all the individuals in the different departments that I work with. I’m always amazed by the sheer number of talented and hard-working individuals here. This is true in my current role and has been true throughout my journey at Unum Group.

How would you describe the approach to management at Unum Group, and how has this helped you succeed?

I’ve had managers that not only supported the work I did on a day-to-day basis, but were also interested in my development as an employee and person. I’ve been blessed to have managers who made sure I wasn’t stagnant and pushed me to always strive for additional opportunities and challenges.

How does Unum Group give back to its communities, and how do you get involved?

As a company, we are very active with nonprofits, schools, and programs in each one of the cities where our campuses are located. For example, I currently take part in a mentoring program that partners with the nonprofit organization I used to work for. Through Unum Group, I have been invited to be on the board of this nonprofit.

What’s one thing most people would be surprised to find out about you?

I think most people would be surprised to find out that I am introverted in my personal life, especially when I’m at home. My role lends itself to being extroverted due to the number of meetings and individuals I need to communicate with daily. While I love what I do and the lively discussions, I also enjoy being at home and doing my own thing. It helps to recharge my batteries for the next day and allows me to be more extroverted at work, as I should be.

You’ve spent a lot of time living in South Carolina. What’s your favorite part about it and why?

My favorite parts of South Carolina are the weather and the food. I would choose living in the heat any day of the week instead of living in the cold. Food wise, I love Southern food, especially barbecue. I’m a mustard lover, and the condiment is taken to the next level when used as a base for South Carolina barbecue.