Celebrating achievement on International Women’s Day


“I’m never going to feel totally successful, because I always find something new to achieve,” says Sandra Pacheco, an insurance professional with FFP Insurance Services in Houston, Texas and a mom of four. It’s this positive, goals-based thinking that drives Sandra to continually seek out new challenges.

#ChooseToChallenge is the theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) this year. On March 8, 2021 people across the globe will celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. In honor of IWD, we spoke with three insurance professionals about how they define success in their lives and what the campaign means to them.

Meeting the challenge

“I choose to celebrate International Woman Day with pride, with happiness, and by giving myself and my coworkers big applause because we did it,” says Sandra. “It was a pandemic, so it was completely understandable to stand back, but we didn’t.” With the health of her family and her community top of mind, Sandra found ways to safely pivot her business, help her clients get what they need and continue giving back in her community. Sandra chooses to challenge every day.

Stephanie Burnham-Fewster, and her sister Shannon Burnham, are insurance professionals with BridgeForce Financial Group in London, Ontario. They are finding innovative ways to build the business while supporting employees and the broader community amid the challenges that Covid-19 presents. “We have most of our staff working from home and a lot are mothers,” she says. “They’re trying to teach children, be there, be the teachers, work and be on Zoom,” says Stephanie. The company had to be flexible and pivot to manage this new reality. Stephanie and Shannon choose to challenge every day.

Supporting and celebrating

Sandra moved to the U.S. from Puerto Rico and knows first-hand how challenging it is to communicate in a new language. She helps seniors at a local community center, particularly women, with conversational English and basic technology skills, including mobile phones and Facebook. “I went through that same problem when I moved to the U.S., so I encourage them and I help them,” she says. “My focus is to bring happiness to my senior community.”

Early in the pandemic, Stephanie saw how local small businesses — many of them owned by women —were hit hard. She decided that her firm would make this a priority. “We’ve really tried to focus in on women’s small businesses,” she says. For example, prizes for company contests were often Amazon or Visa gift cards, but they’ve now shifted to local restaurants or small niche stores. Going local across Canada means a lot of extra leg work, but the team saw this as an opportunity to celebrate small businesses in a tough time.

Outside of the insurance business, Shannon also owns a jewelry business. The company donates a meal through the Breakfast Club of Canada for every purchase. At the time of writing, her company is just shy of 10,000 donated meals. “It was very important to me to have a charitable component within my business,” she says.

Defining success

For Sandra, her goals evolve as her life changes, which keeps her motivated. She cites health, family and financial security as the signals of success in her personal life. In business, it’s all about building long-term trust and credibility. “You don’t have to look for excuses for not being successful,” she says. “The world will give you those excuses every day.” Her advice? “Respect yourself,” she says. “Because if you respect yourself, others will respect you too.”

Shannon believes that success means something different for everyone. “I think being successful is about being fulfilled,” she says. “For me, it is waking up in the morning feeling excited about the day and having a purpose.”

Her sister agrees and says giving back is a key metric of personal and business success. Stephanie is a Foresters member, and in December she applied for (and received!) a Foresters Community Grant and used it to help a local children’s hospital by creating kits for kids and decorating their hospital rooms to bring some joy over the holidays. “It was easy to do,” she says. “And it was amazing!”

IWD: #ChooseToChallenge

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of all women, including Sandra, Shannon and Stephanie. If you want to get involved, visit International Women’s Day for more information, including resources, news and details about events around the world. #ChooseToChallenge

419706 CAN/US (03/21)

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