Growing up on a farm in Sanford, N.C., Candice Wood saw her father awaken every day at 4:30 a.m. and put in a 13-hour day to provide for his family.
‘Honey, if you can make $40,000 a year, you can take care of yourself, and I will not have to worry about you,’ he would tell her. She turned the advice into her first career goal.
Today, Candice is a market leader and general manager of AmeriLife insurance offices in Greensboro, Cary, Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington, N.C. She has accomplished more than she could have ever imagined.
Candice was reluctant at first to share her experiences at the 2018 Career Empowerment for Her seminar, organized annually by The Career Center of the Triad. This year’s event took place Sept. 22.
The Career Center provides programs for job seekers and employers in the 12-county region, which is home to 1.6 million people living in 62 municipalities in central North Carolina, including Greensboro.
Candice met Kim Harris, the center’s president, through recruiting for AmeriLife agents at the center’s job fairs, and the two women developed a good working relationship.
Even so, Candice had turned down Kim’s invitation in 2017 because she dislikes public speaking. It was one of her agents, 27-year-old Omari Hunt, who persuaded her to participate in the event.
“Your story is amazing,” he told her. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Not only did Candice agree to do it – giving back to women and to the community is important to her – AmeriLife became a vendor. Agents staffed a booth and offered information about our insurance and retirement solutions to guests.
Correcting her course
Like most people, Candice did not aspire to become an insurance sales professional.
Just two days before she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science, one of her professors encouraged students to find their passion in life. Happiness and money would follow, he told them.
“I wrote ‘passion’ at the top of my paper and then two words under that – kindergarten and seniors,” she recalled.
“In the center below, I wrote ‘helping others.”
Candice was about to earn a degree she would not put to use, but that did not bother her.
“I decided that day my passion was seniors, and I started my journey of insurance planning for retirees,” she said.
Forging her path
Candice was 22 when she first walked into the AmeriLife office in Greensboro in 2001. She saw 10 or more men in their 50s and 60s all dressed in suits and ties.
She remembers thinking, am I in the right place? No one here is close to my age, and no one here looks like me.
Then she answered herself: I picked my passion, so AmeriLife is my place.
Once contracted as an agent, Candice steadily rose within the ranks. She was promoted to branch leader in 2005, to general manager in 2008 and to market leader in 2018.
“I went into a male-dominated industry,” she reflected. “Now, 18 years later, I have over 50 planners, and half of them are women.”
Making a difference
These days, Candice is a Greensboro resident who likes spending her free time with her parents, sister, brothers and five nieces, all of whom live in her hometown of Sanford. In addition, she enjoys kickboxing and exercise and is active in her church.
She described her mom and dad as “beyond amazed” by what she has achieved.
“They are very happy and proud that I am serving so many clients in the community,” she said, “and that I get paid so well for doing what I love.”
Naturally, Candice shares her success with the entire family, who have enjoyed numerous vacation trips and cruises.
She has also been able to help her sister, a single mom with limited resources, in various ways, including taking her sister and her niece on an AmeriLife Disney cruise.
Living the dream
As someone who does insurance and retirement planning for a living, Candice follows her own advice. She does not want to work quite as hard as she does now, later in life.
At the same time, she is looking out for the interests of the people who work for her.
She would like them to be able to send their children to the schools of their choice; and to travel beyond the mountains and beaches of North Carolina, if they so desire.
And while money does not buy the happiness Candice’s college professor spoke of all those years ago, “it does help you gain the freedom to do what you want.”