20 under 40: Nicole Shaffer

Nicole Shaffer 

Officer manager for Century Mutual Insurance Association in Hartley

HARTLEY—Some have a trial by fire. Others jump into the deep end feet first and sink or swim.

For Nicole Shaffer, a new cliche would have to be formed.

Just a few short months after starting at Century Mutual Insurance Association in Hartley in 2011, a hailstorm swept through the company’s southern territory. Century Mutual specializes in home and farm insurance. Shaffer, who started out in claims processing, estimated the company had about 1,100 claims that year.

“That was a good starting memory — boom, hit with a storm. I’d hardly had training time so I was broke in pretty good,” she said. “I was learning new forms and policies and everything. I think it was the best way to learn the system and everything I could do.”

In comparison, her tenure since then has seemed fairly easygoing.

Her current job title is office manager, and she enjoys days that are always a little bit different and she does a little bit of everything.

She handles some of the human resource functions as well as a lot of the accounting, including the monthly and year-end financials. She takes customer calls and backs up several positions throughout the office when other staff members are gone.

“Numbers have always been my thing actually,” Shaffer said. “I was not a geometry or physics person, but algebra, regular numbers — that kind of thing I always enjoyed.”

Being good with numbers could have had something to do with another major portion of Shaffer’s workload: technology.

Over time she has become the company’s de facto one-woman IT department.

“I kind of just fell into the IT thing. I must catch on with new technology pretty easily, so that fell onto my plate and worked out well,” Shaffer said.

Recently, the weather once again played a bit of havoc with Shaffer’s workload as blizzards and their accompanying power outages meant Shaffer focused on the IT aspect of her duties to keep systems up and running.

The challenge of tackling something different on any given day is something that appeals greatly to Shaffer.

“Tech issues and accounting consume most of my days, but it’s always different. I enjoy the challenges of working with numbers. Each day is different and I like that a lot,” Shaffer said “It’s also fun to implement new technology programs and teach people how to run them.”