2021 Powered by Women – Collette ‘Coco’ Champagne


Like her customers, Collette “Coco” Champagne owns a classic vehicle close to her heart: a 1935 3/4 ton Chevrolet pickup that has been on her family’s fruit farm for generations. The vehicle helps him drive his job as COO of Traverse City-based Hagerty, the world’s largest provider of specialty insurance for classic, vintage and enthusiast vehicles.

“I love people, so I learn all the stories about their cars, and that’s really my big attraction to (the company),” says Champagne, who spent 22 years with Hagerty. “It’s rare that someone doesn’t have a story as to why they pick up their cars. That’s what makes it so fun.

Champagne also extends her personal skills to the Hagerty team, where she leads the company’s transition to a digital business. In fact, before becoming COO almost three years ago, his title was Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer.

“It’s good to build good relationships with people and (and) learn more about what makes them tick,” she says. “The more you learn about people, the easier it is to come together and solve problems. I am very empathetic and have a good understanding of people and what makes them tick. It’s probably my super power.

“(As a COO) I spend a lot of time talking to people and trying to empower them to make good decisions and help remove some of the obstacles they may face,” she explains. . “I look at our teams and make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs. I work with the technology teams (to) make sure they have really good communication with our sales teams about their priorities and how we can work together.

In addition to leading digital growth, Champagne monitors business performance, examines what drives profitability and revenue, and ensures Hagerty is meeting its annual goals and objectives. She also oversees an effort to make the company a better place to work, especially for other working mothers.

“Looking back on my career, I’ve always tried to make things better for people,” she says. “I focused a lot on working mothers and families, (and making it easier for them) by extending paid time off after giving birth and implementing an extended phased return to work policy. From a business perspective, it is important to allow working mothers to return to work gradually, should they choose to return.

Twenty-two years ago, when Champagne was first recruited to join Hagerty to develop its sales processes and practices for its inbound call center, the company had 70 employees. Today, it has 1,600 employees and offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. Over the past four years, Hagerty has grown 22% year over year.

“I want to continue to grow Hagerty and make a difference for the women leaders who are here,” said Champagne. “I really want to make a difference for all of our leaders, making sure they’re inclusive and realizing their potential. One of the things we always talk about is looking at issues with a growth mindset. I like the idea of ​​thinking about creating additional jobs with our growth.

To perpetuate this increase, Hagerty has implemented other non-insurance programs. “We don’t see ourselves just as an insurance company; We see ourselves as an automotive brand whose primary focus is on saving driving and keeping automotive culture alive, which is exciting for Hagerty and exciting for the State of Michigan.

The Hagerty Programs include a 620,000 member Hagerty Drivers Club, which has a YouTube channel that features programs such as “The Barn Find Hunter” and “Redline Rebuilds”. There is also a DriveShare program, where owners of classic cars can rent their vehicles, as well as insurance programs for classic racing cars.

The classic Chevrolet truck owner and gardener began her career as a loan officer at the National Bank of Detroit after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications and agriculture from Michigan State University. She also studied human resources at the University of Michigan.

Fortunately for Champagne, she has not experienced any discrimination based on her gender during her career. “Being a woman is not a problem with Hagerty,” she says. “The owners are very inclusive and have paved the way for women to have more responsibility.”

Responsibility is something Champagne learned growing up on a working farm, one of the requirements of which was learning to drive a manual transmission vehicle, which brings us back to the 1935 Chevy pickup. original, she said. “I had the bodywork cleaned and the paint redone. It’s adorable. ”

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