Victoria Elliott earned two degrees and has since embarked on a highly successful career with insurance provider GEICO.
It's been 20-something years since Victoria Elliott was an undergraduate student at Texas Tech University, but one thing remains unchanged.
She is still a Red Raider recruiter, evangelizing others about why her alma mater should also become theirs. She is a proud alum of the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, having earned a bachelor's in business administration degree in 1997 and her master's in business administration in 2003.
“Talking about Texas Tech is something that has come so easily to me,” Elliott says in looking back at how her life and the university she loves remain intertwined. “It is a great place, a unique place, a special place. The people there are genuine, and that is what made it stand out to me.”
Since those special days on campus, Elliott has gone on to a successful career in the insurance business. She went to work for GEICO shortly after receiving her master's and worked her way up the company's corporate ladder while building a reputation as an astute and gifted problem-solver.
Today, she not only owns her own GEICO insurance office, but she learned insurance from the ground up by doing and leading in each operational department.
“The culture of the company is, ‘Think like an owner,'” Elliott said. “You always want to make decisions as if this is your company because it is. GEICO was an amazing place to start my career.”
But that's getting ahead of the story because as inspirational as her achievements are, they are liberally sprinkled with red and black. There is no other way to say it: Elliott and Texas Tech were meant for each other.
She grew up in Dallas and attended Bishop Lynch, a small, private school, prior to making the transition to college. She visited several early contenders, including Texas A&M, the University of Texas at Austin and even the University of Minnesota.
But none of them felt like home. Then she connected with several Texas Tech representatives at a career fair.
“I remember thinking to myself that those other places weren't me,” she recalled, “but I thought I would go see what Lubbock was about, and my parents and I went.”
One of the things Elliott remembers about that first trip to the Hub City is they somehow managed to do the impossible, getting lost in a community where the streets are alphabetical and numerical.
“I don't know how you do that, but we eventually pulled into a gas station, and I asked a woman for directions to the university,” Elliott said, “She said, ‘I can drive you there. Follow us.' That was my first impression of Lubbock and the university. Everyone was so nice.”
The positive vibes continued for Elliott upon reaching campus. Texas Tech looked the way she had imagined a college campus should look. Everyone she encountered was glad to see her, going out of their way to make her feel at home.
“At some of the other schools, I had the feeling I would be lucky to go there, but Texas Tech was different,” she said. “It was like they would be lucky to have me. They wanted me to be here.”
It was a big adjustment for Elliott. She was one of only three people from her high school to come to Texas Tech. She was a five-hour drive away from her home and didn't know anyone on campus, but she didn't let that stop her from blazing her own path.
While she was able to connect with classmates and develop friendships, Elliott also decided to go through recruitment and pledge the Chi Omega sorority. It wasn't long before she also connected with the Raider Recruiters, an all-female spirit organization with roots dating to 1975.
The group was composed of outgoing, successful young women who could confidently articulate the advantages of becoming a Red Raider student-athlete and answer virtually any question about Texas Tech. While the recruiters no longer exist as an organization on campus, their responsibilities are now handled by students through President's Select.
“From the moment I got to school, it was a great experience,” Elliott said. “I felt like my high school had done a good job preparing me for college, so it was virtually a seamless transition. Getting involved in as many things as possible early was important, and I am very proud of everything that Texas Tech provided me during my time there.”
Elliott particularly remembers a group of recruits that included one of the more familiar names in Texas Tech football annals.
“Kliff Kingsbury was one of the recruits who came in one weekend,” she said, referring to the former Red Raider quarterback and head coach. “That was definitely a neat experience, and (former standout receiver) Wes Welker came through at that time. All those memories were part of a great experience. Because of that, talking about Texas Tech just came so easily to me.”
Each of those campus experiences helped Elliott become especially fluent in the language unique to Red Raiders. Having been part of a Greek organization, the association with athletics and connecting with the career center at Rawls College all equipped her with knowledge she was eager to share with prospective students.
This came as no surprise to those who knew her while she was at Texas Tech. Elliott was driven to strive for excellence in everything she did, beginning with academic expectations.
“She was just an outstanding student,” remembered Jeffrey Harper, who has been at Texas Tech for almost 30 years, first as staff overseeing the international business programs office at the business college and then as faculty. “That's probably why I talked to her about working in my office.”
Harper, now an assistant professor of practice, recalled how Elliott had a knack for anticipating what needed to be done. She brought an unmatched work ethic to the office, a quality that has served her well throughout her professional career.
For a while, she thought she'd become a lawyer and dedicate her life to helping others, but a political science class was all it took to change her mind. It wasn't a negative experience; it just helped her learn there were other ways to make a positive impact on people.
“I don't think anyone grows up saying they want to work in insurance,” she said with a good-natured laugh. “Helping people is something I enjoy, and the insurance industry gives me the chance to do that many times over.”
That was only part of the appeal, though. One of the many lessons she had gleaned at Texas Tech was to get the most out of a site visit to a prospective employer. As she prepared for meeting GEICO's representatives, that meant not just hearing about perks and benefits, but paying attention to other people who already worked there.
Elliott first heard about GEICO at an on-campus career center where she worked. The GEICO team was visiting for the first time, and the director at the career center asked Elliott to provide them with a campus tour.
The tour involved setting up class, student and professor visits, which helped determined whether a company would be interested in recruiting from the Texas Tech campus. After their visit with business programs and students, the GEICO team was pleased and wanted to recruit from Texas Tech.
GEICO's representatives saw something in Elliott as well, someone with as much energy and talent as enthusiasm and upside. They wanted to interview her for a spot in the company's Emerging Leaders Program, which fast tracks participants through the numerous business units of the company's operations and prepares them for significant leadership roles.
The program required prospects to sit for a panel interview. While some might see this part of the process as intimidating, Elliott embraced it because of what she saw when she walked into that room.
“I looked at the table, and there were people there who looked like me,” she said. “There were women at the table, and they were in key positions, not just grabbing coffee for someone. The vice president of sales for one region was a woman of color. I said, ‘I can see myself here.' It was huge.”
More than that, though, she liked what she saw, including the distinct possibility of seeing herself as part of their team.
“I remember looking at everyone,” she said. “They were happy and engaged. It was obvious they wanted to be there.”
Elliott was accepted into the program and began with the Dallas office as her first rotation. She eventually moved through various areas and offices, and she not only absorbed knowledge along the way, but she also repeatedly demonstrated her abilities to handle ever-increasing responsibilities.
She credits her workforce readiness to the rigorous expectations Texas Tech places upon its students.
“I used the leadership skills I learned at Texas Tech as far as maneuvering through difficult conversations and how you really lead,” she said. “That is something that sets Texas Tech apart. I think Red Raiders stand out, and that's because of the way they mold students there.
“They always told us, ‘You don't know what you don't know and that it is always OK to ask questions.' Still today, every student at Texas Tech we've recruited has that special shine.”
GEICO repeatedly leaned on Elliott throughout her near two decades with the company. She has helped lead the strategic internet business unit in the company's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The primary responsibility was shaping how search engines would respond to queries about the company and its portfolio of insurance products.
From there, she moved to the new product team and then to the motorcycle division before a stopover in New York City with the company's service division. About 10 years ago, she was asked to return to lead Dallas Territory 5 Service department, which encompasses some nine states.
Elliott also has worked in the company's human resources department where she has helped lead recruiting, retention and internship initiatives, some of which have occasionally reconnected her with Texas Tech.
“The biggest thing about Victoria is her drive,” said Clifton Johnston, who works as a senior academic adviser in the Rawls College and is related to her through marriage. “Ever since I've known her, it's been go, go, go. She doesn't want to stop. She wants to do well, and she wants to help all the people she can along the way.”
In her final role for GEICO corporate, the company asked her to help recruit agency owners as it looked to expand the local office presence across the United States. As part of that effort, Elliott opened her own agency in Mesquite, Texas, near the end of 2019, also generally known as the last stretch of normal days before COVID-19 became part of the everyday vernacular.
Although GEICO (which stands for government employees insurance company) primarily markets directly to consumers, it also has field offices for people seeking a traditional agent-led insurance experience.
“The pandemic changed everything,” she said. “It also made me a better businessowner because there were things I learned about operations, budget management, expense control and leadership I would have never known had it not been for the pandemic. It was one of the hardest things I ever faced, but I am thankful the experience helped me grow in ways I couldn't have imagined.”
Now at last on the other side of the pandemic, Elliott has worked to grow her business and its footprint in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In addition to meeting the insurance needs of customers, her agency regularly engages in community outreach that focuses on recognizing veterans and strengthening educational efforts.
She does this through events that focus on giving back and addressing specific needs such as hunger and homelessness. Her team tries to do some community service every month, regularly rotating the emphasis and the audience.
“Youth education is very important to me, from elementary to high school to college, whatever we can do to be a resource,” she said. “We do something every month that highlights service, community and giving back.”
As Elliott has built a successful career, she's never lost sight of the Texas Tech influence on her life. Her husband's family has ties to Lubbock, and they try to make it back for at least one football game a year, although the couple has two active young sons whose schedules keep them plenty busy.
“I love going to Lubbock and seeing the progress,” she said. “The campus has changed so much in so many amazing ways. I love it, and I always love going back.”
That's because Elliott knows Texas Tech helped make her who she is today, and the university, bigger and even more impressive now than it was then, can do the same for anyone else.
“This right here is where it begins,” she says of becoming a college student. “You are in charge of your future, your trajectory, your pursuit, your dreams and your vision for your life. Don't waste it. Maximize all the opportunities you have created to be there at this moment in time and make time for the people who helped you get where you are.
“Say thanks to God who gave you the skills and knowledge to be right where you are supposed to be and max out in the time you are at Texas Tech. The world can't wait to see what you will do. Remember, from here anything is possible.”