Drew Higginbothom, an insurance agent from Forrest City, Arkansas, has always understood the value of education.
“My mom was a fifth-grade teacher her whole life,” he said. “She taught to give back to kids. I always admired her.”
At 42, Higginbothom is a successful leader in the Arkansas insurance industry. He serves as vice president of Smith and Company Insurance, Inc. The company has 17 employees and offices in Forrest City, Little Rock, Marianna, and Stuttgart.
A 2006 graduate of UA Little Rock’s Master of Business Administration program, Higginbothom credits his education as an essential component of his success in business.
“UA Little Rock’s MBA program truly taught me more than just subject matter,” he said. “It’s very applicable to what I do today since I’m very involved in the running of the business. They are solid individuals who care about their students. They teach material, and you can see it being applied in real life.”
Growing up, golf was also a huge part of Higginbothom’s life. He recalls how his parents would often drop him off during summer mornings, and he would practice all day until night. He eventually played on the golf team while he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2003.
Like many young people do, Higginbothom moved away from home after graduating college to explore life during what he describes as his “what-do-you-do phase.” He lived and worked in the golf industry in Tampa Bay, Florida, for two years before deciding to return to Arkansas.
“I had to go and get out into the world,” Higginbothom said. “After a year goes by, the lightbulb comes on. I called my dad and said ‘I’m coming home,’ and he said’ I’ve been waiting on you to make that call.’ He suggested that I should go to law school or get a master’s degree. I decided I would apply for a master’s program, and that’s how I wound up at UA Little Rock.”
Higginbothom joined the MBA program at UA Little Rock, a decision that had a great influence on his future career in the insurance industry. He worked full-time while taking classes at night.
“I would 100 percent recommend people get an MBA if it fits their current situation in life,” he said. “There is no downside to procuring your MBA in my mind.”
Higginbothom recalls learning important skills from business professors Andy Terry and Mark Funk.
“With Andy’s courses, you are always left with something you can take away. You realize that you need to log it in your mind because it will be useful in the future,” he said. “Funk has a way of presenting things that are entertaining. Their courses were influential in my life and still are today. That information helped to accelerate my career. I utilize it every year having to run a business. They prepared me well to do that.”
Upon graduation from UA Little Rock, Higginbothom went to work as a commercial broker for Ramsey, Krug, Farrell, and Lensing.
“I was introduced to Ramsey Krug during my last semester at UA Little Rock,” he said. “I always had an inkling I would ultimately go into insurance. Ramsey Krug gave me the best training I could possibly have to be a commercial-focused insurance agent. Ultimately, I made a decision to move closer to home when I had an opportunity to work with Mark Smith to own and operate a business.”
A native of Marianna, Arkansas, Higginbothom grew up in a tight-knit family that also influenced his decision to join Smith and Company Insurance in 2011. He and his wife Jessica are the proud parents of three daughters – Fuller, Merritt, and Palmer.
“I loved where I grew up. That is why I eventually moved to Forrest City, Arkansas,” he said. “I have three children, and my brother has three children. We have a standing family dinner with my parents every Sunday at 5 p.m.”
Having been a partner at Smith and Company Insurance for more than 10 years, Higginbothom is actively involved in the community and serves as a board member for Armor Bank, Forrest City Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas, Revitalization of Downtown Forrest City, and Rotary Club.
Higginbothom is a firm believer in the benefits of higher education and giving back to students to help them achieve their goal of obtaining a college education.
“That’s why I have agreed to point people from my community who are interested in college to UA Little Rock,” he said. “Because that’s relatable to me, and it has a positive impact on people’s lives. I’m a big believer in showing up and doing the right thing. Giving back to the community and my university is the right thing to do.”