With talent shortages a perennial industry challenge, a group of NIBA YPs have taken it upon themselves to sell insurance as a career.
by Cecilia Harris
As brokers, Austbrokers AEI Transport’s Noel Kelly and Willis’ Alexandra Ferguson are well accustomed to standing up in front of clients and making a pitch for their business.
On an autumn afternoon in Sydney, however, the pair was involved in a pitch of a very different kind. Instead of spruiking the strengths of their brokerages, they were selling the value of a career in the insurance industry.
Along with Gen Re’s Stephen Brunker, Zurich’s Skye Theodorou and Scott Woodward, Kelly and Ferguson were part of a NIBA NSW YP Committee panel convened at the University of Technology Sydney and aimed at switching on the uni’s highest achievers to the prospect of an insurance career.
One of the most universal concerns in the insurance industry is attracting enough young talent. Insurance has never enjoyed a particularly high or glamorous profile, and few outside the industry comprehend its richness of career options.
Who wouldn’t want to work in an industry that is diverse, dynamic and exciting every day of the week?
Proper promotion of insurance as a career is seen as so vital NIBA recently made it a key objective. NIBA has also partnered with the Insurance Council of Australia and ANZIIF to work on an industry-wide venture to raise the profile of insurance careers.
However, NIBA is also examing other opportunities to promote insurance careers, which is where the UTS session comes in.
Part of the university’s ‘Job Truths’ series of financial services panels, the forum aimed to enlighten undergraduates on the realities of an insurance career. The attendees involved were high-achieving students, from a range of fields of study, including law, business and IT.
The panel shared personal stories about how they were inspired to get involved in insurance with many of the attendees surprised at how varied avenues were for each panellist. Suggestions and tips were shared with students regarding pathways into jobs, with YPs advocating on behalf of cadetships, graduate and mentor programs, and encouraging those interested to get involved in networking and career events.
The two-hour session wrapped up with small working groups, where students were given the opportunity to ask questions of individual panellists. At this stage in the forum, the room was buzzing with queries; panellists were
offering involved advice while students were noting references and steps for future planning.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
NIBA Communications Manager Neal Maidment says initiatives like this can play an important role in highlighting the value of careers in insurance and the duty insurance professionals perform within the broader community. And he says YPs have a special role to play in the process.
“I think the panellists are very relatable to the young audience,” he says. “If these people love their careers in insurance, then that says something about what a great industry it is to be a part of.
Insurance is possibly the best-kept secret in employment.
“We’re lucky that some of our members are proactive enough to get up and try to raise the perception of the value of a career in insurance, and who are great advocates for insurance as a whole. They have found that it’s a career that’s paying off for them and is rewarding on a number of levels. That’s a very powerful message to share with an engaged audience like this.”
One of the intentions of the day was to clear up a few misconceptions about the profession. Feedback from students showed not only a heightened awareness of roles within the industry, but also a new found understanding of the various pathways and areas of work of which the industry offers.
“My impression of the insurance industry has definitely changed,” says Leslie, who is studying business. “I now know that it’s quite broad in terms of its opportunities. It’s not just about life, home or contents insurance. There are endless opportunities within the industry.”
Attendees were also encouraged to think about moulding future goals they might have regarding study and travel or part-time work into their potential careers in insurance.
“I understand now that there is a huge demand for graduates in the insurance industry compared to accounting or finance,” says business student Marcus. “It’s encouraging to know you will get support from your employer if you are invested in the industry. There is a lot of room for progression.”
Buoyed by the success of the UTS events, NIBA is keen to keep the ball rolling. “Hopefully, we will come back here every year,” NIBA’s Maidment says. “We’d like to think this process could be rolled out across other universities to get NIBA members in front of the top students to start educating the young community on what insurance is actually all about, as opposed to what people think insurance is all about.”
For further information visit niba.com.au/careers