Practical Education, Flexible Career, Rewarding Life.
Last week, I posted about the practical education element of the Ferris State RMI program’s tagline. In the continuing spirit of Insurance Careers Month, I will discuss the flexible career aspect this week. I’d like to begin by highlighting one example of insurance career flexibility: me.
I was one of the many “accidental” insurance professionals who stumbled into a commercial underwriting position fresh out of college. A few years later, I moved into a risk management role with a large retailer. Applying my interests and aptitudes for technology, I eventually started my own consulting practice where I worked on several Fortune 500 risk management information system projects. An opportunity came along to develop a system and process for tracking certificates of insurance, and an entirely new business was born. Over the course of ten years, I was able to grow and then sell that business, and then pursue the bucket list objective of earning a doctoral degree. Shortly thereafter, Ferris State revived its RMI academic program and began searching for a lead faculty and program coordinator, and here I am today.
Over the years, I’ve talked to countless risk and insurance professionals, some who intentionally entered the industry and many who discovered it accidentally. I am always intrigued by the unique stories of these career arcs. They are always a fascinating story of career evolution that starts in one area of the industry and then twists and turns through a variety of different roles, opportunities, firms, and locations. Many in the industry have had the chance to live in some wonderful places, including overseas. Here in Michigan, insurance professionals can work in the metropolitan areas of Detroit and Grand Rapids, or near the exquisite shorelines of Grand Haven and Traverse City, or in the pristine wilderness (and sportsman’s paradise) of the Upper Peninsula. The key takeaway from my and many other stories is that a risk and insurance career is not stagnant, but rather it allows for evolution through a number of interesting, challenging, and meaningful positions in a variety of locations.
A flexible career has another meaning besides career path mobility and opportunity. Numerous articles describing the desire for workplace flexibility have appeared in recent years, particularly when discussing the Millennial generation. However, I believe that this desire for flexibility is not unique to the Millennials. In this age of instant, always-on communication, I think we all value the ability to work from anywhere we wish, and at the times that we wish. Technology certainly supports our ability to be productive from our home office or even from the bleacher seats as we watch our children and grandchildren play sports. The risk and insurance industry offers this type of flexibility. Many professionals are now based out of home offices. Field personnel who do loss control or claims work often schedule their own appointments. I’ve spoken with many insurance agents over the years who treasure the ability to work in the office during the morning, have a client meeting over lunch, spend time on a family activity during the afternoon, and finish up their day with a little work in their home office. The next day’s schedule may look entirely different – it’s up to them.
Let me be clear. There is work to be done. I don’t intend to paint a picture of insurance professionals spending all of their afternoons on the golf course, During my consulting days, I traveled 50-75% of the time and I was away from my young family more than I cared to be at times. Nevertheless, the work was always interesting, never boring, and I always had a degree of control over when I scheduled projects. On the whole, I have enjoyed a tremendous amount of flexibility and variety in my risk and insurance career, and you can too.