Tag Archives: career

Flexible Career

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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.

 

Friday Fun

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As I have written on several occasions in the past, the risk and insurance industry is facing a talent shortage.  It also happens to be facing an image problem as well, and the two situations are likely correlated.  So what can the industry do to overcome its image problem with college students and young professionals?  Well, for starters here is Liberty Mutual’s viral video to help young students prepare for job interviews, and perhaps simultaneously casting the insurance career option in a better light.

The Institutes offers another very helpful and comprehensive website, InsureMyPath.org that includes fantastic resources (including videos) highlighting what a risk and insurance  career has to offer.  It includes a tool that maps your education and interests to the risk and insurance careers that may be the best fit.  There is internship information and a collection of enlightening and entertaining videos also available on the site.

As we begin the Memorial Day holiday weekend, have some fun.  Check out some of the videos that may change your perception of the risk and insurance industry.  Most of all, be safe as you celebrate this holiday weekend, and please remember and honor those have served and sacrificed to make our lives better.

“Hottest” Hiring Market in Years

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No doubt about it… the insurance industry is in need of young talent.  I’ve written about this fact several times in the past year, and the evidence continues to point to continued strengthening in the demand for labor in and around the insurance industry.  The latest evidence is provided by a study that you can read about here.  If ever there was a time to consider a career in risk management and insurance, it is now.

Speaking of opportunities, here is one for those with at least some experience in the industry and an interest in an exciting “ground-floor” opportunity:

An independent insurance agency based in Southfield, Michigan is seeking a licensed insurance producer with at least three years of experience to join its firm and help to drive its growth plan. For the right professional with strong motivation and drive, this opportunity could involve some ownership interest in the agency. Individuals interested in exploring this opportunity should contact Souzan Haddad at 248-352-3222.

I am aware of several career and internship opportunities in the insurance industry right now, so the aforementioned opportunity is but one example.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

Oh, and one more thing… the vernal equinox occurs at 6:45pm EDT today (March 20) so this is the perfect time to wish you a happy spring-time!

Risky Business

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On November 11th, at 11:00am in BUS 210 of the Ferris State College of Business building, students will gather to hear risk management and insurance professionals discuss a variety of topics.  The discussion will include…

  • Career Opportunities, Compensation, and Rewards
  • A Day in the Life…
  • Insuring Celebrity Body Parts (what is that all about?)
  • Driverless Cars (how will this affect risk and insurance?)
  • Black Swan Events
  • Ebola
  • Cyber Risk
  • Expensive Insurance (why?)

This event will be a great opportunity for anyone interested or curious about “risky business” to learn more.  I encourage anyone who can get to the Big Rapids campus on November 11th to check this out.

 

 

Rebuilding Lives

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One aspect of the insurance industry that I believe is undersold in the recruiting process is the opportunity to rebuild broken lives.  On several occasions in recent months, I have written in this forum about the opportunities for a good and stable career in the insurance industry.  But it’s more than just a stable industry with appealing compensation and growing opportunities.  Much more.

When you boil it all down to the basic mission of the insurance industry, it’s all about rebuilding lives that have been disrupted if not turned upside down by an unfortunate event.  It could be as minor as a fender-bender auto accident or as major as the destruction of a home by fire or storm.  Everything we do in the insurance industry comes down to the moment that we help the customer to recover from the fender-bender or rebuild the family home.  We sell the policies with an eye toward covering these loss exposures, we underwrite to offer the coverage that is proper and fair and responsibly priced, we loss control risks to prevent as many losses as possible, we analyze the data to develop proper coverages and rates, and we settle the loss to put the customer’s life back together.  What an awesome mission and privilege.

I have to credit Auto-Owners Insurance Company Chairman and CEO Jeff Harrold who did express this appealing mission to the attendees of his company’s recent career day event which I wrote about here.  Much has been written (here and elsewhere) about the “graying” of the insurance industry with reports that perhaps 25% of the current insurance workforce will retire in the next 4-6 years.  That fact adds some urgency to industry appeals for young talented people to consider an insurance career.  But Millenials want more than a good job.  They want a meaningful job, and so part of the industry’s appeal for young talent must emphasize the noble mission of rebuilding broken lives.  What an incredible opportunity… make a good living, working in a stable industry with significant advancement opportunities, while helping your customers through perhaps the toughest days of their lives.  Sign me up.

Wanted! Bright Young Professionals!

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The insurance industry offers a variety of career possibilities for young people, and it is a remarkably stable industry in terms of employment.  There are several industry organizations whose mission is to promote the risk management and insurance industry as a viable career option for today’s youth.  I intend to highlight some of these organizations over the next few months, beginning today with the Michigan Future Foundation.

MIFuture.org provides fantastic resources for exploring the industry including videos, scholarships, educational opportunities, and speakers.  If you happen to know someone who might be interested in exploring the insurance industry, I encourage you to share this resource with them.  I met with MFF’s board of directors earlier this year and they are true professionals who are motivated to communicate the career opportunities available in the insurance industry.  In the course of my conversations with board members, the common theme was that the insurance industry has provided them with a wonderful career and they wish to give back to the industry by helping to bring along the next generation of insurance professionals.  This is truly a stellar group of professionals and the MIFuture website is a resource worthy of sharing.