Many companies have mentor programs for young employees, but I like to think the best companies plant the seeds earlier in life. Swiss Re’s mentorship program with St. John’s University kicks off during Insurance Careers Month, when selected students in the School of Risk Management, Insurance & Actuarial Science will meet with their Swiss Re mentors for the first time.
The program is designed to give the students professional career guidance and access to a network of industry contacts. It’s also a great way to showcase the partnership between the young talent out there and our industry.
Skeptics may ask, “What college student would want to spend a Saturday morning having coffee with an underwriter discussing covered perils and exclusions?” Or, “Is an industry steeped in tradition and founded on the principle of selling an abstract promise compelling enough to stir the hearts of Millennials and Gen Z?”
Granted, there is a robust crop of eager converts at schools like St. John’s, but what about the larger population of teens and young career seekers?
Well, anyone who thinks insurance is only about solvency regulation and actuarial tables is mistaken. Ours is an industry that enables progress in every corner of the world. Just a few short months ago here in the US we saw the value of our industry following a series of devastating hurricanes. Those with insurance recovered quicker while those without face a long and uncertain path. But we're not only here when bad things happen. Without insurance, entrepreneurs would be grounded, unable to take flight with their business models and investor road shows.
When I think of the role of insurance and the professionals who make up this industry the word “dynamic” comes to mind. Dynamic is defined as “(a process or system)
characterized by constant change, activity, or progress.” That could well describe the insurance industry (think Insurtech, emerging risks and the Internet of Things). As employers - cultivators of talent - we need to make sure we live up to the definition in everything we do.
When you peel back the layers, you’ll find re/insurers doing exciting and significant things. Get behind the numbers. Ask yourself, “What are we protecting?” The answers will lead you in a dizzying number of directions. It’s essential we present ourselves to prospective employees as a facilitator of the future, because without insurance there would be no risk-taking, innovation or progress. In fact, insurance generated 3.1 percent of the US GDP last year, outpacing securities at 1.3 percent and banking at 2.8 percent. Not bad, right!?
Insurance has come a long way in the last five years, and a myriad of opportunities await intellectually curious and driven individuals. One CEO recently told an audience at the Joint Industry Forum he’s hiring a lot more data scientists and software engineers these days.
I think it’s great that Swiss Re has engaged with the St. John’s students. We need more programs like it across the industry. Mentorship is important and provides many benefits. For the mentee it’s a professionally enriching experience that accelerates development – sharpening judgement, fostering intellectual and emotional maturity and building business acumen. For the mentor it’s a source of inspiration, a way of looking at things differently and an opportunity to hone leadership skills.
As we kick off Insurance Careers Month, tell us about your experience as a mentor or mentee. We'd love to hear it!