The need to recruit bright new talent into the E&S industry is widely accepted as a challenge that is likely to grow if not addressed proactively. The questions of how to not only recruit and train the next generation of leaders, but also how to maximize their potential within an organization, are mounting concerns for many firms. NAPSLO is working to address this need for members in several ways.
NAPSLO’s Career Awareness and Internship committees lead the charge in reaching out to prospective students around the country about careers in E&S and recruiting them to NAPSLO summer internships where they can learn about different career paths within the industry.
According to Mike Miller, co-chair of the current Career Awareness and Internship Committee, and President/CEO of Scottsdale Insurance Co., NAPSLO’s Career Awareness outreach this year has expanded. “Our volunteers have visited nearly 40 different college campuses in the past 18 months, and last year we talked with almost 3,000 students about careers in E&S,” Miller said. “There is so much opportunity in this industry, but we have to keep talking with students about those opportunities, and impress upon them that this is really a great industry in which to work. We have a lot of veteran professionals in our midst who are concerned about a potential talent gap. This is a great way that NAPSLO reaches out to bright young people.”
Miller said that the college presentations make students aware of career opportunities in different facets of the industry, and that utilizing the energy of NAPSLO’s Next Generation members to speak at their alma maters or visit schools near their current homes is particularly effective. “Students like to hear from young people about what it’s really like to work in the field, and they appreciate the energy and honesty that they bring to the conversation,” he said. “This program is so effective in raising awareness because of the time that our many volunteers are willing to commit to it.”
As a next step in educating and recruiting students to the surplus lines industry, NAPSLO also hosts a nine-week summer internship program for college students with interest in working in E&S. This year, 16 NAPSLO interns each spent five weeks with a NAPSLO member surplus lines insurance company and four weeks with a NAPSLO member wholesale brokerage firm. Bob Greenebaum, NAPSLO Career Awareness & Internship Committee Co-Chair, and Executive Vice President, Swett & Crawford, said that the program is successful, and sought-after by applicants, because of the breadth of experience it offers students.
“Earning a NAPSLO internship is very competitive. This is an exclusive opportunity and we select the best of the best to participate,” Greenebaum said. “This program is great for the students because they get to work alongside company and broker mentors, but it’s also great for our members because they get an opportunity to bring this young talent into their firms. These are students who want to pursue careers with us and this program is terrific for talent recruitment.”
New orientation program in 2015
This year’s interns participated in a new orientation program in early-June at the NAPSLO office. The two-day program provided them an opportunity to meet one another, gain some basic understanding about E&S and also hear about what soft skills are important in a successful internship. “We think that this orientation program is valuable for the students so we can better prepare them to get to work and be assets to their host firm’s teams more immediately,” Greenebaum said. “We received favorable feedback from students and the host companies.”
Ten NAPSLO summer interns were invited to attend the NAPSLO Annual Convention this week. Those interns are selected based on performance reviews from their host companies and brokers and on an essay written by the students about their summer experience and their goals. Based on interviews with members of the Career Awareness & Internship Committee, two interns will be selected as the J.H. Blades Scholar and Bermuda Scholar and will travel to London or Bermuda for three weeks in 2016 to learn more about those unique markets.
Miller said that since the program's inception in 1981, it has sponsored more than 265 interns and more than 50 percent of the former interns are currently working in the industry, with many employed by NAPSLO member firms.
Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation scholarship program
The Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation’s scholarship program also plays an important role in NAPSLO’s career awareness initiative. Brady Kelley, NAPSLO Executive Director and Foundation Treasurer, said that the Foundation selected 14 students to receive $5,000 scholarships for the 2015–2016 school year. “That scholarship is a nice investment in the future of that student and in our industry,” Kelley said. “It is a nice complement to the other career awareness activities that are undertaken by our Next Generation members and Career Awareness and Internship committee members, and really brings the recruitment goals full circle.”
The Foundation participates in two symposiums annually, The Excess & Surplus Lines Symposium hosted by Troy University, and the Extreme Risk Takers Symposium presented by Illinois State University, where students can learn more about careers in surplus lines and employers can connect with those students. The Foundation also supports Gamma Iota Sigma and its annual International Conference. All of these outreach opportunities provide NAPSLO members with access to talent they can recruit into successful careers in the E&S industry.
In the coming year, NAPSLO will enhance its committee structure to more effectively allocate the work among the growing number of committed member volunteers who make all of these initiatives possible. “The work of the Career Awareness and Internship Committee will be moved into two separate committees moving forward,” Kelley said. “By dividing this committee into two, the Internship Committee and the Career Development & Next Generation Committee, we think that we will allow both groups to better pursue their independent, yet coordinated, objectives more efficiently.”
The newly formed Career Development & Next Generation Committee will provide a forum to build on efforts to attract new talent to the industry and enhance coordination with the Derek Hughes/NAPSLO Educational Foundation on shared objectives.
According to Kelley, the NAPSLO Board also recently announced the formation of a Next Generation Leadership Council within the Career Development & Next Generation Committee. “The board believes that by incorporating Next Generation formally into the NAPSLO Committee framework, the refocused structure will replace the current and separate Next Generation committee structure and integrate Next Generation members into the NAPSLO committees so that they become a direct and valuable part of the Association’s work,” Kelley said.
“NAPSLO is working hard to help members do an even better job of attracting smart, new talent to our industry,” Greenebaum said. “There’s a great deal of opportunity. We just need to make sure we have the people in place to fill the pipeline.”