There is not much debate in the Surplus Lines industry about the importance of recruiting and developing new talent into the ranks. Those in the industry mostly agree that it’s a pressing need, and one that is likely to become increasingly important in coming years.
Most also agree that it’s a challenge that has to be tackled head-on and with persistence and creativity to attract the attention of today’s college students. The question of how to not only recruit and train the next generation of leaders but also how to help them leverage their potential are mounting concerns for many NAPSLO-member firms.
During the past year, NAPSLO has begun to increase its focus on these needs, and one result has been the realignment of two of the Association’s committees. In late 2015, a decision was made by the NAPSLO Board of Directors to separate the work of the Career Development and Next Generation Committee, and the Internship Committee. This group of volunteers had traditionally led the effort both in reaching out to prospective students around the country about careers in E&S and recruiting them to NAPSLO summer internships.
According to Bob Greenebaum, Co-Chair of the Internship Committee, and Executive Vice President, CRC Swett, this division of labor has improved the work of both groups. “This is important for the future of our industry, and allowing the Internship Committee to really specialize and focus on that program has improved our process already,” he says. “The NAPSLO internship is sought-after, and the process of selecting and mentoring those interns is very time-consuming and one that we take quite seriously.”
NAPSLO summer interns participate in a nine-week program. This year 17 NAPSLO college interns each spent five weeks with a NAPSLO-member Surplus Lines insurance company and four weeks with a NAPSLO-member wholesale brokerage firm. The internship lets students learn about all aspects of the industry and understand a variety of roles and career opportunities.
“Earning a NAPSLO internship is highly competitive. This opportunity is very exclusive, and these students are really the best and brightest,” says Mike Miller, Internship Committee Co-Chair and Consultant for Nationwide E&S/Specialty. “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 have careers in this industry, and it’s a terrific recruitment opportunity for both the students and hosts.”
NAPSLO interns begin their experience by participating in an orientation program in early June at the NAPSLO office. This two-day program is an opportunity for them to meet one another, gain basic knowledge about Surplus Lines and learn about the soft skills that are important for a successful internship.
“We think that the orientation program is time well spent for the students so we can better prepare them to get right to work with their host firm’s teams more immediately,” says Greenebaum. “This was the second year for this part of the program and we have received very favorable feedback from the students and their member hosts.”
After working for the summer, eight NAPSLO interns were invited to attend the NAPSLO Annual Convention this week in Atlanta. Those interns are selected based on performance reviews from their host companies and brokers as well as their assigned industry mentors. At the conference, they have opportunities to network and interact with industry professionals as well as to participate in NAPSLO’s Next Gen programs. Based on interviews with members of the Internship Committee at Convention, 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 2017 to learn more about those unique markets.
Since the internship program’s inception in 1981, Miller says it has sponsored more than 280 interns and the committee’s outreach shows that more than 50% of the former interns are currently working in the industry, with many employed by NAPSLO-member firms.
“Allowing the Internship Committee, and Career Development and Next Generation Committees the resources to independently pursue their goals and missions has been a real benefit for NAPSLO’s outreach to students,” Greenebaum says. He notes that these two committees’ work is still highly integrated and complementary, but that dedicating time and volunteers to each effort has improved the committees’ workflow and ultimately allows the organization to reach more students in more varied ways.
“NAPSLO is working hard to help members do an even better job of attracting smart, new talent to our industry,” Greenebaum adds. “There’s a great deal of opportunity, and we’re working hard to try and have the next generation of professionals in place to fill the pipeline.”