We find out how becoming more actively engaged with your local institute can boost your career and your confidence
Your talent deserves a wider audience. However open plan your office is, it is good to get out and move among the wider insurance and professional community. You will learn quicker and advance faster, as two young insurance professionals discovered.
"Getting on the Marsh scheme is really competitive and you're expected to progress fast," reveals graduate entrant Elizabeth Gallagher. "You immediately join the CII Diploma scheme with a target of achieving ACII within two years [which is a lot to take on so quickly]."
That target is tougher if you are on your own, as Juliusz Baranski was, although also working for NFU Mutual. "When I took the certificate course," he recalls, "it was largely managed in-house with NFU, but the diploma and ACII were much more unsupported self-study. It's a lot of work anyway, but more so when English is your second language."
For such hard-studying professionals, it can seem an intense and lonely road, giving even more reason to look up from the coursebooks occasionally and engage with your local institute.
Through Marsh, Ms Gallagher was introduced to the Insurance and Actuarial Society of Glasgow mentoring programme.
"You learn more about the industry from experienced members of the profession," she says. "You also meet other learners and share your experiences. Studying for the exams isn't easy and you can vent about it, which helps as they know what you're going through."
The Glasgow programme is quarterly and about 50 people attend its interactive events. There is a mix of mentors and mentored insurance recruits like Ms Gallagher. "A large part of the scheme focuses on soft business skills," she says, "but they are vital -- particularly for graduates, who often experience a kind of culture shock on finding themselves at work."
Local institute networking helps you meet professionals from other parts of the business. "In my case," Ms Gallagher says, "it's underwriters; it's good to meet those people informally, where you can learn about them and their roles to help you understand how to do better business".
Such visibility cannot be bought -- it is a substantial career benefit you get from engaging with the local insurance community.
Further south in Bristol, another prominent insurance city, Mr Baranski believes in the value of being seen. "For all the benefits of taking the qualifications, it is really about how well you're known," he says, "and networking can really help you to meet people in the profession beyond your normal work colleagues."
Mr Baranski also considers exposure to professionals beyond insurance a distinct benefit. "Once you become a professional [by completing the ACII], you get a lot more knowledge of course, but more importantly you become part of a group," he explains. "It shows in the wider market that you are committed to the group and to wider ethical standards."
He continues: "I think the networking and membership of the local institutes is a great platform for advancing your knowledge and for gaining recognition of your professional credentials, and that can only help [in the] long term as you look to develop your career."
Whatever stage you are at in your career, getting out from behind the desk and meeting more people through your local institute creates opportunities. The visibility is good for learning as well as for developing business relationships, and it's a massive boost to your confidence -- which definitely leads to faster career progression.
For more information, visit: cii.co.uk/fivebigwords