Lisa McGill explains how a competency framework is developing talent at Ageas
Our profession moves at an incredible pace and the success of every insurance business hinges on the core capabilities and skills of its technical experts. For learning and development professionals working in insurance, this presents us with a challenge – how do we ensure we can offer every one of these technical experts the opportunity to continually develop their capabilities and help increase career mobility across the business?
This question became even more relevant to the Ageas talent and development team when our company announced a commitment to become smarter and faster while investing in what we call our team’s ‘standout capabilities’. The standout capabilities we needed to support were for our experts working in the areas of risk, claims, underwriting (including pricing), finance and actuarial; and our investment was to build a new development programme completely orientated to them.
We named our project the ‘Technical Heroes’ programme. We needed our heroes to have the very best tools, so our programme is designed to offer opportunities to broaden skills and career opportunities, giving these talented colleagues a straightforward path to develop themselves and explore new areas.
The start of the journey was to create a skills and behavioural competency framework for the Technical Heroes’ functions. This clearly shows the attributes required and it sits alongside the technical elements of the roles, allowing actual or aspiring role holders to identify any knowledge gaps that they need to focus on. We have made it easy for people to identify areas for development and, for the first time, opened the complete range of opportunities available to everyone holding those skills.
Knowing individuals engage with learning in different ways, we built a programme with both formal and informal training, kicking off in early 2021 with two modules of a new entry-level programme. As the name suggests, this provides technical knowledge, career guidance and support for professional qualifications, to those new to insurance.
We also launched a ‘knowledge swap’ programme, providing guidance and a structured programme to help build experience in other technical functions.
A new approach to mentoring was rolled out, too. Using our learning database, our technical heroes can see the technical skills each mentor has described in their profile and make direct contact.
For anyone interested in using their skills in a different function, the Common Technical Behavioural Framework offers them an insight into how they could transfer to other roles, opening opportunities for progression that they may never have considered.
And finally, we launched our Technical Panel events. Our first sessions covered topics ranging from data and digital, to vehicle technology. Each of these sessions had more than 70 participants and we’re building on that with more technical hot topics, ensuring our heroes have the latest insights.
Alongside starting my CII Diploma, I am using our framework to check in with the latest material, taking full advantage of the time we have been allocated every month for our personal development
As we celebrate the first birthday of the programme, we have 708 active Technical Heroes. Here are two of them.
Glen Eastwood, head of personal injury and technical claims “For me, Technical Heroes is all about using the knowledge, information and skills we each have for the broader benefit of our business. The knowledge swap programme is a great way to do this, so I’m delighted that my team has been the first to take part in a knowledge swap, with the actuarial team.
“By using the real-life example of large loss reserving, this joint team has explored the end-to-end journey of the reserving process. The team members have considered every stage, examining what’s involved and sharing ideas to solve common challenges.
“Even after this short time, the participants are noticeably more collaborative, curious and commercially astute; and I look forward to being able to offer this opportunity to more of my Technical Heroes as the project grows.”
Joy Carter, household underwriter“I can honestly say that the Technical Heroes programme has helped me achieve my goal of becoming an underwriter. I used the framework to create my development plan, while the giant library of online courses, articles and other relevant materials gave me everything I needed.
“I’m now where I want to be at this stage in my career, but my journey as a Technical Hero has only just begun. The world in which we operate is constantly changing and that means I must continue to develop too. Alongside starting my CII Diploma, I am using our framework to check in with the latest material, taking full advantage of the time we have been allocated every month for our personal development. By doing this, I know that I am always opening doors to new opportunities.”
And this is just the beginning. This year, we are opening the entry-level programme to everyone who works at Ageas, offering them the opportunity to build their technical knowledge and business acumen. We are also continuing to extend the range of training packages available for our experienced employees, investing in our best people – our Technical Heroes.
Lisa McGill is talent and development consultant at Ageas