Training the future
As every re/insurance executive knows, training and recruitment are essential to the future of any company, and few firms are more proactive in this area than Validus Re and AXIS Capital.
Jeff Clements, chief executive officer of Validus Re, says the reinsurer has had a dynamic student programme since 2008 and is committed to recruiting talent in Bermuda. More than a dozen alumni of the student programme have joined the company since it started, entering a range of departments from IT to operations and finance. In addition, the initiative has fostered a strong network across the community.
Building on the success of its summer courses, Validus Re now hosts students all year round via a partnership with Bermuda College, focused on IT talent, and invites work experience students to visit throughout the school year. Then there is the Validus Scholarship, which provides bursaries and financial support for full-time undergraduate degrees at accredited universities.
According to Clements, Validus Re will always be committed to helping Bermuda’s students achieve their educational and professional aspirations. To this end, its student programme takes a holistic approach to student development, combining financial support and practical experience. Summer students engage in meaningful work alongside their host departments, and weekly seminars are held to introduce students to Validus Re’s business and the industry.
Help for existing employees
Besides supporting students, Clements says that Validus Re is committed to investing in its people. He says staff are encouraged to enhance their skills, knowledge and experience at every career stage, with the aim of enabling peak performance in their role and advancing their career.
Training programmes, both internal and external, and development plans are available to support technical skills, soft skills, management and leadership development. The company offers what Clements describes as “comprehensive support” for academic qualifications and professional designations that are relevant to its business.
“We are dedicated to providing the learning and development that Validus Re team members need, when they need it,” says Clements. “We recognise that the skills and knowledge of our colleagues are important to the success of the organisation and that training benefits both the individual and the company.
“Validus Re encourages professional development so that colleagues can maintain and improve job-related skills or ensure they are strong candidates for career advancement. Developing local Bermuda talent represents a commitment to the Bermuda community and economy.”
As Clements points out, Validus Re is active in the community in various ways, including a committee that contributes to dozens of local charities, focusing on youth development, the community, arts, education and more. Staff are also offered paid time away from the office to volunteer in local causes.
Invest to grow
Like Validus Re, AXIS Capital takes training and recruitment extremely seriously.
Amanda Seidler, the firm’s senior vice president and global head of talent, says great emphasis is placed on investing in staff and helping them grow their careers.
Seidler thinks that a career in re/insurance is a rewarding fit for a person seeking a global and dynamic role, with the added potential of solving very real social and economic issues.
She adds that AXIS’s leaders have become fantastic ambassadors in helping new talent learn more about the industry, attending campus events and open-dialogue learning sessions across the company’s global locations, and this has become a major advantage in the recruitment market.
“All of this knowledge exchange is fantastic,” Seidler says. “I am quite excited about one of our upcoming endeavours—to create collaborative tools and systems for our colleagues to realise continuous growth and quality relationships across teams, learn about different areas of expertise and network across our global offices.
“This helps us both attract and retain talent. For example, it enables people sitting in Bermuda—or New York, London, Singapore for that matter—to develop strong relationships across the company, learn from colleagues across the world, and share their distinctive perspectives. This approach also helps spread ideas and insights further across our company, and brings diverse voices and viewpoints into our work—all of which benefits both AXIS and our clients and partners.”
Spreading the talent net
Asked what programmes and schemes AXIS has created, Seidler says that the company is committed to investing in people and helping them grow their careers, and as a result it is implementing many programmes to attract a diverse array of talent.
Through AXIS Academy, the company has launched a pilot development programme for recent graduates new to the re/insurance industry. Participants in the development programme rotate across different business units over two years. The aim is that participants will share their fresh perspectives with their colleagues, and likewise absorb crucial information about the industry.
Seidler explains that AXIS Academy includes a global internship programme as well as AXIS Experts, a bimonthly online series that invites market authorities to discuss relevant subjects, sharing their knowledge with colleagues across the company. Another initiative, AXIS Careers, provides both formal and informal mentoring, providing employees with a robust toolkit while providing colleagues across all generations with a platform to swap tips and advice, further expanding and developing the talent pool.
Seidler says it is crucial for both AXIS and the wider industry to recruit and nurture emerging talent, adding that people investment is a top priority at her firm.
“We’re actively recruiting on college campuses with a goal to help students understand the different careers within re/insurance,” she says. “AXIS seeks digitally savvy, creative and analytical minds; such talent can influence the way we do business early in a career and have an immediate impact.
“We want to show students that a career in re/insurance provides opportunities to influence the world in dramatic, purposeful ways, ranging from protecting renewable energy innovations to enabling space travel entrepreneurs, to rebuilding economies after catastrophes.”
“Re/insurance can provide a global career immediately, which is attractive to many applicants,” says Seidler.
“However, as a whole, the industry must create broader awareness about the fundamental role of re/insurance in the economy and its purpose-driven nature.”
To strengthen its employee proposition and face the future, Seidler adds, AXIS is experimenting with new ways of working, including virtual teams that connect the right people, regardless of location, to experiment, take risks and develop new products and solutions for clients.
“As we look to leverage new skillsets for new programmes, it’s still combined with a strong grounding in industry knowledge and subject matter expertise, which is one way that our subject matter experts can greatly help our emerging talent,” Seidler concludes.
“We’re committed to helping new talent learn and appreciate that the risk and re/insurance industry provides a career that is meaningful and purposeful, and plugged into a globally-connected, rapidly changing business world. This is what we have to offer.”