For the past five years I have had the privilege of serving the Insurance Institute of Gauteng (IIG) in an educational capacity, first as a co-opted councillor, then as the councillor responsible for the education portfolio and finally as an education ambassador.
In so doing, I inherited quite a legacy. The IIG was formed in 1911 as the Insurance Institute of the Transvaal. It was created as a forum for insurance professionals to connect, engage, contribute, socialise – and, most importantly, learn. The founding members understood the necessity for continuing professional development (CPD), long before that term was even coined or CPD became a statutory requirement.
The IIG’s raison d’être remains exactly the same today, 110 years later. The great thing is that the education that it offers its members is still provided, voluntarily, by its members.
Certainly, insurers and intermediaries themselves also provide industry education to their employees, but this tends to be technical and product-related. What agile industry bodies such as the IIG can provide through education is complementary, and no less important: a focus on current industry challenges, future trends and evolving business risks.
Effective education for our industry, therefore, comprises a combination of topics – but also a combination of methods: theoretical, practical and, perhaps most crucially, mentorship. Large organisations often provide learner-management training, but it’s essential for professionals to know what industry bodies can also do for them in terms of skills development.
When people join an organisation, they’re frequently thrown in the deep end and most times it’s a sink-or-swim scenario. Personal mentorship, for me, is important to get newcomers engaged and interested in a career in insurance. They must be encouraged to join industry bodies and feel connected to the industry. Mentoring events, such as those provided by bodies like the IIG, create a platform for networking and feeling like one is part of a larger family.
The COVID-19 lockdown, of course, has blunted those physical connections somewhat; webinars just don’t allow for interpersonal contact as well as face-to-face encounters do. However, the positive feedback is still there, so we know we’ve been delivering relevant content.
I am proud to say that the IIG’s education team has taken the challenges of the lockdown in their stride, and we have continued to provide our members with the learning support they need to grow and get ahead in the insurance industry. We have wonderful people who are always willing to share their knowledge and skills, and I’m exceptionally proud that we’ve been able to deliver the IIG’s education programme in such uncertain times – ensuring that our members can still learn and earn CPD points.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in the education portfolio at the IIG. I believe in paying it forward, in passing on knowledge to the newer generations of insurance professionals. I believe passionately in, as past IIG president Carla Jordan put it, driving insurance as a career of choice, not chance. Education plays a vital role in helping to create an industry that people want to be in.
Education is a tool with which we can lift ourselves out of poverty and contribute to our families, society, and our economy. Education improves the professionalism of our industry; business evolves constantly, and new risks arise, so we have to keep abreast of these new exposures. There is no better way to learn than from your peers.
Continuously developing your professional self, which is, in any event, an industry requirement, is thus key not only for your career but also for our industry; the better you are at what you do, the better the industry is, too. So if you’re not already a member of your regional or national industry association, I urge you to sign up today.
By Daphne Peter - Head of Hollard Alternative Risk Transfer, Hollard Insure