It’s been a long road to reach the finals of The Insurance Apprentice 2019, the reality show-style competition for young insurance professionals, but finally the top eight contestants have met for the first time.
The eight – Palesa Mochane (Hollard), Colin Lunsky (HTI Insurance Brokers), Ditebogo Mokgalabone (Chubb), Gillian Riley (Santam), Jake Pennacchini (MUA Insurance Acceptances), Kishan Vanmali (Marsh), Mitesh Lakha (Discovery Insure) and Reese Aron (Marsh) – gathered at Hollard’s Villa Arcadia for their profile shoot today. (Hollard is a Gold sponsor of The Insurance Apprentice.)
“Today is about your brand,” they were told by Rianet Whitehead, editor of FAnews, which stages the annual competition. Whitehead coached the finalists on how to put their best foot forward for their video profiles, which play an important part in how they are perceived by the competition’s audience.
They were also provided with some valuable tips by the 2018 winner, Nox Dlamini, who advised them to “be absolutely yourself” and take the competition seriously.
“It’s completely up to you how you portray yourself,” she said, “and that depends on what you want to get out of the competition.”
Keith Bester, who was a finalist for Hollard in the 2017 series, echoed Nox’s sentiments. He also shared a few experiences that live on on the Internet – and still make him cringe.
The eight were addressed by Andries Wiese, head of Hollard Insure’s Agri team, who schooled them on the world of agricultural insurance.
It was a steep learning curve for these confirmed city slickers, who were soon awash in interesting facts – such as that the agri sector is worth around R3.5-billion in premium, that farmers use technology that’s years ahead of what the rest of us have, and that they’re also very smart, with 62% boasting tertiary qualifications.
Then it was time for two group tasks, which would test just how much attention the contestants had paid …
Split into two groups, they were first presented with a deck of cards; in the deck were 11 agri insurance sectors, and a host of agri-focused policy extensions – including ones that one won’t find in other insurance classes, such as “attack by wild dogs and animals”. The groups then had to figure out which extensions fitted with each sector.
Then the groups were led onto the verandah, where Hollard’s two CowParade fibreglass cow sculptures (which are normally to be spotted on the lawns below the villa) stood.
Armed with large sticky notes and marker pens, they then had to recall as many facts as they had been given as possible, write them down and festoon their cows with the notes.
The judging was strict, focusing on how creatively the cows were decorated as well as the sticky notes facts.
At the end of the second task, the overall scores were totted up – only for the groups to be tied on 46 points apiece. Andries then came up with a suitably agricultural sudden-death question: of “Champion Senior Udder” and “Champion Old Cow” categories (which both exist), which is most likely to be found at a dairy cow show?
The group comprising Gillian, Ditebogo, Mitesh and Jake chose udder over old – and triumphed.
It was a fun morning, and the group of finalists clearly hit it off. But all’s fair in love and The Insurance Apprentice, and now the gloves will come off for the competition proper. As Rianet put it, “I don’t want you to be friends.”