10 March 2022ArticleAnalysis

Nurturing the next generation: CICA is leading the way

To ensure it doesn’t become a victim of its own success, the captive insurance industry needs fresh talent. It is a rapidly growing sector—even more so since COVID-19—and it needs to ensure it has the people to meet the rising demand and fuel further growth. That’s why CICA is investing in several initiatives aimed at attracting talent—as through its College Student Essay Contest—and at helping new entrants into the industry progress and fulfil their full potential.

CICA president Dan Towle sums up the current situation, saying: “As the captive industry continues to grow, more job opportunities are created throughout our industry. At the same time, we are an aging workforce, and more professionals are preparing for retirement.

“Finding qualified talent is difficult, but not impossible. We all need to play a role in promoting the rewarding and exciting careers that are available in captive insurance.”

CICA board member Michael Zuckerman, associate professor, risk, insurance and healthcare management at Temple University, has played an active role in helping to nurture new talent in the industry—not least by helping to create the CICA College Student Essay Contest. Working with students who are the potential industry leaders of the future, he is keenly aware of the need to create clear pathways into the sector. He echoes Towle’s concerns about the aging workforce.

“Nurturing talent is especially important because the Baby Boomers are retiring, and the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the mass resignations that everyone is talking about,” Zuckerman says.

“However, I like to think of it as a mass transformation. We have an opportunity to grab some talented people looking for a new experience with new challenges. Moreover, we must nurture the students from our undergraduate and master’s level academic programs and get them interested in captive insurance, or we’re going to miss out on a lot of skilled talent that will go elsewhere.

“The time is now to reach out and build the next generation of captive insurance professionals.”

Incoming CICA board member Prabal Lakhanpal, vice president at Spring Consulting Group, is focusing on this dual challenge and opportunity. He adds that the most urgent issue is that captives as a subject matter have a lot of nuance, detail and intricacy, most of which cannot be learned from just textbooks.

As with most other industries, practical experience is a vital component of the learning experience,” he says. “Be it tax, accounting, actuarial, legal, underwriting or any other facet of the captive industry—there are many underlying complex concepts and complexities that can only truly be appreciated and understood through experience.

The urgency of nurturing and developing the next generation of talent in the industry is this need for experience. The industry needs the next generation of talent to be in place so that they can learn from current thought leaders and experts. From my perspective, the transference of knowledge is not something that can happen in a short duration and we as an industry need to prepare for those transitions or risk losing substantial intellectual capital.”

Current hurdles

“We all need to play a role in promoting the rewarding and exciting careers that are available in captive insurance.” DAN TOWLE, CICA

CICA is working to overcome two factors: old perceptions and lack of awareness.

“In general, insurance is not viewed as a ‘hot’ career choice and specific to captive insurance, we’re a smaller, lesser-known segment of the insurance industry,” notes Towle.

Zuckerman agrees. “The challenge for the insurance industry has always been selling itself as a great place to work, especially when it’s competing with stereotypical media portrayals of the industry,” he says.

“The captive insurance industry, on the other hand, has been a hidden jewel, a diamond in the rough—and young people do not even know we’re here. We must do a better job of promoting the captive insurance industry explaining why it offers a meaningful and challenging career for people who are able to think critically and solve problems.”

CICA’s solutions
CICA has taken a leadership position in rallying the industry to increase efforts to attract a robust talent pool and support professional development. Besides the essay contest, it has created its mentorship program; the Amplify Women program, which educates and supports women in the industry and creates valuable networking opportunities; partnerships with undergraduate universities and the International Center for Captive Insurance Education; and its NEXTGen initiative which, like Amplify Women, is focused on networking and career development but with a focus on prospective and new entrants to the industry.

“By offering more than just industry education, CICA’s Student Essay Contest, NEXTGen, Amplify Women, and mentorship programs are providing opportunities to network, gain social recognition and build career skills such as public speaking, committee work and more,” says Towle.

As chair, Lakhanpal is helping to drive the CICA NEXTGen initiative, which launched in 2019 as a task force envisioned by CICA and Towle.

“They brought together a group of young and experienced professionals from the industry to brainstorm how CICA may be able to support the growth and meet the needs of younger professionals in the industry,” says Lakhanpal. “Since then, the task force was recognized as a formal committee of CICA.

“NEXTGen is intended to support and develop the next generation of captive professionals. The committee strives to bring the voices of young and new professionals to the planning table to advise CICA on providing education, professional development, and networking to advance their captive careers, and ultimately advance the captive insurance industry.”

“Another major area of focus has been supporting and creating ways to attract new talent,” says Lakhanpal. “We are working towards this by pursuing a multi-pronged approach of developing educational content, hosting networking groups, speaking at schools/universities and execution of various committee agenda objectives including an internship program which will match interested employers with students looking to learn more about the captive space.”

CICA’s NEXTGen Committee has focused on finding ways to make captives resonate with the next generation, highlighting all the ways a captive can be used as a true innovation tool and discussing the technological advancements that are being seen in the industry.

CICA’s efforts include reduced conference registration rates for first timers, which allows new professionals a comfortable space to meet, network with and learn from peers across the industry. It casts a wide net in terms of educational topics, encouraging participants from varied backgrounds and functional areas to learn and interact with each other, and placing a focus on inclusion and diversity.

“The next generation of professionals want to be proud of the work they do and have a strong sense of community,” says Lakhanpal. “CICA’s efforts to provide a platform for all stakeholders has been a core tenet of its work and is greatly appreciated by the industry at large.”

He adds that CICA’s Board of Directors is a clear reflection of its intent and focus on the issues regarding the next generation of talent, noting that Zuckerman is “a phenomenal resource in helping us guide the discussions on engagement with the next generation and in supporting the development of important organizational relationships”.

CICA has a member of the NEXTGen Committee on its board—providing a forum to discuss relevant issues and aspects of relevance to the next generation of professionals.

Zuckerman is pleased with the progress made so far.

“Younger professionals are discovering that CICA’s NEXTGen group is a great way to meet people, develop a network, build knowledge, and find out what’s going on,” he says. “The NEXTGen Committee is a wonderful group to work with and I love collaborating with them.”

Lakhanpal adds that visibility provided on the CICA website, at the CICA conference and related events, and on social media have been the cornerstones for engagement with the industry at large.

“In addition, CICA has provided NEXTGen a platform to engage on relevant issues such as career development, diversity, inclusion, succession planning with the industry through virtual and in-person events,” he adds. “These have received extremely positive feedback from the industry and continue to be a staple at the conference.”

Word of mouth

“The challenge for the insurance industry has always been selling itself as a great place to work.” MICHAEL ZUCKERMAN, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

Towle hopes participants in CICA’s various programs will become the industry’s best advocates when it comes to spreading the word about the exciting opportunities it offers—and the signs are that this is working.

Karen Hsi, program manager–captive programs at the University of California Office of the President, is a prime example. She first became involved in NEXTGen at its inception, when it was a task force.

“I thought it was a good way to get to know and network with similar aged folks within the industry and it helped conferences feel less intimidating to have a ‘buddy’ or familiar face to attend sessions and networking events with,” Hsi recalls. “Slowly, this group grew to become colleagues I would go on to expand my professional and business networks, my career advocates and support system, as well as my closest friends within the industry.

“Being a part of the NEXTGen Committee has allowed me to be more actively involved with the industry, particularly CICA events and conferences, whether it be opportunities to speak on panels or planning in-person networking events.

“It not only benefits me as I continue to grow my own professional network—I feel that I’m helping others who are new in the industry to feel a sense of belonging as well. It is a way we can proactively ensure that there will be a constant flow of next-generation professionals who are energized and excited to be working in the captive insurance space.”

Hsi says her involvement with CICA’s initiatives has significantly benefited her career, enabling her to network with seasoned professionals through Amplify Women and NEXTGen joint committees.

“They have given me some very wise and sage career advice,” she says. “As I continue to grow in my role and learn in the industry, I have been able to make professional and personal connections to people who have really helped to guide choices in my career.

“I’ve been very lucky to have had opportunities to speak on panels about various topics with these esteemed colleagues and learn so much from them professionally. I cherish the long-lasting friendships with these respected colleagues that stem from some of these mentorship relationships.

“Being a part of NEXTGen, I truly feel a very strong sense of support behind my career, from members of the NEXTGen Committee or the Amplify Women Committee nominating young professionals for industry awards and advocating for your success, to having industry colleagues willing to share their stories and experiences to help guide some of your own upcoming career choices,” she adds.

Amy Evans, executive vice president, Liability Claims Division at insurer Intercare and an Amplify Women founding member, agrees that support and connections are major benefits provided by the initiative.

“It is important for women to support one another and feel supported, both personally and professionally,” she says. “It is also import for us to encourage networking and create opportunities for each other. Amplify Women provides a much-needed environment where we can help each other develop and thrive.”

With much more planned for CICA’s next-generation initiatives over the coming years, Zuckerman is certain that CICA is making a difference to the future of the industry.

“They are planning to host quarterly programmes that will include a networking opportunity,” he says. “Past sessions have had good attendance and they are looking to build on that.

“It’s my strong opinion that CICA is on the right path to build strong ties over time with the next generation of captive insurance professionals producing the skilled workforce needed to fuel the captive insurance industry’s growth.”