May 5, 2021 by Adam Malik
Global events have delayed the career development of young insurance professionals and the P&C industry needs to figure out how to help, risk manager execs said during the recent RIMS Live 2021 virtual conference.
Colleen Zitt, chief risk officer at Zurich North America, referred to the affected group of young insurance pros as the ‘pandamennials’ — a combination of the words ‘pandemic’ and ‘Millennials.’ This cohort is facing stalled — and maybe even shrinking — career opportunities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
What’s more, we’re only a decade or so removed from the global financial recession that saw a number of companies take significant hits. So, depending on their age, a segment of the industry’s professionals may have missed out not only on career opportunities during the early stages of their careers, during the recession, but also now, due to COVID-19.
Companies have a responsibility to ensure Pandamennials don’t feel disillusionment, Zitt said during RIMS Live 2021.
“It’s really important to think about it from that business context of how we actually respond to what the youth are going through today, and going back to that sense of responsibility,” she said during the session Global Risks 2021: A Vision for the Future.
“I know this group is coming off of the lingering effects of the financial crisis from 2008. But at the same time, many are graduating from college and actually entering what’s called an employment Ice Age as the result of COVID with…[the] shuttering [of] businesses and loss of jobs.”
As a result, the typical starting points of a career don’t exist in the same way as they used to, Zitt added.
Jeffrey Bray, head of global risk management at Prologis, a real estate investment trust company, agreed with Zitt. Even for established or senior professionals, it’s a challenge to maintain the same level of emotional resilience on a day-to-day basis that is being expected of the younger workforce who are still trying to find their footing within the industry.
“That is much more challenging for the age group that you’re talking about,” he told Zitt.
Bray hoped the pandemic will build up the resiliency of younger insurance professionals. The theory is that if they can look back once the COVID-19 pandemic is over and realize they were able to make it through, they will know they can make it through any other challenges coming their way.
“Because there are going to be new opportunities, I think it can be very exciting as well,” he said of their career prospects.
Young people do have some advantages: They have the knowledge and skills required of today’s insurance professionals; also, they are quick-learners. Those who “fell into” the insurance industry many years ago don’t have the same specialized skillset.
“What you need today is completely different [than 15-20 years ago],” Bray said. “I’m not sure I’d be up to a task today from a data analytics perspective and otherwise. I think that can be actually very exciting. I think our industry as a whole offers a lot of opportunities particularly as we see who’s retiring and that real gap there that we need to fill with talent.”
Feature image by iStock.com/courtneyk