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Igniting Next Gen: Passing the Torch - Addressing the Talent Gap in Risk & Insurance

By Alliant Specialty

How does the industry attract, train and retain the next generation to pursue careers in risk and insurance? Eric Seaborg and Karen Caterino, Alliant, cover the varied and rewarding job opportunities that are available, and how to get started with your own career growth and development.

Intro (00:01):
You're listening to a special episode of In the Public Eye podcast, a show dedicated to exploring risk management topics and challenges faced by today's public sector leaders with your host today, Eric Seaborg.

Eric Seaborg (00:17):
Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of In the Public Eye podcast. I'm Eric Seaborg from the public entity education and pooling team. Today I'm joined by my colleague, Karen Caterino, also from public entity education at pooling. Welcome, Karen.

Karen Caterino (00:33):
Excited to be here. Thanks, Eric.

Eric Seaborg (00:35):
Karen has an extensive background working as a risk manager, consultation sales leader, innovative program developer client team manager. So, she is an experienced colleague of mine. And I wanted to start chatting with Karen about this interesting topic, which happens to be a strong passion of yours, which is career opportunities in insurance and risk management. So why this topic?

Karen Caterino (01:01):
Yeah, I'm glad you asked. Well, I think there's really some urgency when it comes to insurance within the next 15 years, the US Chamber predicts there'll be 400,000 open jobs. I mean, literally, there are 10,000 baby boomers, turning 65 every day until the year 2030. So, the reason I say all that, is there’s great opportunity to work in this field and this is why I'm so passionate about it. Even in your opening, you talked about my background. There are so many things that you can do from a career perspective in risk management and insurance. It's why I'm so passionate about it. It's such a multifaceted field. And I would say what we as an industry would hopefully try and do better is not necessarily sell insurance as a career but promote the opportunity to help people and be consultative and work in the risk management insurance industry. So, why I'm so passionate about it as well as I have a 19-year-old daughter who still looks at me and says, "I don't understand what you do for a living, Mom." So, I would say it's even on me to do a better job of talking about the great career opportunities in the field that we're lucky to get to work

Eric Seaborg (02:14):
In. Yeah. That's and that's interesting. So, let's, let's go back into the past a little bit because you and I talk about this offline all the time and that's the earlier generations. I'm interested in you. How did things start for you in this field?

Karen Caterino (02:31):
Well, I think anybody that's usually in this field will tell you they always fell into it. I would probably say I'm the same way. What I look at it is more of just, it's a variety of roles. I started as a paralegal. I then went into working for a health plan in marketing, to working for a city, and then state government as a risk manager and in benefits to sales opportunities in the pharmacy benefit world of workers comp. It's just so multifaceted. I think it's really exciting that you have those opportunities and really more of a lattice approach as opposed to a latter approach to my career development. I've been very fortunate to have worked in a variety of roles that are all very exciting. And so, I think that's like, you, it's just, I don't know that I went in with a purpose, but when I got here each time I've been purposeful about my steps and where I go throughout that.

Eric Seaborg (03:33):
There were very few women and minorities and risk management at the time, at least when I started. And so, from your perspective, and I have a daughter also, and I know you do. And how challenging was it for you being, let's talk from the perspective of gender and being a woman in this field.

Karen Caterino (03:51):
I would say I was fortunate that I had great role models. I had a grandmother who ran her own business and, a mother who had a very, stoic career with Target of all things. And so for me, having those confident women in my life really instilled a bit of that confidence in me too. And I think continuing to pursue your education and staying current with certifications and things also really help build confidence. And when you're a woman and you are confident about what you do and you have the knowledge that you can go and talk to your clients, or when you're presenting, it really helps. I think as a woman in this field, having that kind of background has really just helped me. And it certainly instills a sense of confidence in me as I move forward throughout my career. Um, and also really am impressed with the diversity equity initiatives that are now really being adopted by corporations. Rightfully so and probably long overdue. But I think that that's really also helping pave the way for women in careers and risk management insurance.

Eric Seaborg (04:58):
Yeah, and so if we come up to today talking about today and where we are currently we're dealing with that reality of COVID and COVID of course affected the staffing around the nation and all different companies, all shapes and sizes. What I want to learn from you, the impact you think that's having on the insurance and risk management industry today impacts from that as an occupation, but also companies that need that help and that support.

Karen Caterino (05:29):
You talked about COVID obviously being one that nobody expected, and I would say some results of it have been, excessive boomer, baby boomer, retirements. They actually doubled in 2020. Part of this also is automation. If you think about, when you go to the checkout at the grocery store, now, how many more automated machines there are versus people, even opioids is a headwind. Unfortunately, a lot of drug overdose deaths in the past year due to COVID and of course then childcare, um, being a challenge. So, there are certainly headwinds overall, I think when it comes to, um, to careers, but where I say there's some great opportunity is here in risk and insurance, I would say it's probably one of the most recession, depression of proof businesses. There is in our fields and of course, had to move to work from home.

A lot of the staff we work with and colleagues we work with and clients we work with all had to move to work from home, but we kept working and I see where next gen is very helpful in this is their embracement, their digital natives, what I call digital natives, they've grown up understanding and knowing and working with computers, phones, everything, and they're very efficient. And so that's, to me, opportunities for us to really leverage their mindsets and their skillsets to help us in insurance, to make us a little bit more efficient. You know, there's a lot of things we still maybe do on spreadsheet that we don't need to anymore. It's leveraging artificial intelligence to help us be better at predictive analytics. It’s really leveraging IT folks to help us determine if there's systems that we can better communicate, whether that be with our clients or the carriers or the underwriters and people we work with. So to me, I see there's great opportunity getting a lot of the next gen involved in what we do, not even in traditional roles, in risk and insurance, but really more adoption of automation and things that we could do better.

Eric Seaborg (07:37):
Yeah. And you eluded to this earlier about the blending of generations, where it's important that what we're not emphasizing here is that it's all going to be technology going forward and anything in the past and the history and the knowledge that people have had and who have trained us and educated us. There's a good blend of bringing that in. So what's the traction or the training, that companies have to think about in regards to retaining these workers or enhancing or building their workforce to make it competitive.

Karen Caterino (08:11):
Yeah. Imagine this, we really literally have five generations working the workforce currently, you know, from the baby boomers all, all the way down to the gen Zs or millennials that are just starting their careers and believe it or not. Now there's a new gen A. They're still under the age of twenties, so they're pretty young yet, but it's really embracing and understanding those generational differences. So Eric, where you and I maybe, you know, on, the other trajectory side of our careers, that doesn't mean what we, provide or give back to this industry in terms of expertise and knowledge and experience goes away. I mean I think one of the hardest things potentially about this industry is the steep learning curve. You know learning claims, learning insurance, learning underwriting, learning actuary.

It's not a day, it's not a month. It's not a year. It's probably a three to five-year career path, if not longer, or so for next gen who typically like to switch jobs or roles or careers every three years, that's the difficult side, you know, you get them up to speed learning what we're doing, and they may go to work somewhere else, or they may decide they don't like this. So, one of the benefits of our business is the fact that there are so many areas they could go into, even with a company like ours, Alliant, where they can start an act as an actuary. They could start as a broker, they could start as a client manager. And then if that's not really a career where they're feeling like this is what I want to do the rest of my life, well, let's keep, them, let's try them in a different role within the organization.

And I think whether you're a carrier claims or whatever facet it is that supports the industry that you're working in insurance you can do that, and the companies should really think about that. So, it's really leveraging their older talent mature. I like to say it's step older, but leveraging their mature talent to say, how can you mentor and really help these individuals develop into the roles that you're in. So mentoring is a big key to this, and its really succession planning as well. But I think before you even go down that road, it's really understanding that your generational differences mean people are coming at the roles in varying places from their media consumption to their banking habits, to things that shape them. You know, some of us are going through two recessions. The 2009 and now with COVID, whereas, the youngest generation, they haven't experienced that.

So, it's really kind of understanding some of the motivational factors of what that generation likes and how, and the framework from which they come from, in terms of communication, I think is also key. So, whereas you or I can get on the phone call each other, you know, I know my daughter prefers to really text her and that's how they communicate or Snapchat. So, it's understanding, and there you go, when you come look at disruptors and insurance and in insure tech is a great example that they're now trying to go direct to consumer, whether it be for your personal lines of insurance coverages, or if you just want to ensure your skis for the, when you go up to ski at a ski resort. I mean, there's really some cool things that are coming out of the fact that I think the younger generation brings in a different mindset of how they look at insurance purchase insurance, or even how they think about insurance.

Eric Seaborg (11:52):
This is really an introductory discussion we're having today because your real brainchild is developing a new series for Alliant for the Public Eye podcast about why this generation and the generations to follow why they may want to consider these career opportunities or this potential in the industry of an insurance and risk management. Want to give me a little overview of what you're envisioning right now for the next episodes down the road.

Karen Caterino (12:20):
Yeah, I'd love to. So, I think a lot of what we don't do a good job of is identifying all the wonderful multifaceted career opportunities that are in this field. So, I'd like to over the next year is really interview people that are developing, careers in risk and insurance. And that's for example, in university programs, our own university of Nevada Reno, here in, in Reno, Nevada, where I reside is just starting. It's risk and management insurance program. So, we will be having their director on the podcast to interviewing folks that, I know this sounds really simple, but what is a risk manager? What is a work comp claims manager? What is an underwriter? What is an actuary? What is a wholesaler? So we'll start a little podcast around each of those topics. So, people get to hear firsthand from folks that, uh, do that for a living. And then also talking about maybe some emerging trends and shaping events of what's occurring from a disrupter perspective in insurance and where we can leverage the millennial talent to help us get there.

Eric Seaborg (13:36):
I'm excited. And I really want to thank you for spending the time with me today. It's an interesting topic.

Karen Caterino (13:42):
My daughter will tune it.

Eric Seaborg (13:44):
Mine too. And, we'll look forward to that next episode.

Outro (13:51):
Thank you for listening.


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