Each year The Insurance Institute gets a new National President. This year, we are delighted to announce it is Linda Gallagher, Joint Managing Director of First Ireland. In a recent interview, she spoke with Irish Broker Magazine about her background in the insurance industry and how her involvement with The Institute has supported her career. Read on for the full interview.
Over the past few years SOLAS has been doing tremendous work to continuously improve and promote apprenticeships across a wide range and variety of industries. In fact, the work undertaken by SOLAS has shaped the landscape of apprenticeships in Ireland and has managed to shift outdated perceptions with regards to apprenticeship programmes. Our CEO, Dermot Murray, recently caught up with Dr. Mary-Liz Trant, Executive Director at SOLAS to learn more about the great work she and her team are doing, and what they have planned for 2021.
Agata Pociejkowicz, an Insurance Practitioner Graduate working with Brian Mullins Insurance Brokers was recently awarded an Apprenticeship Recognition Award for the research she conducted as part of her Capstone Project. Agata chose the topic of Autonomous Cars – here we speak with her employer Brian Mullins to learn more about why he feels the Capstone project is important, and also we learn more about his experience of the apprenticeship programme. Brian Mullins, Managing Director, Brian Mullins, Insurance Brokers.
At The Insurance Institute we place a great value on hard work and achievement – we therefore felt it was important to acknowledge some of the excellent work and dedication that has been evident in the apprenticeship programme, particularly from employers.
The insurance sector is going through a period of significant and rapid change – new technology and innovations are coming on stream constantly and challenging the industry like never before. It’s a hugely exciting time with plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to embrace the future and the modernisation of the sector.
When Mary Farrell learned that the apprenticeship programme offered her the opportunity to achieve a third-level qualification, whilst working for an insurance company she jumped at the chance and couldn’t wait to sign up. Almost four years on and Mary has since graduated from the programme (with a first class honours degree).
Here Mary tells us about her experience of The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship – what the programme entailed and why it was one of the best decisions she ever made.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Mary Farrell, I am 23 years old and I graduated from The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship in 2020. In 2018 I decided I wanted to obtain a degree but I was also looking for an option whereby I could work and earn an income at the same time. A friend was already on the apprenticeship programme and she told me all about it and what a great opportunity it was. It is a three year programme whereby you work four days a week for an insurance company, with one day then devoted to online college lectures – all while being paid a competitive salary. I immediately applied to several companies and luckily got an interview with Kindlon Insurances.. The interview went well and my now employer, David Kindlon, offered me the job and I immediately accepted.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I chose to do an apprenticeship as I was keen to get into the workplace and gain real experience. The fact that I would earn a salary, and also achieve a third-level qualification was also an extremely attractive offer. I felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it ticked all the boxes for me.
What challenges have you faced and how did overcome these?
It was a challenging three years trying to juggle studying and a full time job while still trying to have a social life. The programme is definitely not for everyone – you need to stay consistently focused and work extremely hard but the end result is worth all the effort! Throughout the three years I always kept my goals in mind and I put in the work knowing that I would achieve my level 8 degree, my professional insurance qualifications and also gain vital experience. I could not have achieved my goals however without the help and support of my employer, David Kindlon, The Insurance Institute, and The Institute of Technology Sligo.
David Kindlon, had so much belief in me and he constantly reminded me that I could achieve anything I desired provided I was putting in the necessary work and staying committed. The Insurance Institute was always on hand for any queries I had in relation to up and coming insurance exams and any extra support and guidance that I might need. In relation to business exams, IT Sligo responded quickly to exam queries and my lecturers were always supportive and provided an enormous amount of guidance.
Every part of how we do business and how we work has been impacted since the start of the pandemic, including how apprentices, are hired or on-boarded. But luckily, due to innovations in technology and the agility of the insurance industry, it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to take on an apprentice and do so effectively in a remote or hybrid environment.
We’ve included some practical tips below which should help employers when taking on an apprentice, but much of these can also be applied to any new hire and should provide a solid start to ensure they hit the ground running.
Starting a new job can be overwhelming at the best of times, but throw a global pandemic and working remotely into the mix and new hires can feel on the ‘back foot’ before they even ‘set foot’ in the virtual door. We reached out to our apprentices who started the programme in 2020 to find out more about their experiences and they all agreed that the more structured the approach to their on-boarding the better. So here’s our guide to what your new hires first week should look like.
Every part of how we do business and how we work has been impacted by the pandemic – and this includes how employees, including apprentices, are hired and on-boarded. The first introductory meeting with the team will now likely take place over zoom, and catch ups over coffees have been replaced with virtual handshakes – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to take on a new hire and do so effectively. In fact, like every other aspect of the pandemic, it’s about changing the approach and looking at new ways to bridge the gap and to ensure a smooth transition.
Sitting an exam can come with a lot of stress. With all the distractions of this past year, plus moving from an exam hall to an online format, some members have reached out to say that they feel that they aren’t as prepared as they want to be.
So we asked our Member Services team to give us their advice based on what they believe are the most common errors being made, in order to help you better prepare, have an enjoyable exam experience and get the results you deserve!