Before committing to a course, we appreciate how important it is to consider your options properly, so we asked Lisa Rowe, BA CIP, Marsh, to keep a journal of her experiences of her first seven weeks as she started her studying journey with us for The Higher Diploma in Insurance Management (MDI). Here are her thoughts ...
When looking to take that next step in your career, it is beneficial to select a qualification not only focused on your chosen area of development but one that has a strong focus on practical skills and is also recognised and valued within your industry.
Lisa takes us through the various stages, details of her experience and an insight into what has been expected from her in terms of study, reading, and planning for assignments in those early days and weeks.
Undertaking the Higher Diploma in Insurance Management (MDI) was something that I had been interested in doing for a long time but what really spurred me on was the new accreditation – the fact there is now a level 8 attached to the programme is valuable and a hugely attractive proposition. I recently changed positions into a more senior role at Marsh and I felt the time was right to upskill having completed my CIP exams in 2017.
Marsh has been very supportive of me undertaking this qualification. As an employer they have a strong focus on staff continuing to enhance their skills through ongoing personal and professional development. As Marsh have a study supports programme in place with the Institute, it was very straightforward to enrol on the programme. After a short conversation with HR to advise that I would like to start the exams, I logged into the member area and selected Marsh as my employer – and the Institute’s system sends the request directly to them to approve the funding.
My textbook arrived within the first week (although I had access to the online version straight away) and I began reading it as soon as it arrived. The online induction was extremely helpful and covered everything from studying to assessment methods. For me, this was great, especially to know that there is no negative marking in place, unlike the CIP exams.
The pass mark is 65% which is higher than most of our previous insurance exams (mirroring the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)), which is important to be aware of, but this is an advanced qualification, so it was not a shock. There is also a new mixed assessment style that students will need to bear in mind and get used to as they progress through the course.
My first task in this early stage was to work on drafting up my weekly study plan (using the handy template that the Institute provided) along with looking forward to my first online session where I meet the faculty and the other students.
I was impressed from the very start with the obvious thought that went into the layout and accessibility of the programme, along with the usefulness of the content, which, from my initial reviews, seems relevant. This is positive and shows consideration is given to the busy lifestyle of the modern working student.
Week 2 through 7
I must be completely honest and admit that I missed our introduction lesson as I was away on business. I did, however, manage to catch up later that week as the recording was uploaded after the session, which was extremely helpful as it allowed me to review the session at a time that suited me and to take notes. It would have been much more beneficial to attend in person and have the opportunity to ask questions as they came to mind, but this is the challenge when trying to balance work with study - which the Institute has given great consideration to.
Following my initial focus on planning, I turned my attention to The Quitch App. This is new to the programme and was added as a result of the overwhelmingly positive feedback from CIP students when it was launched in 2020. It is free to download, and I found that it’s a very useful tool. There are a lot of ‘test yourself’ chapter quizzes which help give you a steer as to how much information you have retained, and more importantly, it allows you to gauge how much more study you will need to do. There is also the added bonus of a leader board for the more competitive students, a good motivational tactic!
The Study Guide provided by the Institute is proving useful at this stage in my study also, as it gives you a framework to ensure you are progressing through the material at the correct pace, ensuring that you are at the correct stage of the book/coursework assignment relative to the duration of the course term remaining.
Our first lecture was brilliant and well attended with approx. 30 participants logging in. After a couple of Zoom teething pains (the joys of remote learning!), the lecturer, Philip Fagan, was able to kick off with what was a very interesting and informative lecture. Philip, who works for the National Treasury Management Agency, has a real understanding of what practical skills are needed for success in both the course and beyond. He guided us through the chapter of the book on the Law of Torts, which was intense, but he made it interesting and informative. Philip has a wealth of knowledge and kept the class engaged by asking questions as we went along and provided good examples from case law and his own case experience.
We finished up at 9.30 pm - which was a long day after a full day’s work, but it was a good first session and worth attending.
It’s worth noting that the Institute has some excellent support content online, such as chapter-specific webinars to help with self-guided learning, along with key points and notes on each chapter and quizzes to test your knowledge – this all helps to consolidate knowledge and means students have a variety of learning methods they can choose from to keep them engaged and motivated.
At this stage, I am making reasonable progress with my studies, but I do need to knuckle down on the coursework assignment. My main stumbling block at the moment is keeping consistent with my learning as work is very busy and I also sit on the Board of a charity (which keeps me on my toes); however, I have found blocking out times in the diary to allocate to undisturbed study and putting devices on ‘do not disturb’ has been helpful.
So, is it worth it?
So far, I would say yes! The application process was straightforward, in much the same way as the CIP exams. The method of applying (for me anyway) is quite similar. The programme also allows you to gain credits towards your ACII (through the CII in the UK) if you choose to pursue that path of study. In my case, as I now work for Marsh London and I am a Lloyd’s broker, this is a key differentiator as I plan on embarking on the ACII exams once I have completed my Higher Diploma in Insurance Management.
Of course, there is a lot expected of you as a student, but this is an advanced qualification, so that should not come as a shock. The Institute has put a lot of thought and consideration into the flexibility, format, and accessibility of supports and content to make it as straightforward as possible for students to manage the pressures of full-time work with studying.
The rest is down to me.