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Filling The Talent Pool

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The industry is facing a talent shortage. Esther Klesse, head of International Reinsurance Operations at Liberty Mutual Re, outlines how the company is creating an international talent pool.

The (re)insurance sector is being transformed by new fintech disruptors, the digital revolution – accelerated by the pandemic – and risks that are changing constantly.

Clients are demanding a high level of expertise, agility, flexibility and tailored, innovative solutions. Attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent has never been more important.

Building a talent pipeline is as much a part of a company’s success as a good business strategy, but the insurance industry is struggling to attract, retain and develop the leaders of tomorrow.

The insurance industry is struggling to attract, retain and develop the leaders of tomorrow.
Esther Klesse, head of International Reinsurance Operations, Liberty Mutual Re
Esther Klesse_Day 1.jpg

It’s a well-known fact that the current generation of industry leaders is on the verge of retirement, meaning there is likely to be an exodus of knowledge and experience from our sector. It remains to be seen whether the enforced change to people’s work/life balance over the past 18 months will affect that exodus.

The industry also has a long-standing image problem, which has made it difficult to attract young people. It isn’t most people’s first choice of career, as they immediately think about car, home, and pet insurance rather than the global, problem-solving and entrepreneurial industry it really is.

The industry is also blighted by bad news stories when claims aren’t paid. All this means the industry has an uphill struggle to attract the brightest and best young people.

New Generation of Leaders Needed

It’s clear that the industry urgently needs a new generation of high-quality employees with the potential, skills and creativity needed to help in the industry’s transformation to covering client’s intangible assets rather than their tangible ones, as in the past.

At Liberty Mutual Re, we are taking on the challenge of recruiting and retaining international talent through our apprenticeship and graduate schemes, backed by career coaching, leadership drop-ins, and international placements, among other initiatives.

The benefit for us of offering school leavers apprenticeships is that we take young people at the start of their careers, allowing us to share our core values with them. They soon adapt to working internationally and they overcome any worries about speaking a foreign language. It’s a great starting point for their career, whether they go on to university or stay with the company to become future industry professionals.

We have set up global focus groups for employees, to better understand their career aspirations and expectations. We put a lot of effort into making sure we really understand what’s important to them and how we can best meet their expectations.

We also have a flexible two-year graduate programme of on-the-job training and structured learning to provide a strong foundation for a career. We offer them the opportunity to round out their education with practical experience and the opportunity to work in international placements, while ensuring we develop our future leaders.

Keeping It Fresh

Employees can raise questions directly to the executive team at drop-in sessions. There are also career development coaching sessions with external coaches, and a mentoring scheme that benefits both employees and senior leaders, who get a different perspective and insight into how others perceive the business.

Our job rotation scheme to support networking is open to everyone, offering a couple of months with a different team, doing different jobs or working in another location.

We’re also in the process of creating a virtual Monte Carlo meeting that allows employees to come together randomly, so that they never know who their chat partner might be. This helps compensate for what they are missing while not being in the office, and helps our staff to build a global network, while improving international collaboration.

Lunch and Learn sessions are a lighter-touch approach, allowing employees to attend a one-hour session to learn about different business lines and aspects of the company. These sessions are designed to showcase the diverse nature of the business, where we hope they will learn something new. It’s a great way of showing employees that we are living in a dynamic world, and it helps them understand what’s going on in the rest of the organisation.

We have also set up a central database of people’s skillsets. We’ve grown in recent years and this helps us find the right expertise to help solve a problem, whether that’s a reinsurance-related issue or finding someone who speaks a certain language. Employees give consent to have their skills recorded and to be contacted when others in the organisation need support.

Ensuring Future Success

We have put all these processes in place because we are aware that the success we’ve built won’t continue unless we can pass that knowledge on to the next generation, so that they can be as ambitious as those who laid the foundations of the company’s early success. The reinsurance industry will be different in five or ten years, which means our job will change and new, exciting challenges will face us.

Above all, we need people with the right values, education, and skills.

Yes, we need technology, but above all, we need people with the right values, education, and skills – a group that understands success can only be achieved through efficient collaboration. Talent isn’t limited to a specific group of employees – it applies to young people as well as existing employees. We foster and encourage talent across the whole life cycle of working life.

The end objective of all our efforts is to create an environment at Liberty Mutual Re where everyone who has the desire to be entrepreneurial will feel at home.

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