comScoreTag
FancyBox
FancyBox

MT Opportunities

Developing leaders in challenging times

by Grace Chan

Andy Wong, human resources manager
recruitment & employee relations
Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong)
Photos: Edde Ngan
Unique training opportunities and valuable regional experiences keep budding finance professionals inspired and abreast of change

Quality young talent can be as elusive as they are mobile and versatile. This prevailing phenomenon has become a major headache for business operations of all sizes.

While some companies pay premiums to retain existing talent for the short term, the forward-looking ones step up measures to maintain a strong talent supply that is part and parcel of long-term business sustainability.

Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong) belongs to the latter group. The company has tackled this talent issue through a comprehensive two-year regional management trainee (MT) programme, which gives select trainees the chance to work in a number of the company's offices and roles around the region.

The programme starts with an induction training in Beijing, where top regional executives introduce the MTs to Zurich's corporate system and the industry in general through a series of presentations and group activities. "This opportunity for cultural exchange and networking promotes the assimilation of the new recruits into the corporate culture," explains Andy Wong, human resources manager, recruitment & employee relations, Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong).

In their last three months of training, the trainees are again taken away from the safe confines of the home office and rotated around the region. "We assign our MTs to a specific business function at one of our offices in Asia and task them with real job responsibilities," says Mr Wong, noting that last year's batch was involved in investigating motor insurance claims while working at the Taiwan operation. "Since investigations are generally conducted by claims adjusters in Hong Kong, this was a valuable learning experience for our trainees," he adds.

Learning curve

During the course of the two years, the recruits are required to undergo 21 months of intensive training, usually in the company's underwriting, claims, finance and actuarial departments.

After each job attachment, the trainees are asked to deliver presentations to senior management on their learning results. This provides the company with an assessment platform, while at the same time giving MTs the chance to learn from their superiors.

In view of the increasing significance of professional credentials and qualifications, MTs are also encouraged to take advantage of generous subsidies to study towards professional qualifications such as the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) and LOMA accreditations.

The intensive training and job rotations have proven advantageous. Not only do high-performing trainees grow personally through the process, but they may also find themselves placed on an accelerated career path.

The company's reputable Zurich Academy is another investment in the their future, offering classroom training to build leadership and business skills.

Carmen Chiu
project manager, strategic planning
Global Life Hong Kong
Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong)

On the fast track

Carmen Chiu has an accounting degree from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, but did not pick the traditional route for accounting professionals. Instead, she joined Zurich's MT programme in 2002.

"I like taking up challenges and prefer dealing with people rather than just figures on a computer screen," she says, adding that she was initially attracted by the rotational structure of Zurich's MT programme. "Three months ago, I moved across to the strategic planning division, assisting the CEO and general manager of Global Life Hong Kong to plan and execute strategic plans."

During her first attachment in the training division, Ms Chiu recalls, she developed a good understanding of the industry. Just one year on, she was assigned to become a trainer. "That really increased my confidence, as all the trainees were insurance agents with years of work experience," she reflects.

Her next rotation was to the investment service division, where she developed her marketing skills and knowledge of different types of insurance investment tools.

Almost immediately upon completion of the MT programme, Ms Chiu was charged with helping to establish the company's New Advisor Development Centre, a centralised platform for recruiting and training advisers. "This model was a first for the insurance industry and I'm proud to be part of it," she says.

Zurich offers MTs plenty of learning opportunities to match their individual career aspirations, Ms Chiu stresses. "It's a tough and challenging programme, and trainees should exercise flexibility and grab all their chances."

Angus Chan

Qualification
Anthropology
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Current position
Senior Officer, strategic programme, Global Life Hong Kong

MT batch
2008

Enrolment reasons
- Job rotation arrangement
- Zurich's international reputation

Best experience
"After my placement in Singapore, I was involved in an Asian development project that gave me insights of the market potential of the region and convinced me that my career is not restricted to Hong Kong."

Top rewards
"The rotational on-the-job training was tough, since we were expected to learn and contribute within a very short period of time. However, the training was inspiring and effective. This has helped me to build a solid foundation."

Advice
"Volatility on the global economic landscape brings many new challenges to the industry. Insurance professionals therefore have to be flexible and adaptable to deal with change."

Rachel Than

Qualification
BBA (operations management)
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Current position
Underwriter, corporate and commercial strategic business unit

MT batch
2008

Enrolment reasons
- Overseas opportunities

Best experience
"I had the chance to apply my academic knowledge on operations management in a real business context. For me as a fresh graduate, this was an invaluable opportunity to learn the ropes."

Top rewards
"I was quickly given the chance to work hands-on and learn the nuts and bolts of different business divisions. For instance, in my current role in the corporate and commercial unit, my skills have expanded from basic premium collection to customer management."

Advice
"The insurance industry is closely connected with the global economy. Developing strong business acumen will enable you to react to developments in the sector."

Mike Chow

Qualification
Actuarial studies
The Australian National University
Current position
Regional management trainee

MT batch
2010

Enrolment reasons
- Varied job exposure
- Overseas placement

Best experience
"I met with other MTs from across the region during the induction training in Beijing. It was a memorable time, since we all supported and learnt from each other."

Top rewards
"Just two months after joining the programme, I'm already working on several projects that require more than just textbook knowledge. I'm also learning to adapt to the working styles of different colleagues and respect the strengths of the individuals."

Advice
"Success in the fast-paced insurance industry is all about change and speed to market. Only people that can respond to the market dynamics creatively can become leaders in this field."

Taken from Career Times 24 September 2010, A11

Share


Free Subscription

Email