By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance«
John R. Phelps, president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc., is on a mission to attract the next generation of risk managers to the profession.
He knows that persuading bright, young college graduates to actually want to become risk managers won't be easy. Not because of any inherent flaws in the profession, but because the profession has to communicate its value and sell itself to talented young graduates who, just out of school, consider multiple offers from other firms in the industry, and from employers in other industries outright.
"We need to be able to communicate with the younger men and women who might be considering a risk management career," he said.
How true. Better yet, though, the industry needs to sell itself, give young talent a way to join the risk management ranks, and then reach out and grab the fresh, young grads before the recruiters from banking, investment houses or alternative forms of financial services swoop onto campus and skim off the cream of the crop.
The cream of the crop these days might include a young broker by the name of Tammy Mission, 25, who nearly four years ago took a job with Heffernan Insurance Services in Walnut Creek, Calif. Mission, who comes from a family of small business owners, but none in the insurance industry, said she generally finds the industry "antiquated."
There's a lot of room for the industry to be more creative and efficient. "Some of my frustrations with the industry is that we duplicate a lot of effort," said Mission, who sometimes resorts to Facetime to discuss employment practices liability coverage with clients.
Insurance brokers, underwriters and insureds communicating via fax machines in an age of electronic instant messaging, document signatures, search engines like Google and social media sites like LinkedIn, betray a huge technology gap, Mission said.
Phelps, elected RIMS president for 2013, started in insurance management with Travelers, but rapidly broadened his career when he was asked to run a risk management department for Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Rochester, N.Y., region, after which he was hired by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., for which he still works today.
He started in the industry a long time ago, when managers spoke by telephone, communicated overseas using telex machines, and typed memos on typewriters made by IBM ... and for today's graduates, those tools aren't part of their toolbox -- if they've even heard of such tools at all.
"Today, even emails are passÚ," Phelps said, in an interview with Risk & Insurance« earlier this month.
"RIMS will consider ways to better connect with [young grads.] We have to communicate with them in the way they want to be communicated with," Phelps said.
In an open letter to RIMS members posted to the organization's website, Phelps, the organization's 59th president, said he would update written messages posted to the RIMS website, and update news about RIMS committees, councils, member chapters, professional development and government affairs on a monthly basis.
Members will also have access to the information through the organization's eGroups, and its social media outlets, he said.
Using all the tools at RIMS' disposal to communicate the value of risk management to young graduates is going to be paramount if RIMS wants to reach out to brokers like Mission. Generation Y, as Mission and her peers are known, won't think twice about working for Google or Facebook instead of Fireman's Fund or Marsh.
January 23, 2013
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