NIBA Mentoring program: Building young leaders

With the second round of the NIBA Mentoring Program commencing next week, we spoke to mentors and mentees around the country on their experience in the program, and how it supports young brokers.

Written on 3 August, 2022
Amy Cai

Every year, the NIBA Mentoring Program brings together seasoned industry leaders and young professionals for 12 weeks of professional support and development.

With the second round of the program commencing later this month, we spoke to past mentors and mentees on their experience in the program, and how it supports young brokers.

 

Mentor in the Vic NIBA Mentoring Program:


Matthew Kohler
Authorised Representative at McLardy McShane Partners

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I had a desire to engage with the new generation of insurance professionals, understanding their challenges and how after 28 years in this industry, I could help enrich their learning and development.

The program provided the unique opportunity to establish new connections and importantly give something back to the insurance community, which hopefully will provide a long-term benefit to the participants.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

My experience was extremely positive. NIBA connected me with an extremely motivated and positive young professional, which made the process very enjoyable.

The framework provided allowed my mentee and I to set the agenda of topics to cover that were unique and important to them, and the program was delivered in a professional manner which we have come to expect from NIBA.

Each interaction with the cohort of mentees was extremely positive, which created the environment to extract the most from the experience.

Have you also personally benefited from being a mentor in the program?

It is humbling to have the opportunity to reflect on your own career and how it may be of value to share my learned experiences with others.

The program made me look internally to ensure that the mentee didn’t get my version of the industry, and instead they received a balanced program where they were encouraged to question any aspect of my experiences, wins, losses, and the industry at large.

I also enjoyed learning about the challenges the new generation of insurance professionals are facing and how they are managing and adapting to them.

 

Mentee in the Vic NIBA Mentoring Program:


Declan Gaffney
Account Executive at Edgewise

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

A number of Account Managers at Edgewise were participants of the program. They recommended that I begin it now that I am an Account Executive with a number of years’ experience in the industry. They spoke very highly of the program, namely its potential to assist professional development and, the benefits of receiving advice from a mentor external to the organisation you work for.

Having not engaged in a mentor program before, professionally or otherwise, I was hoping to sharpen my skillset and further my career through the guide of a successful insurance professional.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

My experience was fantastic. My mentor, Matthew Kohler, was fully committed from the very start and very proactive in his approach. Every Friday, we’d have a phone call and every second week we met up for a coffee.

In the program, you are afforded a lot of freedom to set your own goals, and it is up to you how much you want to gain from the program.  Mathew and I established three objectives that we wanted to achieve from the program, and spent two to three weeks on each. These objectives mostly centred around engaging with clients in different scenarios. We both wanted to derive as much benefit from the experience as possible and applied ourselves accordingly.

Initially, I thought the program would be a one-way lecture. But to my pleasant surprise, it was a two-way discussion. With each objective, Matthew would ask, “What would you do in this scenario?” I would offer my suggestion and he’d suggest different points of view, and through discussion we’d arrive at new perspectives.

At the end of the program, my position on how to approach problems and work out solutions was totally different. I felt that this was a better way of learning, as I had developed solutions for myself through reaching certain conclusions with Matthew.

Do you have any advice for young brokers on how they can make the most out of the program?

I recommend this program to insurance professionals who have been working in the industry for four or five years. I believe that the Account Executive level is the ideal position for brokers to begin the NIBA Mentoring Program, as you have more exposure and control with your accounts and the program can make a real impact on your career.

I would suggest establishing what you and your mentor want to achieve from the program, then put a plan into practice right from the start. If you leave this on the back burner, you’ll run out of time. If you make the most of your time in the program, it’s a very rewarding experience.

 

Mentee in the Vic NIBA Mentoring Program:


Anshu Thomas
Service Executive at Aon

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I’d always had an interest in learning directly from an industry professional with expertise in their field of insurance.

As corporate insurance broking was a new area for me in the insurance space, I thought this program would be extremely helpful in allowing me to expand on my current level of industry knowledge.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

My experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program was invaluable to say the least.

My mentor not only addressed the areas of product knowledge that I wanted to explore, but she did so in a manner that allowed me to absorb as much information as possible, whilst being a constant source of motivation for my desired destination.

This program has inspired me to hopefully become a mentor myself one day, and to share my knowledge and experience to help and encourage young brokers.

Do you have any advice for young brokers on how they can make the most out of the program?

Ask as many questions as possible and don’t be afraid to ask the same question twice.

Sometimes, revisiting a particular situation or scenario can give you a different and clearer perspective.

 

Mentee in the NSW NIBA Mentoring Program:

Kirsten Fang
Account Executive at March

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I actually stumbled upon the details for the NIBA Mentoring Program on the NIBA website.

The set of questions asked during the application showed that NIBA took the time to understand the mentees and mentors to set us up well, and particularly with someone who you may not have crossed paths with otherwise.

I also asked amongst colleagues for their experience and received great feedback on how the program helped build their knowledge, presentation skills, or gave them an extra name to call if ever in need.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

Overall, I had a great experience and met a great group of like-minded young professionals, as well as a few more experienced players in the industry that I can reach out to for help.

It really is a choose-your-own path situation in the program, outside of the group workshops with other mentees. So much of what is discussed between you and your mentor is confidential.

This was a great balance with the group workshops, which focused on interpersonal skills, a Q&A and panel discussion with experienced insurance professionals, and lastly the mentee presentations.

Separately with my mentor, we planned out goals and ways of achieving them, and discussed how to improve on certain soft skills.

Do you have any advice for young brokers on how they can make the most out of the program?

The mentoring program is only 12 weeks, so really think through what you want to get out of that time when you are submitting the application. That way, you can use that time to your advantage with your mentor.

Be clear on your objectives with your mentor, set achievable goals and check in regularly. My mentor and I organised weekly meet-ups, since this allowed us to keep track of progress or bring up anything new to discuss.

For the group sessions, make sure to network with your peers and ask questions. As they say, you only get out what you put in!

Most importantly, enjoy it – you’re only afforded one opportunity, so take it.

 

Mentor in the NSW NIBA Mentoring Program:


Ingrid Ibbotson
Regional Manager at Blue Zebra Insurance

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA mentoring program?

I decided that I wanted to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program as there have been so many people that have helped me over the years.

I wanted to give something back to the industry that has given me so much.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

I have been lucky to have some great mentees who are relatively new to the industry and excited to learn as much as they can. We often take some of the simple things for granted when training new staff and they may be unsure about things that we just assume everybody knows, such as what all the acronyms stand for ROE, LR, GWP, etc.

I love the fact that our discussions are a safe place where the mentees can ask questions with no judgment and are encouraged to work out what they like and are good at, which helps to give them more confidence.

Have you also personally benefited from being a mentor in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I have learned a lot about myself and the NIBA Mentoring Program has made me stop and think about how I, too, do things and approach different situations.

I have a great job at Blue Zebra Insurance and the program has made me realise what I love about the work that I do.

It’s not just the role you have that makes a job good or bad but the company, culture and people and when its good (like it is at Blue Zebra) then it makes you want to get up and do the best job that you can each day.

 

Mentee in the NSW NIBA Mentoring Program:


Ryan Holland
Account Broker at Gow-Gates Insurance Brokers

What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I decided to partake in the NIBA Mentoring Program as I saw it as a great opportunity to build upon my professional network, as well as a chance to learn from an experienced industry mentor. Having just a year’s experience within the insurance sector at the time, I saw it as an ideal time to participate in such a program, which offered the ability to share expertise, skills, and general insurance knowledge with a learned industry professional. I had heard positive things from colleagues who had experienced the program before and was excited to be a part of it.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

The program itself was very well structured. We had Q&A panels with industry leaders, as well as roundtable discussions which involved presentations from reputable guest-speakers. At the conclusion of each workshop, we were able to network with other mentees and mentors.

Throughout the entire experience, the mentors were very generous with their time and were always happy to assist wherever possible. I have made some great friendships and connections out of the program, and I would highly advise anyone within the insurance industry to apply.

Do you have any advice for young brokers on how they can make the most out of the program?

I would advise other mentees to go into the program with a positive mindset and look to be pro-active in organising catch-ups with your mentor as often as possible. Whether that be a quick coffee in the morning, or heading out for lunch, the more time you spend with your mentor the more beneficial the program will be. You only get out what you put in.

 

Mentor in the Qld NIBA Mentoring Program:


Kara McInnes
National Claims Service Manager at CHU Underwriting Agencies

 What made you decide to take part in the NIBA Mentoring Program?

I took part in the NIBA Mentoring Program, as I wanted to be able to share my knowledge and give back to an industry that has provided high levels of growth and development for me during my 11 years in insurance.

A colleague had mentioned the NIBA Mentoring Program during conversation, and I jumped at the opportunity to apply.

During my leadership career, I have always had a professional mentor and known firsthand the benefits that can be gained by having a good mentor by your side.

What has your experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program been like?

My experience in the NIBA Mentoring Program was excellent and I highly recommend the program to anyone who is thinking of applying. The program reignited my spark and passion for our industry and has driven me to continue growing.

Have you also personally benefited from being a mentor in the program?

Being a mentor in the program provided a lot of personal satisfaction. I was able to help guide my mentee to reach significant heights during the program.

Over the course of 12 weeks, we met weekly and worked through all areas that she wanted to develop.

As I work within an underwriting agency, the program also provided me with further insights into the role of a broker, which assisted me in understanding our clients on a deeper level, while also opening networking opportunities with other industry professionals.

 

Amy Morrison and Lisa Downie, a mentoring and mentee pair from this year’s earlier Qld NIBA Mentoring Program, also shared their experiences in the program in the August issue of Insurance Adviser. Click here to read.

 

The NIBA Mentoring Program is offered once to twice a year in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and runs for a duration of 12 weeks.

The next round of mentoring will begin in August 2022, running in Sydney and Melbourne.

Applications for mentors and mentees will close on 12 August 2022.

For more information, visit www.niba.com.au/niba-mentoring-program.