ACE Insurance takes the lead with the Young Executive Programme

01 August 2013 Jonathan Faurie, FAnews

Woman have historically played a very strong role in South African society and this is seemingly being further entrenched with an initiative by diversified insurer ACE Insurance’s Young Executive Programme which seeks to grow the responsibility of key members of its staff through role enhancement.

The Young Executive programme is driven by ACE Insurance and serves as a talent identification programme. The company selects participants under a certain age. Out of these participants, a committee of four is voted in by their peers. The committee meets regularly to discuss how the tasks handed down by management will be undertaken.

Active empowerment

As discussed, the main aim of the programme is to identify talent within the company which it feels could become the future leaders of the company. Speaking to the FAnews, three of the initiatives participants provided more insight into how the programme has enhanced their careers.
"With the Young Executive programme, you are given additional responsibility to deal with issues which are normally outside of your scope of work. In that way, you don’t feel like just another number and you don’t feel like you are working at just any other job. You start to feel as if you are making a difference,” says Manisha Cheeba, a senior financial lines underwriter at ACE Insurance. Jaclyn Pratt, an assistant financial lines underwriter at ACE Insurance, adds that the responsibility broadens one’s role wherein management won’t make your job restrictive. "It’s a really good initiative and one which has been embraced by all within the company. We really feel privileged to participate in this programme,” says Pratt.

Growing skills sets

The participants are given a range of tasks to do from putting together power point presentations to assisting with organising the stand for the recently held IISA conference.
However, ACE Insurance is also getting the young executives involved in another aspect which typically embraces the South African culture of ‘Ubuntu’. Daniela Pizzi, an assistant commercial property underwriter at ACE Insurance, points out that the Young executives are responsible for their social responsibility programme and spends time at a school in Johannesburg where the company runs the prize giving.

"This programme is a good opportunity for us to grow our skill sets whereby we become an asset to the insurance industry as a whole,” points out Pratt.

Active recruitment

A major challenge for the industry has been the ability of the industry to attract new skills and to encourage tertiary education goers to see the insurance industry as a viable industry.
This seems to have changed amongst the ranks of the young executives. Cheeba openly admits that she pursued a career in insurance because she thought that everybody needs to purchase insurance at some point in their life.

Both Pratt and Pizzi worked within the financial sector in the UK and entered the insurance industry upon their return to South Africa because it best fitted their skills set. "The insurance industry is so dynamic, I can’t imagine being anywhere else at the moment. And I am always encouraging my friends to seriously consider a career in insurance,” says Pizzi.

One thing that all of the ladies can agree on is the growing prominence of women within the industry. "Women are making a name for themselves,” says Cheeba, "they are breaking traditional mind sets that the corporate world is to fast paced and cut-throat for women. If they focused their mind on a goal it is very rare that they don’t achieve it.”

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