The initial plan to reach towards the Fellowship was to submit a dissertation on a relevant subject. I had discussions on these lines with my superiors and had tentatively identified some areas. However this plan had to undergo a change, which was primarily brought about because of a job relocation. On review after the job change, I found that acquiring a qualification in Risk Management would in my changed circumstance help both me personally and my employer. I therefore pursued this alternative. Looking back I feel that I have taken the right decision. I have progressed to the post of a General Manager in the company with two promotions in nine years. The Company's business has grown over four times in the past nine years. It was a very fruitful and rewarding experience with the Fellowship plan getting integrated into my work and vice versa.
After completion of my ACII, I had plans of progressing towards the Fellowship by way of a dissertation on an appropriate technical topic. At that time I was employed in the Head Office Technical Department of an Insurance Company based in the Sultanate of Oman. I had also decided at that time to seek new opportunities on the career front at that time in new markets. Aided by my experience and the ACII qualifications (to no small extent!) I was successful in switching over to a new but rapidly growing Broking Company in the neighboring United Arab Emirates. I joined there as a Technical Manager.
Changes to plan
The new job brought along with it a number of changes to which I had to quickly get used to including adapting to the new role as a Broker (as compared to all my previous positions as an Underwriter) in a very competitive market. My role shifted from that of a purely technical one to that also encompassing administration, marketing and other managerial functions. Further from my Employer's viewpoint the very survival of the company depended on the value added services, which the client would get from a broker. From this angle a company with a better competitive advantage would be the one that has more employees with professional qualifications and competence. This prompted me to review the Fellowship plan. After deliberation and review of the situation it was clear to me that acquiring another professional qualification in a related field would result in a win- win situation for both my Employer and me. After reviewing the various courses available I felt that the Associateship of the Institute of Risk Management would be most suitable and accordingly enrolled for the same.
Self learning and awareness
The additional knowledge gained while doing this course was quite immense. To start with it trained me to look at the risk exposures faced by any organization in a very methodical way. The logical process of collecting information, analyzing the risks, recommending risk transfer mechanisms all became part of the services that could be offered to the clients. This straight away put our company's offerings to the client on a different and unique pedestal. It was possible to suggest comprehensive risk management solutions instead of pure insurance-based solutions.
The CPD (Continuous Professional Development) activities required for completion of the course was equally helpful. Though the activities were part of the job anyway the need to complete this put an added emphasis and focus. I attended as many seminars/ training workshops/ programs as possible and in due course also participated as trainer/ presenter in some of the sessions.
The BEP (Business Ethics Program) was also of considerable practical relevance. After the reading of the course material and going through the case studies it became much easier to resolve things by putting it in the decision making framework suggested. Decision-making became more professional and objective. It helped me arrive at and understand much faster the core issues during meetings internally and externally. I have a proposal of discussing the concepts of this program with the Directors of my company so that they can put it into use in their daily activities as deemed fit.
Key skills and knowledge acquired
The Associateship in Risk management helped me understand many new concepts on Risk Management as previously mentioned. I got the feeling (considering the wide potential of the course) there is a need to gain more in-depth knowledge by supplementary reading on the topics and am therefore pursuing the same. On the insurance front as part of the CPD, training sessions attended helped me in keeping updated with various developments in the products and services. Even more importantly for preparation of the papers of the presentations being done by me a lot of painstaking reading and research was required which helped in keeping updated and gaining a wider perspective. In front of an audience of 50 or more people it can be very embarrassing if a question thrown at you (as the speaker) cannot be answered. After one such experience initially I made it a point to go into any such presentation by not only trying to acquire a thorough knowledge about the subject being discussed but also of any other related areas in which questions can be raised. The CPD activities helped in discovering and building on my potential in public speaking (which was one area where I was not good earlier nor did I have sufficient exposure to the same. In fact to hone up these skills I even attended some sessions at the Toastmasters International public speaking skills meetings). I found that this had a direct impact on my confidence levels as also leadership skills. Looking back it almost seems like the Fellowship programme was tailor made to address the key learning issues that was required of me in my career. Again it was not a digression but a natural progression of my work.
Intentions for the future
I firmly believe that the only way to continued professional growth and development is to continue the learning process throughout the career. After attaining the Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute, I have intentions to continue my academic progression. The courses identified for this purpose include a course in Arbitration (Chartered Institute of Arbitrators) and specialized courses in Reinsurance. I will also be trying to progress to the Fellowship of the Institute of Risk Management. In my current role I also plan to spend more time on internal staff training along with the other external presentations. Within my company I have the good fortune of being recognized as a committed professional and it will be my endeavor to rise up further in the hierarchy.