This year’s winner of the prestigious Valerie Baker Memorial Award has acknowledged ageism within the insurance industry – but says young up and comers shouldn’t let it hold them back.
Melbourne-based Beau Munn (pictured) entered the insurance industry at just 18 years old and by 21 he was the director of his own brokerage – while there were countless hurdles along the way, he said ageism was undoubtedly the biggest challenge.
“In the corporate world, there is always the view from older businesspeople that you need to ‘pay your dues’ and that does affect young talent if they feel like they cannot express their entrepreneurial skills because they will feel belittled, and pigeonholed,” said Munn, director of Origin Insurance.
However, while Munn admitted it could be frustrating to come up against those attitudes, he also said he managed to find a way to rise above it.
“I don’t let this affect myself as I believe it is a young person’s world in terms of expressing entrepreneurial values and skills, especially as the industry is changing rapidly through educational requirements and also how clients see your business from a commercial and social aspect,” he said.
While Munn said ageism can be an issue, he also urged young people not to become overconfident or complacent – instead, they should look for valuable role models who can guide them.
“Align yourself with driven individuals and seek genuine mentors,” he suggested. “Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to such people no matter their title, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice, or voice your ideas.”
As a young person in insurance, and a role model for other young people, Munn also suggested the insurance industry could be doing more to encourage the younger generation to consider careers in the sector.
“I believe we need to promote this industry more, as this is something that doesn’t stand out to young talent, and not something you aspire to do when you leave school, it is something you fall into, and a lot of insurance professionals would most likely agree,” he said.
“I can say for myself I would love to see more of insurance being promoted to youth and to showcase how large and important this industry is globally. Without insurance, businesses wouldn’t be able to take risk, and be able to grow into some of the companies the world has today.”