Women's Summit to launch mentorship program

"Mentoring is essential," says insurance head

Women's Summit to launch mentorship program

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

A new industry mentorship program is launching at the upcoming Women in Insurance Summit Australia in Sydney. The program, open to all Summit delegates, will kick off during the networking lunch when interested mentors and mentees will be paired up.

“Mentorship programs are one of many levers that a business can use to help lift our female talent,” said Claudio Saita (pictured above, left) head of Australia and Pacific for Canopius Group.

The speciality insurer is the Summit’s Mentorship Program Partner and brings the experience of a well-established mentorship program of its own.

“Canopius believes mentoring is essential to developing and training staff so we can create more rounded and high-performing employees,” said Sydney-based Saita.

He said his firm had spent considerable time “fostering a robust internal mentorship program.”

“We work in an industry that demands specialised ‘know-how’ and a deep understanding of niche sectors,” said Saita. “The success of our business lies in sharing our knowledge with our colleagues and investing in the development of colleagues so we can create a pipeline of capable and committed individuals who feel supported and enabled to thrive.”

Saita said the initiative is a way of cultivating the next generation of leaders.

“We were therefore very pleased to have the opportunity to support the mentoring session within the Women in Insurance event,” said Saita.

Canopius expert to share tips

At the Women in Insurance Summit, Suzanne White (pictured above, right) will provide mentoring tips. White is Canopius’ head of accident and health in Australia and the Pacific and, said Saita, a driving force behind the firm’s program.

White said a mentor’s sharing of expertise can help mentees make informed career decisions, accelerate their learning curves and provide considerable networking opportunities.

“Having a mentor who can offer encouragement and constructive feedback is also a way to boost the confidence of less seasoned professionals,” she said.

White said she’s had many mentors during her career. The Canopius leader provided a checklist that she’s used for finding a suitable one.

Checklist: how to find a mentor?

Identify your goals

And what you hope to achieve through mentorship - this will help you find the right mentor

Leverage networks

Your own, your colleagues, professional organisations and social media platforms, like LinkedIn, to find potential mentors

Does your company have a formal mentorship program?

Many companies, like Canopius, have formal mentorship programs - take advantage of these.

Attend industry events

Conferences, workshops, industry meet-ups are great places to meet potential mentors

Be proactive

And don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you admire and ask them to be a mentor! Maybe start with a request to meet for coffee and clarify why you seek their guidance.

White, who has considerable experience as a mentor herself, said mentorship has been “a transformative experience.”

“It provided me with the insight necessary for my own professional and personal growth,” she said.

“I think there are many people, like me, who have benefited from a mentor and now want to give back by helping others.”

HiPo: a mentorship program model?

A recent Canopius mentorship initiative is called the High Potential, or HiPo, program.

“This initiative involves inviting promising employees to join a select group of colleagues - half of whom are female - to undertake a comprehensive development program enabled by psychometrics and coaching and practice skills learned by taking on projects and initiatives that are designed to test and stretch them,” said Saita.

The HiPo teams also engage directly with the operation of the business, he said, delivering ideas and proposals on strategic challenges like innovation and operational effectiveness.

“They are also invited to senior networking events which gives them exposure to leadership members to further develop their capabilities,” said Saita.

Getting serious about mentoring

The Canopius leader said industry firms that are serious about creating a mentorship program need to make a long-term commitment and investment.

“At Canopius we have dedicated teams who ensure that everyone in the business is aware of the program and that mentors are paired with the right mentees,” said Saita.

The process involves a briefing session and online interactive learning, he said, so that mentors and mentees understand their roles and responsibilities.

“We encourage our mentors and mentees to meet regularly, and this involves ensuring the mentee is the organiser and driver behind the meetings,” he said. “This gives them experience in ‘managing up’, and also planning and working with senior colleagues who are often time-poor.”

He suggested that having a flexible program is key to its success.

“There is no hard and fast schedule or rule around what the pairs should discuss,” said Saita. “We encourage both parties to build up the relationship at their own pace and give the mentee the opportunity to drive the agenda and set their own goal that is most pertinent to them.”

The Women in Insurance Summit Australia is taking place on August 21 at The Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. The event is approved with five CIP points by ANZIIF and five CPD hours by MFAA. Click here for more information and registration details

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