The 2020 event programme for the Airmic fastTrack forum was designed to help the new generation of insurance and risk professionals stand out in their workplace and embrace the future of the profession. There to discuss this future and the essential skills required to thrive in a fast-paced digital world was head of talent at Willis Towers Watson, Amanda Scott, and she outlined the changes, challenges and opportunities facing risk professionals today.
A recent survey conducted by Airmic, Scott said, revealed several interesting insights about the future of work, the skills of the future and technology. With technology evolving at lightning speed, she said, how is the industry evolving to keep up? Roles within the insurance and risk professions have seen substantial changes over recent years, she said, and she highlighted the imperative of cultural and professional change within the sector.
“Risk professionals have historically focused on the technical aspects of their jobs,” she said. “Those who can mesh strategy, vision, influencing skills, commercial awareness and technological fluency on top of traditional technical risk competencies will be best positioned to help their organisation navigate today’s dynamic risk environment.”
Looking at how technology is currently being used, Scott outlined how the Airmic survey revealed that technology is being utilised to work faster and smarter, to stay organised, and for research and learning opportunities. However, she said, very few within the sector are harnessing technology for self-evaluation or for building up professional relationships and communications.
“As technology increasingly takes over more routine and manual tasks,” she said, “your value will hinge on interpersonal communication and your emotional and social intelligence. So, disruption is the new normal and no industry is exempt from change. Life is faster, it’s more complex and we’re more connected. It’s more challenging, but it’s also more exciting. Although technology will facilitate change, risk professionals need to take the decision to drive that change. As we head into the future of work with more technology and AI in our organisations, we need leaders who are honest, kind and empathetic more than ever.”
Looking to the skills that are going to be required in the future, Scott said, she was interested to see from the research that there is an increased dual focus on both technology and being human. Digital literacy, a creative mindset, negotiating and influencing were considered the most important skills for the future, she said.
“The technical aspects of your roles are being stretched into areas requiring influencing skills, business awareness, and technological fluency,” she said. “Those that can combine those skills will achieve personal and professional success.”
According to the Airmic report, Scott detailed, only about half of those surveyed stated that they are very or fairly confident when it comes to using emerging technologies, with others declaring themselves somewhat confident or not confident. She challenged the young risk and insurance professionals in the room to find ways and approaches of becoming more confident through classes or partnering with individuals and projects to build up their experience.
“We need to upskill and constantly reinvent ourselves or we risk being made redundant by technology,” she said. “On a more positive note, this presents the opportunity for us to offer more value. If we can find the best ways to work hand in hand with technology, we will ultimately make an improvement.”
With its emphasis on the future of the profession, the research carried out by Airmic has focused on the emerging generation and their skillset, she said. It is reported that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that do not yet exist, she said. As consultants, they are seeing a shift in focus into skills, she said, and she is working with leading organisations to break down job roles into the core skills required.
Scott believes that schools are currently outdated due to their emphasis on students memorising information that they can easily Google. Based on research on the future of work more broadly, she said, the aim should be for students to learn critical thinking, building empathy, teamwork, using design thinking, creativity and how to consolidate reams of data to create original thoughts. Looking at the top three careers aspired to by children between the ages of 11 and 16, she said, research has found that 18% of children want to be doctors, 17% want to be social media influencers and 14% want to be YouTubers.
“So, what can we learn from this?” she asked. “We need to bring that passion and excitement back to the insurance world. We have to make our organisations inspiring, fun, and exciting growth opportunities for exploration and giving back to the world. We need to embrace the skillset of the future.”