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World-Class Risk Management Faculty Collaborate on Continuing Education Program

by Rob Kelly Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Today, creating meaningful professional development classes for insurance industry professionals is a key to success for the industry. Advances in the use of big data, a growing emphasis on risk management, and a rapidly changing market are placing significant demands on future industry leaders, many of whom do not have the benefit of an academic degree in the field.

That’s why the Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) Program and the Center for Professional and Executive Development (CPED) at the Wisconsin School of Business teamed up with the Institutes, a risk management and property casualty industry organization, to offer The Institutes’ Management Education for insurance professionals.

 uw–madison wisconsin school of business the institutes' management education artell smith

Instructor Artell Smith discusses workplace issues at The Institutes’ Management Education at the Wisconsin School of Business. 

This three-and-a-half-day program, which will be offered in October, features research-based content from RMI faculty, insights from industry experts, and applied learning opportunities to gain leadership skills and better understand organizational change and employee engagement.

“We combine the best of insurance acumen, including insurance financial understanding and insurance-focused strategic development within an enterprise risk management framework, with personal leadership insights and change management techniques,” says Joan Schmit, the American Family Insurance Distinguished Chair of Risk Management and Insurance at Wisconsin School of Business.

Participants learn about financial data assessment, communication skills, personal strengths, understanding others, and how to contribute to their organization’s strategic initiatives.

“The program is designed for mid-level managers and leaders who have been identified as high-potential talent within their organizations and need more business acumen and strategic-thinking and critical-thinking skills,” says Mal Jeffris, senior director of business development at the Center for Professional and Executive Development. “As they start to move beyond a function like customer service and start crossing over to other functions, they need to know how the rest of the organization works.”

Cristina Hatem, corporate communications manager at Preferred Mutual Insurance Company and recent program participant, appreciated the opportunity to gain insights into the industry in general as well as in-depth knowledge on topics such as enterprise risk management and financial statements.

“I think having that deep-dive understanding of insurance is going to enable me to go back and talk the same language as our leaders and demonstrate where I can add value,” Hatem says.

One of the highlights of the program was a talk by Dan Kelly (BBA ’84, MBA ’85), chief financial officer for American Family Insurance. “He was able to add a very senior executive perspective to an issue that many of our companies are facing, and he did it in a very candid and open way,” Hatem says.

Interacting with a group of participants from a variety of functions—underwriting, claims, marketing, and customer service—provides a variety of perspectives that adds to a shared understanding of industry issues.

 “It was a good week in terms of introspective thinking about who I am as a person and as a leader and the makeup of my team,” says Mark Miele, a participant from American Family Insurance. “There are a million things going on back at the office, and the program provides a good atmosphere in terms of getting out of the fires at work.”

“Because participants come from a wide array of organizations and from across the country, we encourage them to share best practices with the group,” says Schmit. “Participants typically develop a strong bond while in the program and stay in touch afterward.”

This opportunity to share essential knowledge with a group of professionals facing many of the same challenges is a huge benefit to participants, giving them unique insights into solving industry-wide problems.

“It’s a very diverse group, but everyone’s dealing with the same issues,” Miele says, noting that everyone has connected on LinkedIn. “In addition to what we’ve learned during the week, we have a network once we leave.” 

For more information about this program, see The Institutes' website