The Insurance Apprentice runner-up Memory Zimba on the role of the youth in insurance

Last week we talked to the Insurance Apprentice winner Amogelang Kgaladi about his experiences in the reality TV show and the future of insurance. This week, it’s runner-up Memory Zimba who talks about the role of the youth in insurance.

With all the uncertainty at the moment, how do you see the younger generation in the insurance industry playing a role in the future success of insurance?

We have already experienced how digital natives have changed the rules for marketers and product managers in retail. Lockdown conditions have forced all of us to engage and work digitally, a glimpse of a possible future. The success of insurance will depend on how well we create diverse teams that include the younger generation. For example, the Harvard Business Review found that diverse teams have better problem-solving that lead to a more informed decision-making process and improved results.

What do you think are the skills required today to be successful in insurance? For me, TIA 2020 highlighted the importance of communication skills and emotional intelligence. When we fared poorly in tasks it was either because we misunderstood what was communicated in the brief, we were not cognisant of our target audience and pitching appropriately, or we failed to work as a team through communication to capitalise on each other’s strengths.

Advice to other youngsters that want to start a career in insurance?

The opportunities are unlimited, whether you are a doctor, engineer, actuary, or the many other fields in the industry. Your responsibility is to discover your passion and align it to the various opportunities. Find that opportunity which allows you to add value and contribute in a manner that allows you to achieve your personal and professional goals.

What has been the one key take-away from your experience in the Insurance Apprentice?

Although I have nine years’ experience in Short-term and Life Insurance, I worried about entering a predominantly Short-term insurance competition, having spent the last four years specialising in Life Insurance. Coming out in second place has given me the confidence not to limit myself to my specialisation, but to rather trust that I have developed problem-solving skills that can be applied anywhere.

Any words to the judges?

The Peter Parker principle, “With great power comes great responsibility”, immediately comes to mind. Judges have a very difficult job, but with it comes the opportunity and responsibility to influence, build and develop the next generation of insurance leaders. Thank you for taking on this big responsibility and providing me with the guidance that helped me be runner-up in this series.

The role of mentorship in carving out a successful career?

I believe mentorship to be a process of honest conversation to enable a paradigm shift. Wisdom comes with time and experience. Mentorship allows you to leverage off of the wisdom accumulated by others to help you handle setbacks and challenges, gain expert knowledge. It helps you navigate the various changes that lead to personal and professional development and build value.

All of these are important in developing a successful career. While it may be possible to achieve success without mentorship, mentorship brings efficiency and mental well-being. “A problem shared is a problem halved,” the saying goes.

Highlight from the Insurance Apprentice season?

Definitely the finale. I am proud of how I carried myself during the finale. It is proof to me that the competition helped me strengthen my self-awareness.

Current challenges in insurance?

The role of the new generation in overcoming these challenges? COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges that were already facing the industry, including low market penetration due to affordability; a shrinking economy leaving existing clients with less disposable income; and increased claims and expenses, for example, Business Interruption and Contingent business interruption policies kicking in.

All of this will impact the transformation of the insurance industry due to job losses that generally happen at lower level job grades where the majority of previously disadvantaged individuals sit. The new generation would contribute to innovation in things like product design and technology that will include the broader population, increasing the insurance customer base and decreasing expenses.

Insurance as career choice? Insurance may have chosen me, but I am staying because it provides me countless opportunities to add value and make a difference to people’s lives.

22 June 2020