Making Partner - How industry leaders can jump to the next level

Making Partner 10

Having recently celebrated its tenth edition, we look at how RSA’sMaking Partner program helps brokers excel by delivering cutting edge education and development.

The rapidly evolving nature of Canada’s insurance industry makes it imperative for brokers to continue their pursuit of professional development and self-improvement throughout their careers. For brokers who want to reach their potential and be leaders in their segment of the market, embracing professional training is a necessity.

“It’s vital that brokers continue their education because the industry is changing so quickly,” says John McNeil, Manager, Learning and Development at RSA Canada. “Technology is driving change and we’re seeing an evolving customer with different buying behaviours. Learning is a huge part of growth. It takes more than going to work and experiencing the everyday challenges, it’s about staying up to date with the dynamic landscape.”
RSA’s Making Partner course is an executive education program held at Queen’s Smith School of Business in Kingston, Ontario. Participants at the tenth edition of the program, which ran May 8-13, 2016, received leadership assessments, professional development plans, extensive mentoring and the opportunity to network with fellow leaders in the industry. The course is designed specifically for high performing employees whose capacity to effectively lead has already been identified.
The unique program gives brokers the business skills needed to grow their brokerages and take their businesses to the next level. “Reading books can be inspiring but listening to a thought leader whose speciality is strategy really makes a difference,” says McNeil. “Making Partner allows brokers to stretch their thinking. It teaches brokers to change the way they think about the industry and to see themselves as leaders.”
One of this year’s attendees was Catherine Cake, a Branch Manager at Drayden Insurance in Fort Saskatchewan. Cake found the six-day course to be extremely valuable and has been able to directly implement what she learnt at Making Partner into her day-to-day operations. “The course helps open up your mind to different possibilities; it encourages you to think in a different way,” she explains. “The content was of a level that I haven’t seen before in our industry. It gave me new perspective.”
Cake was particularly impressed with the leadership session case study, which included professional actors who helped bring the fictional scenario to life. “Going through that exercise really kept us on our toes and thinking about the case throughout the session,” Cake says.  “It was neat to be able to use what we were learning in a relatable way and see how it would work in our industry. Every day topped the previous one somehow, and I didn’t think that was going to be possible!”
Cake says she would definitely recommend Making Partner to her colleagues and industry peers. “This industry is going to change drastically in the next 10 years, and this is a great way for up and coming people to gain valuable knowledge and exposure in a short time frame,” she says. “Otherwise, it could years to get those experiences.”
One of the program’s educators, Dr. Tina Dacin, believes that continued education and development is crucial in today’s business world. “The future of talent management is about changing how we think about talent and the ability to develop and leverage talent,” says Dr. Dacin, who is the E. Marie Shantz Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behavior in Smith School of Business, Queen's University. “Partnering offers a valuable opportunity to create a win-win for the company and industry.”
Dr. Dacin believes brokers who commit to furthering themselves are more likely to be aware of new techniques and skills, will be better equipped to share cutting-edge knowledge with key clients, and have a better chance of fulfilling their potential to make partner at their brokerage. Passive brokers, who don’t seek out new skills, may “fall behind the curve” and “lack the knowledge required for succession planning,” she adds.  
“At Making Partner, participants examine the workplace, explore personal awareness and growth, focus on understanding the building and importance of working relationships by increasing and honing feedback skills and by investigating conflict management techniques,” Dr. Dacin says. “Participants are very pleased year after year with the level of deep learning provided.”\

This article is featured in Insurance Business Canada.