Q&A: Benjamin Hindson, vice-president for communications, media and technology, Marsh and chair of Next Generation Insurance Network

Benjamin Hindson, Vice President, Communications, Media & Technology, Marsh and chair NGIN (Next Generation Insurance Network)

As part of the Inclusion at Lloyd's programme six partner networks have been set up to help bolster diversity and inclusion in insurance. Post spoke to a representative from each one to get an insight into what they doing, today focusing on the Next Generation Insurance Network

Please could you summarise the main objectives of your network?

The Next Generation Insurance Network empowers young professionals to shape the world they live in. We provide young professionals - predominantly working within the London Market insurance industry - with professional development and networking opportunities through an annual programme of events.

The Ngin event programme is diverse and built around our members. By arranging and hosting educational and networking events with keynote speakers and established professionals, our members have access to high quality advice, opinions and perspectives on subjects relevant them. Ngin provides the unique opportunity to discover companies and meet individuals that they would have little to no contact with in their daily roles, expanding their knowledge of the industry as a whole and providing the potential to greatly expand personal and professional relationships.

Today we represent all young professionals working in and related to the insurance industry. We are primarily a London-market-focused network at present, but have strong links to other young professional insurance networks internationally. As the network has grown, our offering to our members has also increased and now we offer mentoring schemes alongside discounted conference tickets, opportunities to join insurance associations and our renowned events programmes.

Why did you personally get involved?

As a new joiner to the insurance industry in 2014 and also being new to London I wanted to meet people and my peers working in and connected to the industry.

I also believe that the industry is facing a crisis in talent. The average age for the insurance sector is 39 (up from 36.5 in 2015) and young people represent just 10% of the workforce. While great strides have been made in attracting new talent to the market through various market initiatives, the retention rate of talent across the market remains a challenge. Ngin works to support retention by helping new joiners to the industry belong to a supportive community and this was something which attracted me to the network. Since becoming involved I have been secretary, head of operations and then chair from 2017.

Can you list some of the activities your network has undertaken to help increase understanding and achieve its D&I goals?

Ngin was founded to support the careers of young professionals in the industry to meet the need of providing educational events to improve technical knowledge, build long lasting networks and support career development – much of which is not provided by companies.

There can sometimes be a misconception around less experienced colleagues that they don’t have as much to offer to the development of the industry due to lack of experience. Our work is to make sure that our members have the confidence to contribute and make an impact in their own organisations and the [wider] industry.

What have the network’s biggest achievements been to date?

To date, there are a number of achievements which I am very proud of:

Mentoring: Now in its fifth year, our peer mentoring scheme has had over 200 participants and continues to grow each year.

Apprentices: In 2019, we integrated ‘Assett’ to become ‘Apprentices by Ngin’ which is our dedicated offering to apprentices coming into insurance.

International: We hosted Svenska Försäkringsföreningen who have since gone on to set up their own young professional network.

What have been the biggest barriers to the network achieving its objectives?

As an independent network, one of the biggest barriers has been ensuring that we have strong enough financial base to support the work we do. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, Travelers, event partners, and the Inclusion at Lloyd’s programme, which helps us to ensure that we ‘keep the lights on’ and provide the high standard of events which our members have come to expect from us.

Could you single out some of the bright stars within the network and outline why their input has been so important?

Ngin couldn’t function without the dedication and hard work of our committee members who give up their spare time to organise events, set up mentoring programmes and coordinate our outreach activities such as partnering with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and other likeminded networks.

Our committee is very ably supported by our Ngin advocates. One of the first things I did as chair was to introduce an advocate pool as a non-committal position where volunteers could be involved on an ad-hoc basis. Since its introduction our advocate pool now stands at over 50 volunteers and is key to supporting our committee.

What could the insurance sector start doing/ stop doing in order to help increase awareness in your network’s D&I specialist area?

The insurance sector is getting better at attracting new and diverse talent into the industry but still struggles to retain it.

Once people have joined the industry it is assumed that you will be able to forge your own path and build your career. However, the industry needs to look at how they can engage less experienced colleagues in impactful work. There are different ways in which this could be done from training, to encouraging people to get away from their desks and network which often more junior colleagues don’t get the opportunity to do.

What has your network got coming up in the future; and how can people get involved?

Ngin has a very busy event schedule coming up over the next few months and our annual mentoring scheme will be returning in January. The best way to get involved is to sign up as a member (for free) on our website where we share all of our upcoming events. You can also follow us on Linked In (search Next Generation Insurance Network), Twitter and Instagram.

FURTHER READING

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Q&A: Ajay Mistry, partnership director, Brokerbility and co-chair, Insurance Cultural Awareness Network

Q&A: Amanda Lucas, L&D manager, Allianz Global Corporate Solutions and co-chair Insurance Families network

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