Professional Development: Lifelong Learning to Achieve Professional Excellence
By Cindy Powell, President, Bespoke

My daughter is a high school math teacher. When visiting her classroom, I spotted a poster that asked the age-old question, “When are we ever gonna have to use this?” The poster provides a table with rows of mathematical terms, cross referenced to columns of professions that prove you do indeed have a very good chance of using this stuff again.

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Looking closer I saw that columns 1 and 2, were labeled “Accountant” and “Actuary” (followed closely by “Astro Physicist”), before rambling through a few more familiar titles like “Computer Scientist” and “Software Engineer”. I’m thinking that any of my colleagues who have ever had to prepare a financial statement, make business decisions based on statistical data, or develop a premium rating algorithm, have probably had that “Ah HA” moment when you recall asking that same question, and now know the answer. 

Within the insurance industry there are many professions that require not only those skills we learned in school, such as math or grammar, but also continuous learning in areas more specific to our jobs. For example, we need to stay up to date with tax code changes and other regulatory compliance. We also need to understand and prepare for adoption of new technologies and to stay in the know about prevalent trends affecting our industry. IASA is a key resource in helping us to keep pace with the on-going learning that is required to support our professional responsibilities. These learning opportunities are supported by the Education Committee through both ARF and the Technical sub-committees, throughout the year, in publications, e-learning, and annual conference sessions.

It is indisputable that opportunities to keep these mission critical skills fresh is important and will continue to be a driving force in maintaining the value that membership in the IASA provides. Alongside ARF and Technical, the Education Committee has also included Career Skills Development (CSD), with a mission is to provide a wider range of topics that do not fall into either of these categories, but should be included in each professional’s comprehensive plan for keeping their skills current and relevant. 

Members have been paying attention! CSD has doubled in the number of conference sessions offered over the past several years. Those sessions have been well attended and the feedback has been very positive. Covering a wide range of topics, that are not necessarily job specific, but are just as important to our overall development, as we pursue success and growth in our professional life. With sessions focused on subjects such as leadership, team building, workforce diversity, work/life balance and networking, CSD has offered members opportunities to round out their learning objectives.  

As we move into fall planning and early preparations for the 2018 annual conference, IASA’s leadership has taken a closer look at what CSD does and has decided to re-name the committee. The Professional Development Committee will carry on the mission of CSD, with a name that more appropriately represents the wide range of topics we cover, and their place in the trifecta of knowledge and skills our members need to grow and succeed as professionals. From those early math classes, to the job-specific technical skills associated with individual roles and responsibilities, and including a wider range of topics to help us navigate relationships and company cultures in an ever-changing business environment, learning is a lifelong job and our newly named Professional Development Committee hopes to be in your arsenal of tools to help you meet those educational needs.

Stay tuned for more on the committee and our plans for the upcoming year. It’s time to Power Up!

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