The Added Value of CPCU Society Involvement
By Chris Stultz, CPCU
I entered the property-casualty (P&C) insurance business in 2011 in an entry level position for Harleysville Insurance (now a part of Nationwide). From the beginning, my goal was to become knowledgeable in my field and achieve a stronger role.
I utilized The Institutes coursework to supplement my applied learning and to help realize these ambitions. I stayed persistent, and can attribute much of my progress, confidence, and success in underwriting to my studies through The Institutes, which resulted in the CPCU® designation. What I didn’t learn until several years later is that there is a second great area of benefit related to becoming a CPCU: membership in the CPCU Society.
Since first arriving at the 2014 CPCU Society Annual Meeting, my excitement about that community and networking effort within the CPCU Society have continuously grown. If you take the initiative to get involved in the Society, the opportunities and potential benefits are far-reaching!
The experience and enthusiasm within this community is tremendous. Upon entering a Society event, one can immediately sense the level of engagement among attendees, and everyone is happy to welcome newcomers into the fold. These characteristics do not dissipate when an event closes. They extend through interest groups and local chapters and, to me, represent the core of what it means to be a CPCU. In my experience, these aspects of the CPCU Society were seldom highlighted during my pursuit of the designation, but rapidly revealed themselves as I began to integrate into the Society.
Everyone Wants to Network
I achieved the CPCU designation in May of 2014, and have since attended the CPCU Society Annual Meeting, the Reinsurance Symposium, and the Leadership Summit. While the expert speakers and workshops are highlights at all of these events, the primary activity that takes place is networking. People are interested in meeting new members and learning about their unique experience, while sharing their own. The CPCU Society is truly a community, and its members appreciate the value of that.
Members Want You Involved
Experienced CPCUs tend to really understand the value that membership brings. They have seen the support that exists and the relationships that grow. They realize that they have something great, and want to continue to pass that along and develop it. Many initiatives and groups are started within the CPCU Society, and they encourage new members and fresh ideas. If you express your interests and ambitions to the CPCUs that you meet, it’s likely that you’ll get involved very quickly.
Experienced P&C professionals want to share their experience with new entrants in the industry. When you start contributing to a chapter or interest group, you work closely with these CPCUs, and you pick up a whole lot. You share the common ground of your interest or region, and develop in that capacity, but you’re also working closely with people of very diverse backgrounds. This helps provide a macro view of the property and casualty world, which greatly enhances your adaptability and understanding. A person can easily limit their experience to their cubical and office walls, but we have a world of possibilities in our industry. The CPCU Society helps remind us of that. This is an aspect of the CPCU community that I personally believe is critical to my future and my career fulfillment.
It’s been less than ten months since I attended that first Annual Meeting and really began getting involved. In this time, I’ve shared experiences with professionals from many corners of the industry including international members, lawyers, systems engineers, finance specialists, reinsurance professionals, fellow primary carrier professionals, and even agents from my region who have worked closely with my office’s leadership. I’ve been welcomed into a great group of people in the International Insurance Interest Group (3IG). This group stays very active, drives international participation, and brings a lot of progressive industry topics to light. I also continuously follow the Underwriting Interest Group (UIG). The group has strong, supportive leadership, highlights issues of debate in underwriting, and keeps their finger on the pulse of developing trends within our industry and our world. In addition, I’m beginning to get involved with the Professional Experience Resource Group (PERG). This group is developing a formalized mentorship program. The group will find optimal pairings of new and experienced professionals in order to provide valuable guidance and support for young CPCUs. This initiative exemplifies many of the CPCU ideals discussed in this post.
I believe that, outside of the CPCU Society itself, its value is often understated. Again, I am only ten months in, and I already feel like I’m a part of something very valuable. The only requirement is that I contribute and participate, and as I do, I develop bonds within a network that will support me and offer me opportunity throughout my career. For new CPCUs, and for those whose involvement has waned, I encourage you to reach out to your chapter leaders. Find an area or two of insurance that interests you and then reach out to the leaders of those interest groups as well. I also highly encourage anyone, if able, to attend the 2015 CPCU Society Annual Meeting to experience the strength and breadth of the Society first hand.
Again, your involvement is welcomed and appreciated. We all want to share and expand this great community!