A diverse range of occupations exist within the insurance sector, making it an exciting industry, providing a host of interesting and diverse career prospects.
The typical entry requirements to the insurance sector depend on the role. New starters are generally at a minimum school leavers with their Leaving Certificate, or college graduates from various fields within business studies, certificate through to masters level.
The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is all about building a career – not just getting a job.
nsurance is about delivering peace of mind. Insurance companies offer financial protection and security to individuals and businesses, allowing them to take the risks necessary to grow and expand.
Sarah Tenanty Is the Financial Operations Lead for Zurich General Insurance in Ireland. Sarah entered the world of work after completing year one of a Level 8 Accounting and Finance degree at Dundalk Institute of Technology. She has completed her Professional Diploma in Insurance and is currently studying for her Management Diploma in Insurance.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
In 2007, after completing my first year of a Level 8 Accounting and Finance course, I decided that this particular course was not for me - instead I opted to enter the world of work. I applied for a job with Zurich Insurance Dublin in June 2007 and was successful in my application.
In September 2008, following the announcement that Zurich were transferring some business areas to County Wexford, I decided to relocate with my role after considering the career opportunities on offer.
This was one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in my career but it was worthwhile as it opened new doors within the company for me.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My parents have always encouraged me and been very supportive of my career. They have always set a good example for me and my siblings – living by the motto that hard work pays off. Since starting my career over 8 years ago, I have found that the people that I have worked with have supported and guided me. There have been specific people managers along the way who I have admired and tried to emulate in terms of their work ethic and approach.
How did you go about getting your current job?
Prior to my current role, I was team coach of the Finance Operations area for three years and when the opportunity for promotion arose, I put myself forward.
I completed an interview with the Operations Manager and one week later I was offered the position. My predecessor had over 40 years’ experience and I was very lucky to have him as a mentor. With his guidance and support, I felt I was ready to take on the challenge.
Describe a typical day?
No two days are the same but my typical working hours are from 8.30 – 5.30 each day.
I compile a “to-do” list every evening before leaving the office and I prioritise what needs to be done each morning.
My days would mainly consist of making /receiving phone calls and sending/receiving emails, attending meetings and interactions with my team. I very rarely get through all items in any given day and for that reason prioritisation of tasks is key.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The main tasks and responsibilities are:
- Primarily responsible for collecting premiums from customers and intermediaries and tracking the reduction of overdue debt.
- Daily, weekly, monthly & quarterly reporting. Developing and implementing continuous improvement initiatives and projects. -Internal & external stakeholder management.
- Overseeing application of cash to business, execution of business requested payments through our banking partners, management of transactional banking services, bank reconciliation of bank and control accounts and direct debit default handling.
- Our team are also responsible for receipt and processing of supplier invoices for business expenses, management of supplier data and payment of business travel and employee expenses.
What are the main challenges?
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
I studied the required subjects such as Maths, English, Irish and opted for Accounting, Business Studies, French and Home Economics. I really enjoyed working with numbers and Business Studies gave me a good foundation of what to expect in the working environment. Accounting and Maths were my favourite subjects and they had a big influence on my course choice.
What is your education to date?
I attended St.Louis Secondary school in Carrickmacross, Co.Monaghan. Upon completing my leaving certificate, I studied one year of a three year Level 8 course in Accounting & Finance.
Further education opportunities came when I began working in Zurich Insurance – I have completed my Professional Diploma in Insurance (CIP) qualification with The Insurance Institute of Ireland (funded and supported by Zurich) and I am currently working towards my Management Diploma of Insurance (MDI).
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
With hard work always comes rewards and I feel my current role allows me to have a good lifestyle. Although my days at work can be quite long and demanding, I have every weekend free to spend with my family and friends. I have sociable working hours and my commute to the office is less than ten minutes. In my current role, I have also had the opportunity to travel to countries such as Switzerland, Germany & the UK. Working for a large multi-national like Zurich gives me great job security along with an excellent benefits package.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
In our organisation, continuous learning and personal development are encouraged. As part of my role, I attend training workshops on a regular basis which are facilitated by our learning and development team.
We also have access to an online academy where there is a library of courses available at our disposal.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?