Standing out from the crowd
Graduates and job seekers alike could learn a thing or two from Iva Taylor about how to outshine the rest in todays tough employment market.
Miss Taylor was chosen as the very first Bermuda graduate into the Global Catlin Development Programme (CDP) which was piloted in the UK in 2009 as a two-year programme with the aim of deepening the companys talent pool.
Not only do the applicants have to be outstanding students with degrees from top universities.
But they must also undergo verbal and numeric reasoning tests and achieve top scores that are commensurate with the results from not just Bermuda, but from a global perspective.
Then there are a series of interviews and assessments which look for a good fit with Catlin.
Miss Taylor, 30, agrees its daunting, but as she said: You have to really want it and believe its worth it.
So how did she stand out?
By doing her homework, including not only learning everything about the company and department she was applying to work for, but by going further and learning about Catlins core values and coming up with specific examples of how she has demonstrated those values in her past experiences.
Throughout the selection process, as I learned more about Catlins reputation and met its friendly staff, I could see myself working there and fitting in, and I wanted the selection committee to be able to see me working there as well, Miss Taylor said. Therefore, I was very specific about what I found interesting about the Trade Credit department and how I wanted to progress at Catlin, and how the CDP would help me achieve my goals.
Additionally, I demonstrated knowledge of the company and how I could contribute. For example, their core values include adaptability and teamwork, and instead of simply saying Im a team player and flexible, I gave detailed examples from previous work experience and university of situations where I demonstrated these values which illustrated how I could bring them to Catlin.
A graduate of Cornell University with a BA degree in Economics and a Masters degree in Economics and Finance from Nottingham Trent University, Miss Taylor was chosen for the programme out of 28 students who applied from Bermuda.
She said her intention was to become an investment analyst, and had never really considered entering the insurance industry.
However, she saw the CDP advert in The Royal Gazette, and went on to read on Catlins website about the companys various departments.
I learned about products such as insurance against the risk of a currency devaluing or a government seizing property, or a spokesperson losing his reputation. I was interested in the Trade Credit business because it was similar to what I liked doing in my internship, which was fundamental analysis of various companies, and I was excited to apply.
Since being selected, Miss Taylor has worked in the Bermuda office and embarked on training in London, which included a team building exercise at a nature retreat in the Lake District.
She also has had the opportunity to interact with brokers in the historic Lloyds building.
This year she is looking forward to gaining a better understanding of how all the different departments work together through her rotations, and developing her analysis skills and underwriting knowledge even further.
She will also have the opportunity for more travel.
I recently completed a three-month rotation in London, my favourite (so far) city in the world and this summer I will be meet with the full CDP cohort will meet for a week Zurich. Everyone has told me how beautiful it is, and that the locals swim in Lake Zurich during their lunch break.
The most enjoyable part of the experience so far, she said, has been realising that being part of the CDP is as great as I had imagined it to be, because I get to use what I learned in my favourite subjects every day. My mentor at Catlin, Derek Ratteray, provides valuable feedback and advice.
Aiming high, Miss Taylor says ultimately she would like to be CEO, but her focus for the short to medium term is on becoming a Political Risk and Credit underwriter with a reputation for being among the most knowledgeable, efficient and professional in the field.
Her advise for fellow students and grads in Bermuda to excel, is to learn about all the career opportunities available in Bermuda, even the ones you dont think would be relevant to you or youd be qualified for.
You never know how your passion in one field can intersect with another industry, and insurance draws people from all sorts of backgrounds — for example an astrophysicist is the head of the Aerospace underwriting in London.
Get work experience, here and abroad, as often as you can. Stay up to date with the latest developments within your field, because it will help you to understand management meetings and presentations.
As to my success, its down to hard work, persevering when things dont go as planned, and the support and guidance of my family and my mentor Cynthia Cox. Stephen Catlin has a saying - the harder I work, the luckier I am. Thats been my experience so far.
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