Insurance: The Career that Can Take You Places if You Let It

By Andreas Kleiner, President and CEO, American Modern Insurance Group, Inc.

As a young professional, you may have landed in the insurance industry by complete accident. This, in fact, happened to me.

When Berlin was bidding on the 2000 Olympic Games, I was an engineer working feverishly on the design for several Olympic structures.

Then Sydney, Australia won the bid and everything I had been working on collapsed. It made me think about my next career move and I saw an exciting job advertisement by Munich Re that fit my profile. I applied and then joined Munich Re as a fire engineer. I knew nothing about insurance but I thought, “if you don’t like it you can always move back to a full-fledged engineering job”.

Many years later, I am still in the insurance industry, and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have learned that this is an industry that can give you a world of opportunity – if you are open to it.

International insurance companies regularly have difficulties finding employees interested in taking an assignment in another country. A move like this is not for everyone. However, I would encourage you to consider taking the leap. Many times international opportunities offer the chance to work in a smaller business unit that allows you to have a broader general management type role, gaining exposure to many different aspects of the business. This is of great importance for those interested in moving up the corporate ladder into an executive role. You must be well-rounded and well-versed to be considered for high-level positions.

I never expected to work abroad when joining Munich Re but in less than three years with the company I was offered the chance to go to Singapore and lead the establishment of a risk engineering operation for South East Asia. The move to Singapore and other countries helped my career progress in such a diverse way that it eventually led to my current position at American Modern.

"Working abroad is not just about career growth... It helps you to become more receptive and tolerant towards different ways of living. "

Working abroad is not just about career growth. Working and living in a different country and learning about a different culture can also be a personally enriching and wonderful experience. It helps you to become more receptive and tolerant towards different ways of living. I met my wife in Singapore and made life-long friends while working and living in four different continents over the last two decades. And I hear from my two daughters that the greatest gift that we as parents gave to them is exposing them to life in different countries – in our case Singapore, South Africa, Germany and the USA.

Insurance is the sometimes accidental career that can take you around the world – but, only if you let it. If you have ambition, a desire to learn, and you’re open to new experiences, then consider international assignments and make it known that you are interested in these opportunities. Based on my own experience and the experiences that have been shared with me by other leaders, I don’t think you will regret saying “yes.”

Read more articles like this in the 2019 RISE Awards Magazine or request a copy to be mailed.

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