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InsurTech Ohio Spotlight with Amy Cooper

Amy Cooper is the Founder and CEO of RISE Professionals, the voice of superstar young professionals who are looking for ways to share their innovative ideas, spread a new message about who the insurance industry is and propel their own careers. Amy was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.

Amy, what inspired you to create an organization focused on recognizing and supporting young professionals in insurance?

“When I entered the world of insurance, I attended my first big conference. There were CEOs on stage talking about a talent gap that was coming in five years. I started looking around for other young professionals and even searched for a young professionals group; there wasn’t one, so I started RISE.

At first, it was just me and my friends, and then it transitioned to a grassroots movement where we went out and recruited more people and built it from there. In career and in life, it’s not as much about what you know as it’s about who you know, so networking is critical in early career. That's why when I launched RISE, I launched it with an award for the top 10 rising young stars in insurance, which believe it or not, at the time that was the first time somebody had done that. We've grown it from there. Now, we have several awards like a 35 under 35, Mentor of the Year, LEAD Award and more.

When it got started, it was all about finding the amazing, rising stars of the industry, recognizing them and getting them connected to each other to boost their career. There are over 3,000 members nationwide, and they span all areas of insurance from underwriting and product to claims to brokers, it doesn't really matter. If you touch the industry, then we want to help bring you together, showcase all the different paths that there are in insurance and really be an aggregator for all the resources that someone would need when they're starting their career.”

Why is it so important for individuals early in their career to get involved in organizations like RISE?

“It's important to build your network both internally and externally because you never know who might end up being your boss or what company you might end up working for. The more networked you are, the more people that you know equals the more opportunities you'll have.

Networking is also a great way to find a mentor and create those types of relationships that can give you advice or help in your career. Having a mentor within your company is amazing as they can act as a sponsor to be your voice when you’re not in the room. They can help promote you within your organization. Having a mentor outside of your organization can provide so much more support for you as a professional to grow within your career and life. I've had so many over the years. My first mentor was back when I was in college. I remember the first time I asked someone to be my mentor - a woman who was doing business development as an executive in Fort Lauderdale that I looked up to. I came to her with my list of reasons she should be my mentor. Here's my goals, this is what I'm willing to commit, will you do this?

Every mentor I've had along the way has had a big impact in my life, and I attribute much of my success to the support I’ve received. Even my current role came from someone that I consider a mentor. Your mentor could help you with leadership skills, public speaking, standing up for yourself and even job opportunities.”

What are some ways RISE supports networking and mentorship within the industry?

“We have a mentorship program that runs every fall and spring. It's a three month commitment with only six meetings. We pair folks across the country cross-functionally with people that they would never meet normally or really interact with in their actual jobs that they can go to for advice. We have designed six sessions that they walk through with their mentor. When they come out of the program with a great relationship, they can keep it going, and a lot of people do. But, the guided piece is teaching folks how to start a mentorship relationship with accountability. This fall, we had 150 people in our mentorship program, which is pretty big. Many companies don't even have programs that big. There are a lot of people that we've been able to pair and who've built relationships with others they would have never met, but for the program.

In addition to that, from a networking perspective, we have four different committees that you can get involved with that offer different leadership opportunities. If you're looking to put something on your resume and want to learn how to be a leader, getting involved in taking on some of those roles and responsibilities in our committees is helpful.

Then we have our local-networking events, our Road to the RISE awards where we're popping up around the country doing localized networking. We have our annual leadership summit in June with roughly 500 people, so come, network and learn.”

What do you see on the horizon in terms of growth for the organization and ways in which you want to impact members?

“I definitely see us growing our educational opportunities. We launched an innovation bootcamp that's a virtual, three-day intensive course taught live by professors who are innovation experts across our industry. We plan to grow our different programs, helping young professionals hone their soft skills by focusing on leadership and innovation.”

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