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InsurTech Ohio Spotlight with Joe Njeru

Joe Njeru is the Director of Business Development at Secured Advantage, providing the tools independent insurance agents need. Joe was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, Co-Founder at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.

Joe, can you share with us the mission behind the Insurance & Risk Management Academy (IRMA) at Ohio Dominican University (ODU) and your motivation to start it?

“Like many folks in the industry, we’re tackling the issue of finding the right type of perpetuation plan for our agencies, and the talent coming into the industry may not necessarily understand the real value of these positions opening up. The perception of the industry has always been very poor, so the goal here was to create a positive environment for students to really experience the opportunities that are there. 

We talk to that math major, computer science major or even biology major and find pathways for them in the risk management and the insurance industry as oftentimes, these folks have not fully considered our industry as a potential pathway. We do this by creating a positive environment to learn, to grow and also get exposed to those opportunities out there. Encova Insurance, Secured Advantage and the risk management program here at ODU came together to make this happen, and it's been super fun and successful so far. We're really enjoying the momentum that we're building right now.”

How’s the curriculum built, and what are some of the objective goals for these students?

“We take a holistic approach when designing the curriculum the students follow while in the program. With emphasis on exposure, we ensure that we introduce the various areas that make up the insurance industry, highlighting all of the opportunities that are available in each area. Students are typically in the program for 2-4 years, and in that time, we want the candidates exposed to the fields that align with their passion and be able to fully understand what they want to get into when they graduate and enter the workforce.

For example, take the math candidate I referenced in the first question. We can tailor the curriculum to include a week where we have an actuary or a premium auditor coming to speak with the group on how their majors shaped their work. Not only do we get that buy-in from the student, but we also create a connection for the student that they can rely on as they complete their undergrad.” 

How are partnerships playing a key role in building out this educational program?

“It plays a vital role. On top of introducing students to as many facets of the industry as we can, we want them to hear from these folks as well. As I mentioned earlier, our curriculum builds in time for industry professionals to come talk to our students. For IRMA to fully live out its purpose, it's key that we engage with a wide/diverse group of people, groups, organizations, etc. to get our students exposed to all that's out there.

From internship opportunities to full-time employment to understanding the needs in the industry to ensure our curriculum stays relevant, these are all areas that we want to rely on our external partners as much as possible. Moreover, it’s important for our students to hear from different voices and perspectives, in further communicating the message that this is a vast industry with a lot of possibilities.”

What does success for this program look like?

“It goes back to the first question we discussed: can we share the right perspective of our industry to as many students as possible? Simply put, getting as many of the students from the program into the industry in all the diverse roles that the industry offers based on the diverse background of the candidates that go through the program.

Expansion would also be a sign of success for us. I think expansion is getting this program to be as popular as possible not only here at ODU but at other institutions. And yes, we think this is the right blueprint to get candidates into our industry in a positive environment that allows them to fully explore all the opportunities out there. We're constantly looking for all the different ways we can keep expanding this wonderful program.”


Can you share about a student who benefited from this program?

“In the fall of 2020, the Insurance and Risk Management Academy (IRMA) welcomed our first group of students and even though we were all going through the difficulties of the pandemic, we were excited to start this new venture at ODU. One of the students that joined us was a non-traditional student that was looking at changing careers. They knew they wanted to do something HR related but wasn’t quite sure the best way to approach that. 

After joining IRMA, they appreciated the curriculum and were intrigued by all the concepts that were discussed and introduced. They also had the opportunity to take on a few internships with some of our external partners in underwriting and HR. As they were gearing up for graduation, they had already received an offer in underwriting from one of the companies they interned with, but it wasn't necessarily what they wanted. 

We introduced them to another one of our partners who had an opening in Learning and Development in their HR department and perfectly lined up with what they wanted to do from the beginning. We’ve had other candidates graduate from the IRMA program and move on to successful careers in Insurance, but this particular example speaks volumes to the value proposition for the IRMA program.”



InsurTech Ohio Thanks Its Presenting Partner

And Our Premier Partners



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