Insurance Day at Mihaylo College offered something for everyone; networking, speeches, feedback on interviewing skills and even free pizza and cotton candy! But the highlight of the day for many students wasn’t the free pizza or cotton candy, but the keynote speech by Tom Nerney, president, chairman and CEO of USLI. With his years of experience, Nerney spoke to a packed room about his journey, the company culture at USLI and the perks of working in Insurance.
He started out by saying students should be “very excited” about what Mihaylo College is doing with the Insurance Studies program.
He then explained to the overcrowded room that he is not the type of business leader who wants to work in a publicly traded company, “I did that once and it’s not for me.”
He moved to USLI, but when there was talk about the company going public, Nerney made the effort to instead find investors and a partner. Thanks to a mutual friend, Nerney partnered with none other than Warren Buffet, who to this day has granted Nerney his request of never having meetings or turning in business plans.
In addition to a non-existing business plan in a company that grew from 40 employees to more than 700 under Nerney, USLI lacks some other “fundamental” things.
“We have no handbook; we have no rules; we have no HR Department, we don’t believe in that,” he says. “It’s all about recruiting the right people.”
Instead of spending time with formal rules, handbooks and HR departments, USLI spends more effort on recruiting the right type of employee; according to Nerney this means someone who wants to work rather than is forced to work.
“Is there a way to get people to want to work, as opposed to making them work?”
One former student who joined the insurance world because of his desire to work is Alex Mungia. Mungia attended Insurance Day and even volunteered to work the event before he graduated in 2011.
Now representing Brown & Brown as a claims representative, Mungia has nothing but good things to say about his field and the many areas where students can get involved depending on their skills and interests.
“I was a volunteer with the CIS (Center for Insurance Studies)… and I remember volunteering and seeing all these companies, all these professionals come in, and letting them know that I was interested in a career in insurance,” Mungia says. “It’s funny now that I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum.”
He urges students to have an open mind about the insurance field and to explore the many options that are available. According to Mungia, there is always a good fit for your skill set and what you enjoy doing when it comes to the insurance industry.
“I love it, I’ve been there since I graduated in 2011,” Mungia says of Brown & Brown. “I would recommend to anybody who has never thought about a career in insurance to check it out. There are many opportunities out there, lots of companies are always hiring.”
Whoever said insurance is boring never attended Insurance Day at Mihaylo College. Throughout the day, Mihaylo’s courtyard and conference rooms were filled with guest speakers, human resources panels and a priceless opportunity to network.
“We have an expression at USLI and I’d say that I’ve applied that in business… and that is to be all-in (Ollin), which means to jump in heart first. It means to put yourself entirely into it. It doesn’t mean to jump in with one foot or two feet, it means to jump in all the way,” reflects Nerney on working in insurance. “Whatever you’re trying to do, the more “in” you are, the more chances of you succeeding, and I think the greatest chances of you being happy in what you do.”
Check out the video highlights of Insurance Day below.