Lessons Learned in 2020
Normally December is one of the busiest months of the year for the insurance industry. Many people are preparing for their 1/1 renewals, and many more are enjoying Christmas parties, drinks and events happening across the city, whilst still trying to finish everything before the close of year. Although renewals and end-of-year work has not changed, the office party has moved online, and we have not been able to see our friends and colleagues in the way that we would have hoped. At this time, it is also important to reflect on the year that has been and start thinking about what is to come in 2021.
This year, as Chair of NGIN, it has been a privilege to see all of the amazing work carried out by our committee, advocates, executive ambassadors, partners, sponsors and members, and how they have all risen to challenges thrown by 2020. In many ways, this year is not how I thought it would be for NGIN, but I have some takeaways, which I would like to share.
1. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry
One of our first meetings in 2020 as a committee was a retrospective on 2019 and how we would improve what we do for our members in the coming year. We scoped out a number of initiatives and had a pipeline of in-person events taking us well into the middle of the year. However, in March, as the seriousness of Covid-19 became very apparent, we had to cancel everything. Initially, we didn’t realise that the lockdown would last as long as it did (has) and the ways in which it will permanently change the way we live and work. We didn’t have a backup plan. We thought we could ride it out and that we could come back as the in-person, event-focussed NGIN we are loved for. We were wrong. By the time we got to June, we knew we had to change how we deliver NGIN to our members and communities and so we worked together on building a plan to come back stronger and more resilient than before. In short, we learned that we need to have back-up plans and to think the unthinkable.
2. Metrics don’t tell the full story
In 2019, we delivered 11 events and led a number of initiatives throughout the year. In 2020, we have had five events and welcomed new committee members. On the face of it, our output as a committee has been less than half of the year before. However, behind the scenes everyone has been working to future-proof NGIN. We have taken the opportunity to refine our mission statement, deepen our relationships with our partners, sponsors and affiliates, and focus on getting high-quality and engaging events to our members. What hasn’t changed is our passion as a committee to empower our members. One of our most popular events this year was How to Become Financially Resilient in 2020 & Beyond with Castell Wealth Management and the recording of the event can be viewed here.
3. Being isolated doesn’t mean we can’t be connected
Traditionally, NGIN has been a very in-person focussed, London-centric organisation. Our events were almost exclusively within the Square Mile and always in person. Our committee meetings were the same. We have had to change that this year and we have found new ways of working together. As a committee, we are communicating more than ever and are working more as a team; checking up on each other and not just if a task has been complete. That is something that I have been very proud to see. Additionally, it’s been fantastic to widen the scope of NGIN and welcome people who could not previously get to our events into the community. Next year, we will be working to make sure that we connect with our members even more and serve as their voice in the industry and beyond.
4. It’s a very different skillset to connect with people virtually
“Sorry, you’re on mute” has to be the catchphrase of 2020. At times during the year, it has felt like I have been living at work and onscreen. A lot of my role at NGIN is meeting our members, sponsors and partners and discussing ways we can work together. It has been a challenge for me personally to learn how to better connect virtually and how to lead the team. However, it has been an important lesson and one that I am getting more used to. Zoom and online conferencing tools have been a lifesaver, but it’s been hard to “read the room” and also to recreate the buzz of being around a table collaborating. I’ve found that I’ve been able to talk to more people about NGIN and have more focussed discussions. As we go into 2021, I’m looking forward to learning to build my virtual presence but also not forgetting the fundamentals of meeting with people, when it is safe to do so.
5. Collaboration is the future
Of the events we hosted, three have been in collaboration with other organisations: DiveIn,Recruitment Bias with iCAN, and M&A with KMPG and Willis. We are very proud to be a partner network of Inclusion@Lloyd’s, a member network of the London Young Professional Network, and, as of this year, affiliated with YGIN, which seeks to connect future leaders in insurance across the world. As a committee, we have loved working with other organisations, having different conversations and sharing our perspectives. In 2021, that trend is set to continue and I’m excited to share our planned events for the New Year.
2020 has certainly come with its challenges, many of which few of us had foreseen. However, I think we have learned some important lessons as a network, and I have also enjoyed building solutions with our committee to the issues we faced. I’m incredibly proud to lead NGIN and I’m very excited to see our network’s continued growth into the New Year.
I hope that as the year draws to a close that you have a restful, joyous and magical festive season, and that the New Year brings you peace, happiness and prosperity.