The Insurance Apprentice - Meet the finalists

Gillian Riley
Sales Resolution /operations

Did you choose a career in insurance or did you fall into the industry like so many others? Briefly share your story.
I was fresh out of Durban (and varsity) and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I started working in cellular retail as a start and was quite successful, but two of my colleagues were applying to work at OUTsurance and I had no idea about insurance… I asked myself what harm it would do in going for an interview, and I am forever grateful that my 20-year-old self had the ability to be fearless and attempt something that was entirely out of my comfort zone. The interview went really well (I had them laughing at least) and I received the good news a week later that I was successful. Fast forward 5 years and Insurance had become my life – I ate, slept and breathed the brand that I was working for and made life-long friendships as an added bonus to the entire process, I then made the journey to Cape Town, where I started working at Santam, and although the companies varied greatly, the challenges, the people, being part of the transformation of Santam Direct, has been and continues to be, a blessing and a daily joy.
Why did you choose to enter The Insurance Apprentice?
I entered The Insurance Apprentice because when it first began, my colleagues recommended that I entered. I had changed roles at the time and was concerned that my capacity would be affected, and being the person, I am, I don’t like to spread myself too thin for fear of mediocre delivery, hence I opted not to at the time. Needless to say, the seed had been planted. Being a fan of The Apprentice (the show) and with my love of insurance, what better an opportunity to showcase my ability and challenge myself! I am also inherently competitive (if there is a 30 seconds game board anywhere near me, you best watch out guys) and thought that this would be an exciting challenge for me to gauge my own strengths.

I am hoping to gain networking opportunities and to learn from my competition. I believe that anything that challenges you, teaches you, and I am always open to learning. Insurance is often seen as a grudge purchase, which is complicated and arduous, so I am hoping to change the public’s opinion, showing them that insurance can be interesting and that it is a necessity in our country.

In your mind, what qualities should an ambassador of The Insurance Apprentice have?
I believe that the ambassador of TIA should be a person who has sound knowledge and experience of the industry, and a holistic understanding of how the industry works. The ambassador should have utmost integrity and passion for the work that they do because without passion, a job is just a job, not a career. Above all else, the ambassador of TIA should be authentic in their interactions, statements and general state of being.
Who has been the biggest influencer on your career and why?
I have multiple!! I am very fortunate in that I have had many amazing bosses and mentors and I have learnt a myriad of skills from them and their experiences. I have incredibly high standards of myself, so in terms of my biggest influencer and critic; I can honestly say that I am too.
In a tweet of 140 characters explain why insurance ROCKS!!!
Work in progress  – watch this space!!!
What would be your dream Apprentice task and why?
My dream Apprentice task would be to find an insurance solution/product that specifically meets the needs of those who are not in a position to afford it. Oftentimes, townships in Cape Town (and nationwide) are devastated when natural disaster strike, and this leaves families who are already struggling, completely destitute. Everybody should have the right to have peace of mind for their stability, but the current state of the nation does not allow for this.
What song would you choose for your Insurance Apprentice victory dance and why?
DJ Khaled “All I Do Is Win” feat. Ludacris, Rick Ross, T-Pain & Snoop Dogg
A message to all the TIA sponsors?
I think that this is an amazing initiative that allows the industry to be exposed in a more entertaining light, and it allows for public perceptions to change. A MASSIVE thank you to all the sponsors – this competition would not be possible without you!!!
How important is winning for you?
Winning is everything!!! Anyone who says otherwise is, in my opinion, is being inauthentic. The experience alone is such a great opportunity to network and to learn but bringing home the grand prize and jet setting to Lloyd’s definitely wouldn’t hurt!!

Spoiler title
Listen to the entire task before jumping into solution mode!!! This is my area of improvement, as I am very solution focused. The concern there is that if the entire task is not understood, the solution may very well not be fit for purpose, rendering the exercise pointless 

Keep a level head and breathe! I tend to be quite excitable, so my challenge will definitely be to keep my wits about me, and to think about the task at hand holistically, whilst remaining cool and calm.