Miri joined us in March this year from an insurance claims management company, and has now brought that knowledge, along with enthusiasm and a keen attitude to learn, to her role as a Commercial Account Handler with us here at Talbot Jones Ltd. She has just completed her Certificate in Insurance achieved her Cert CII designation from the Chartered Insurance Institute after being with us for only seven months, so we asked her about her experience so far, and this is what she said…

Tell us what’s been keeping you so busy lately!

Before joining the Talbot Jones team, the thing I was most excited about was the prospect of networking and building relationships with clients, something that just wasn’t possible in my previous insurance job. I arrived at Talbot Jones with a real excitement to be thrown in at the deep end, working and meeting with an array of charities, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations in the North East. However, only a week in to my time at Talbot Jones, we hit the nationwide lockdown, and sadly, as with everyone else in the country, a lot of the things I’d hoped to do and experience in my first few weeks and months at work weren’t able to happen.

But before I was able to get too downcast, Richard quickly reminded me that lockdown would be a really great time to use that extra time I now had where I wasn’t ‘out and about’, to revise towards the first of my three CII exams, with a view to achieving my Cert CII by March 2021. My initial reaction? 1) “YIKES that sounds scary and like a lot of work alongside a day job” and 2) My often extroverted nature thought: “That doesn’t sound anywhere near as exciting as networking and being ‘out and about’.” However fast forward 7 months later and just this week I have completed all three exams required to gain my Cert CII qualification and learned a lot about myself along the way. Lockdown really did bring new opportunities for me, allowing me to not see hard work and revision as ‘scary’ and ‘boring’ but actually a brilliant growing exercise where I learned so much not just about insurance, but also myself and how I work!

Why did you take on the challenge?

I wanted to complete the Cert CII because initially, Richard and Clare told me I should do it… BUT I quickly realized just how beneficial studying for these exams was, not only from a technical insurance perspective, giving me a better base-knowledge when talking with clients, but also from a professionalism perspective, as I found that as I passed each exam, I was growing in confidence in my own abilities as an Account Handler, and was starting to feel like a bona-fide, and more qualified, Insurance Broker!

I had also got to the point in life where I was ready for a new challenge. I was excited to have found a career that seemed to suit my natural strengths and abilities, therefore naturally, I was really keen to excel in my career as an Insurance Broker, and I felt that achieving my Cert CII as quickly as possible was the best way to get started (the financial incentive for once I’d achieved my Certificate also didn’t hurt either!).

What did you find challenging?

I encountered some challenges towards the end of my Cert CII journey, primarily last month at the point when I was two weeks away from my final CII exam. Within this couple of weeks, I had also (excitingly) just begun the teaching for my Senior Leaders Degree Apprenticeship MSc with Newcastle Business School, but had also just made a rather last minute decision to enroll for an exam in Damage Management with only a few days’ notice. Looking back, I think I found that juggling those three things alongside doing my Commercial Account Handling day job was pretty tough at the time!

What did you learn?

I learned that, as much as I hate to admit it, I function far more efficiently when I do have a lot going on! Apparently, it’s often human nature that to an extent, the more we have on, the more we are able to get done! I think that if someone had told me all those months ago when we initially went in to lockdown that I would be juggling all those different things at the same time, I would have probably felt quite overwhelmed and confused, presuming that lockdown was going to be a time of ‘chilling out’ and definitely not doing more work than I have ever done! But amazingly, with the gentle and direct combination of encouragement from both Clare and Richard, I quickly found myself seeing each exam as a really exciting opportunity to learn more, and discovered that I do actually have a pretty hard work ethic.

I also learned that I am a rather odd combination of being a bit of a perfectionist, but often lacking confidence in my own abilities (this is much to my relentlessly encouraging mother’s frustration!). I very often feel that I need to be 100% prepared when I go in to any sort of pressurized situation: Once when out for a meal, and much to my husband’s amusement, I actually wrote notes on the back of my food receipt to have as a prompt when complaining to the restaurant we were at that they had significantly overcharged us for our food… So, when Richard suggested that I book my 2nd CII exam with less than a week’s notice, I must admit, I slightly freaked out! However, I quickly learned that being ‘over-prepared’ sometimes just isn’t possible, nor is it wise, and this ‘perfection’ that I had heralded, actually just isn’t possible for anyone! I did as much work as I could in the short time that I had, and surprised myself in passing with 84%, and I had saved myself weeks of worry and work! A #lifehack if ever there was one!

What next?

It’s been really great to reflect on the last 7 months of work at Talbot Jones, and to see my confidence in my own abilities return somewhat after a number of years spent doubting my own abilities both academically and professionally. I am extremely thankful to Richard and Clare for creating so many wonderful opportunities to allow me to constantly surprise myself in my work, and for creating an environment that is both inspiring and nurturing for their staff. I now look forward to entering a new season of change, with no more exams for the foreseeable future, but with lots of coursework and reading… wish me luck!