At GAMA International’s 2012 LAMP conference, being held at the Marriott World Center Resort hotel in Orlando, National Underwriter Senior Editor Warren Hersch sat down for an exclusive interview with GAMA President Kenneth Gallacher and President-elect Luis Chiappy. The following are excerpts.
Hersch: Tell me about GAMA’s new program, Leading from the Front. What are its goals and objectives? How is the program distinguished from other training initiatives that GAMA offers?
Gallacher: The new training program fills a vacuum in our current training initiatives: developing middle and front-line managers who have recently moved into a management role. The program is for those for have already committed to working in management. The new program will include a workbook, online training, and two full-day events.
Our other training programs include Elements of Leadership, which is about giving personal producers an opportunity to try out a career in management. Our Essentials is for people who have served in a management role for a period of time and now want to go to next level: either running a larger agency or taking an existing agency to a higher level of production.
Chiappy:Think of the programs as part of a continuum in training. Leading from the Front, for which we just finalized the curriculum, will likely be launched within the next quarter. Two companies that we can’t now name are piloting the program. Depending on their feedback, we may need to do some fine-tuning.
What makes our programs unique is that they’re not just based on research or analytical work, but also best practices and industry leaders who assist us in putting together methods and curricula that are field-tested to work.
Hersch: Which financial services companies will benefit from the leadership training initiatives?
Gallacher: Our core focus at GAMA remains on the career agencies that are building out their distribution channels. Other financial services firms, such as producers groups, are not a primary target for these programs.
Hersch: How much can these companies expect to invest in the new training initiative?
Gallacher: We haven’t come up with a cost to implementing training under this program. But given the amount of training involved, we expect the investment outlay will be fairly minimal compared to what the companies can expect [in terms of return on investment.]
Hersch: What results have career agencies achieved with your training programs?
Gallacher: Nearly 2,700 people have been through our Essentials program. The testimonials have been tremendous. But it’s hard to quantify the return on investment because it’s difficult isolate the effect of the training from results agencies might otherwise have achieved without it. But I can say the courses have been very popular with the companies we serve.
Chiappy: More members are joining the organization. More people are getting involved in our training programs. And we’re improving our metrics across the board. This all a validation that our strategy is the right one and that we’re meeting the needs of the marketplace.
Hersch: I’ve noted the many international members here at the LAMP conference. Given the differences among cultures, how might training needs vary across countries?