Case Study: The Chubb Group
- Neil Doherty, Frederick H. Ecker Professor of Insurance and Risk Management and Chairperson of the Insurance and Risk Management Department
- A diverse faculty in leadership, entrepreneurship, ethics, management, human resources, finance, technology, strategy, and marketing
- To improve the business skills of independent agents and strengthen their relationships with Chubb
- Improved leadership and management of agents
- Increased sales for Chubb
Learning in Action: Agents Immediately Apply Insights From Chubb Program
How could the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies give its top independent agents the knowledge to build their businesses while strengthening their relationships with the company? Chubb worked with Wharton to create a week-long Executive Leadership Development Program for its top-tier agents. Over three years, more than 180 agents participated in the program, which covers such issues as innovation and entrepreneurship, value creation, leadership, and management of people and resources, and includes as sessions on industry topics. The program is designed to give the agents insights that they can immediately apply to running their businesses.
What's on Your Desk Now
What attracted Chubb to Wharton was its extensive experience in the industry, including an academic department devoted to insurance and risk management (the first of its kind in the world) and diverse executive programs in insurance. "What I liked initially about Wharton was that they had some understanding of the industry, which is important," said Elizabeth McDaid, Agency Education Manager at Chubb. "You want an educational institution to give you a view from 50,000 feet, but there has to be a tie-in back to the industry. We need to bring it back down to what's on your desk now."
Applications and "action learning" have been key components of the program. Before they arrive, participants are asked to create strategic goals related to topics addressed during the program, and to consider opportunities for strategic partnerships with Chubb. This advance work gives participants an initial hypothesis that they can test during the program. "We like a very interactive, learner-engaged program," McDaid said. "The professors ask a lot of questions of the group and keep them involved."
In addition to small-group discussions and exercises, an industry panel on the final day ties discussions of participants' current challenges and goals directly back to the current industry environment. While Wharton's industry expertise was the first attraction, the flexibility and responsiveness of the design team are what have impressed McDaid the most. "They are extraordinarily open to ideas," she said. "We have strong ideas about adult learning. We see this as a dynamic process, and the program is never done. Wharton is right there with that. They are always asking: 'How can we do it better?' I appreciate the flexibility and the same work ethic and quality standards we have."
The focus on applications and action learning means the program produces immediate and ongoing returns for participants. The program has been so well received that Chubb and Wharton developed an additional three-day advanced program on leadership and negotiations. Graduates of that program are organizing reunion programs on their own. "There is a lot of value when you can take an entrepreneur away from the office for a week, and they say it was one of the best weeks they ever spent," McDaid said.
More successful and more loyal agents lead to more sales for Chubb. "When they win, we win," McDaid said. "We believe very strongly that our success depends on the success of the independent agents."
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