50 Years of Nurturing Young Professionals Leaves Gallagher Well-Positioned as the Talent Gap Looms
Every summer, Gallagher’s offices open its doors to more than 400 interns across the country.
For nine weeks, young professionals learn alongside experienced sales producers and consultants. They give presentations, shadow client meetings, participate in sales challenges and prepare mock proposals.
The internship isn’t just an opportunity for young professionals to develop their skills, however. It also creates a talent pipeline for Gallagher to draw from as it seeks to fill entry-level positions.
The program began in 1965 with one intern and has been a consistent source of young talent recruitment for the company. Many of the interns go on to work in regional and branch offices across the country.
“At Gallagher, one of our taglines is, ‘We help companies face their future with confidence,’ ” said Eric Taylor, director of global talent at Gallagher.
“Internships are a perfect example of helping a company face their future by building that strong pipeline for the future.”
With a looming talent crisis, many companies within the industry should take note of Gallagher’s success, both in recruiting young professionals and in creating a culture that helps the company thrive year after year.
Gallagher’s Intern Program Creates a Talent Pipeline
It’s no secret that the talent gap is one of the most pressing issues the insurance industry currently faces.
At this time, only 16% of insurance professionals think there will be enough graduates to fill open positions in risk management and insurance by 2025. The impending talent gap could leave the industry with 400,000 openings by 2020, according to a report from the Jacobson Group. Many industry leaders say that strong internship programs, like the one at Gallagher, could be a key to solving that crisis.
After their internships end, participants in Gallagher’s intern program have gone on to become sales producers and consultants or brokers.
Others continue to work in the insurance industry in clients services or underwriting roles.
“We need to continue to look out for our future,” Taylor said. “Internship programs obviously offer great future talent pipelines.”
Part of the reason Gallagher’s intern program has been so successful is because the internship gives college-aged students an inside look at both the sales process and the insurance industry as a whole.
By introducing students to the day-to-day lives of insurance professionals, the program helps dispel myths that insurance is a “boring” career choice. Instead, it teaches them that insurance is the undercurrent of everything that goes on in the business world.
“Pat Gallagher always says, ‘Insurance is the oxygen of commerce. We put people’s lives back together,’ ” Taylor said.
Charleston Mumphery was one such intern who learned how fulfilling insurance could be while working at Gallagher’s Atlanta office in the summer of 2018. He has since gone on to become a producer associate for Gallagher in the New York City office.
“My internship taught me that insurance is one of the best-kept secrets in business,” Mumphery said.
“I’ve got friends in a number of other industries — accounting, finance, etc. — and they’re kind of all intrigued by how much the insurance industry actually impacts and how much the insurance industry touches.”
Gallagher’s intern program is so compelling that many opt for a second internship with the company. Taylor estimates about 25% of interns return for a second year after completing their first internship with the company as sophomores in college.
Ground Your Internship in Company Culture
Developing a love of the insurance industry would not be possible for many of the program’s interns if it weren’t for Gallagher’s strong company culture.
“I think our interns love working for Gallagher, because they immediately feel the culture and the history of the organization,” Taylor said.
This was certainly true for Mumphery. Early on in his internship, Gallagher took the interns on a trip to Chicago, where they learned about the organization’s history and met with some of the executives.
“That week, we were able just to dive into Gallagher’s culture, and it’s an immense amount of culture,” Mumphery said.
“Just being able to learn the history and, not to mention, being able to network and meet other insurers and professionals who had begun their career at Gallagher, that was really unique.”
He added that through the internship, he was able to meet lifelong friends and mentors: “A lot of those people I’ve grown to have really close personal relationships with, and we keep in touch both personally and professionally.”
At Gallagher, the team knows that its strong company culture is one of the enterprise’s strengths. As a result, they’ve made sure to extend that culture through every position, whether it be an intern or a senior executive.
Taylor recommends that companies looking to build their own internship programs from scratch take a similar approach. Before creating the position, he recommended that program directors lay out their goals for the program and the company’s strengths and then “build the internship program around the company’s strengths,” he said.
An internship program will not be successful, however, without executive buy-in. Gallagher’s executives, many of whom — including chairman and CEO Pat Gallagher — were former interns themselves.
“Our interns get a very unique opportunity to engage with these former interns who are now in great roles all over the country and the globe,” Taylor said.
“It’s really our executives that have helped and supported and built this program since the ’60s, and I think their record speaks for itself.” &