Career Notes from a High-Ranking TPA Executive

Mike Hessling, CCO at Gallagher Bassett, knows risk management and insurance are great careers. How? They have a purpose, are filled with opportunity and are welcoming. 
By: | September 14, 2019

Mike Hessling knows risk management and insurance are a great career. How? Three main ways:

It has a purpose. Risk management and insurance have a social purpose, he said.

“Our industry is essential to business getting done and we serve people and businesses at a time when they are most vulnerable. The work we do is honorable, it matters – and always will.”

It’s filled with opportunity. This is an industry that encourages its professionals to chart their own course. There is great opportunity for success and growth whether as an individual contributor, a leader of a business or function or as an entrepreneur.

And it’s welcoming. “Our industry is very much focused on the future and realizes we need to attract and embrace new talent and perspectives to remain vibrant,” said Hessling. “As many experienced professionals head toward retirement, it is an excellent time to join and help shape the future of our industry.

“I’ve had the benefit of seeing many industries throughout my career,” said Hessling. “Though there are many things that separate risk management and insurance from other industries, I believe these three are the most important.”

Currently acting as the chief client officer at Gallagher Bassett, Hessling is doing his share to lead business development, client services and analytics. He is working hard to show just how vibrant the industry and Gallagher Bassett – can be to newly-minted risk professionals.

“Our industry provides protection, cares deeply about safety and restores businesses and lives each and every day,” he said. He said its critical to spread this message and dispel the misconception that insurance is solely focused on financial gain.

“Our industry does good, meaningful work – we need to highlight and celebrate this among ourselves and for the benefit of those who otherwise might not consider a career in insurance.”

In order to do just that, Hessling suggests that the industry work to remind itself and its people to remember why they are a part of the industry in the first place: to help.

“Doing so helps sustain us when challenges arise.”

He said the industry must also aim to seek, attract and retain a diverse group of talent: “This not only means diversity and inclusion in the traditional sense but also from a skills and capabilities perspective,” he said.

“To remain relevant, we will need individuals with new and exceptional skills in areas like analytics, technology and leadership disciplines to make sure our industry remains vital and exciting.”

Hessling’s own start in risk management and insurance began as a management consultant, where he gained appreciation for the importance of insurance in commercial organizations. He admired the large, diversified reach insurance had and the positive impact it could have on both individuals and businesses.

“When choosing to enter the insurance industry full-time,” he continued, “I thought about the opportunity [at Gallagher Bassett as] an exciting blend of everything I had loved in my career, in particular serving clients, problem solving and analytics.”

Seven years later, he said he’s more energized than ever by this industry and his role in it.

“I’m particularly excited to be able to make a difference in the businesses of our clients.”

As one of the industry’s leading TPAs, Gallagher Bassett has an extensive expertise that helps their clients deliver better outcomes for their organizations. From a director of risk at a Fortune 500 company through CEOs of large insurance carriers, Hessling and his team are meeting with and assisting clients across different industries.

Read More: 10 Reasons Why Insurance and Risk Management Is a Great Career

“The challenge, and what makes the job exciting, is that our clients have different priorities and operating environments, requiring us to listen, learn and customize to meet their needs.”

When a client succeeds, so too does Hessling: “I’m fundamentally motivated by the success of our clients and our team. When I see a public entity client save money for its taxpayers by instituting safety and wellness initiatives in partnership with GB, I’m proud. When a Fortune 500 retailer reduces its annualized losses by 10%, while growing its employee base and sales by over 25%, I’m proud. And when an insurance carrier turns to us as their claims partner and grows their business exponentially, I’m proud.”

Hessling added that his pride extends beyond clients and back to his colleagues.

“I love seeing team members recognized for their contributions to our business and industry as well.”

He even dished out a few accolades for the mentors who got him to where he is today, saying he is grateful to have had many great one throughout his career.

One in particular, he said, has been Gallagher Bassett’s president and CEO, Scott Hudson.

“He has an exceptional ability to set a vision and motivate others around him to be, and achieve, their best. I’ve grown a lot as a professional through his coaching and feedback, as well as through his strong role modeling for our organization.”

Insurance Going Strong

Hessling has some high hopes for the future of the industry. He believes that the next 10 to 15 years will see great change and growth. He broke that growth down into three parts:

  1. “You will see acceleration in the importance of organizational expertise in the form of best practices, analytics and decision support,” he said. The ability to harness insights across an organization and share those learnings with front-line team members will materially improve speed and quality of decision making.
  2. Next, the industry will increasingly look for providers to provide holistic solutions to help manage risk. “This means having breadth of capability across the risk and claims life cycle from safety consulting, to claims management, analytics and restoration,” he explained.
  3. And finally, Hessling said, none of this can be accomplished without successfully attracting and retaining exceptional talent to the industry. “Core roles and skills will remain vital to the insurance industry, but we will also see an influx of innovative thinkers who will challenge the status quo of how insurance is bought, served and fulfilled across the value chain.”

To fast-track that last point, Hessling said talking to young risk managers and insurers about the role of insurance in people’s lives and businesses is just the start.

“The idea that insurance provides protection, helps make our world safer and restores lives and businesses is not commonly understood by those outside of our industry. It’s important that young people know that the work we do matters.”

Insurance provides many fulfilling career opportunities, he continued. But the absolute best way to attract and retain new talent, he said, is to see others excited about it.

“It’s imperative we serve as ambassadors to this great industry.” &

Autumn Demberger is the content strategist at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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