It was Winston Churchill that first said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.  What a season and what a year for The Insurance Apprentice.  As a first-time sponsor CIB are proud to support this great initiative that brings excitement to the insurance industry as well as a provides a platform for the development and growth of our fellow industry colleagues.  We caught up with Rianet Whitehead, now that the dust has settled after hosting the first ever finale of TIA virtually, and the experience is still fresh in her mind.

What were some of your highlights of this year’s Insurance Apprentice 2020? 

Over the years people have come to realise that no year is the same… every year we are setting the bar higher for ourselves, and every year we manage to get it right. One of the highlights for me every year is the fact that we surprise the contestants with the complete unknown… we sometimes even surprise ourselves with the ideas we come up with.

The year’s contestants were a strong group from the onset and we knew that we will be up for some interesting challenges and conversations but never did we expect the extent of emotions we had… but it happened and it all really made for good viewership.

The tasks this year was extremely well aligned with industry and social issues we as an industry and country face at the moment, and I think the reason why we got it so spot on was because Simon Colman (Head Judge) and Charmaine Koch (CPD expert) got involved from the onset in the conversations and we really steered conversations and thought processes with sponsors to really tackle what is relevant head on. I thoroughly enjoyed all the tasks this year.

I value the judges more than anyone will ever know. Simon is the most incredible judge and person… and I often wonder if we would have been this successful without Simon’s input. Nadia Starr, co-judge this year, has impressed me more than I hoped for. I do believe that the two of them were the most effective and in-sync judging pair anyone could have asked for. Guest judges vary each year and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with the judges, which starts with task discussions and ends on a high note with the judging on the day. I have no doubt, and they all have said it, that the TIA experience is one of the highlights of their year!    

And then the finale… the night is still fresh in my memory and I cannot but praise God for the fact that everything went so smooth. Technology can be your best friend, but also your worst enemy… and on the night it can go either way. The night before, when we had a dry run, the Wi-Fi just died instantly, and it took us about 15 minutes to get everyone set up again… you can imagine that this made me somewhat nervous. We received an overwhelming amount of support on the night and compliments and good vibes literally streamed in the moment the event ended. I would like to believe that we have set the bar on how online events should be, and I still get goosebumps thinking back to what we have achieved on the night.

A clear highlight also for me was the new production team of TIA. We have been through a few, just because we grow and we have different needs as we grow, but I do believe Flash Forward has taken us to a new level… they completely understood our aim from the start and adding value was as critical for them as it was for us. They are definitely the perfect fit for us. 

You’re extremely passionate about the insurance industry and The Insurance Apprentice, where did it all start?

It all started with the need to make a difference in an industry we love… and a way to expand our already successful business model.

FAnews, a publication (print and digital) operating in the insurance and financial services industry is the foundation of our business… a business that was started by my late father.  To keep the legacy going  and to share the co-owners’ (Rianet Whitehead and Michelle Schreuder-Rankin) passion for the industry and the absolute need to change the perception of the industry, an idea of combining education and entertainment came about… an idea that was embraced by many who share the passion of improving our industry.

There are various reasons why we have started this. We believe we make this industry a better place by growing young (under 35’s) people to be the leaders of tomorrow; the leaders we so desperately need. We are adamant to change perceptions… showing everyone outside of our industry that insurance is not only about call centres and funeral policies; it’s an industry filled with a massive variety of skills. And with all of this, we educate people working in- and outside of our industry… not only do we give the contestants technical tasks, but they are also challenged to think about the environment, about social responsibility, general business principles and more. Learning happens for those taking part, and most certainly also for those watching.

The applications for TIA 2021 have opened, what advice or insight would you like to share with the under 35’s who are considering entering?

I do believe that the finale gave you a good insight into what happens during filming week. If you decide to enter you have to understand that you are putting yourself in the spotlight and that you will be well known in the industry after this. You will grow – on a personal and a professional level, and you will be seen as one of the leaders taking this industry forward. You don’t need to be an extrovert, that is very clear. If you feel you have been stagnating, not growing, and you are not sure how to take it to the next level, then please consider entering. If you are chosen, it means you are ready for the challenge; you are ready to meet new people, you are ready to be mentored, to be challenged, to learn, to be toughened up…

We have seen some incredible people taking on this journey, and they have all gone places… you can be the next one!

Many of you reading this will also know youngsters who qualify to enter, who you see as fit for the competition… please work with them, motivate them and if you have to… force them to enter. It’s a big decision, but it’s a decision no one has ever regretted taking.

Applications are open and will be closing 31 August 2020… let’s do this!