How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?
I have known ABC since January 2003 when I first met him as a visiting lecturer at XYZ. He was among the best students in the subject of “General Insurance for Corporate Managers” at the institute. He went on to join our company as a Management Trainee in my Branch. Later he was promoted to Assistant Manager after passing the Licentiate Examination of the Insurance Institute of India (III).
What characteristics or attributes best describe the applicant?
Please find mentioned below the attributes that best describe him:-
- Perseverance – It his determination that saw him through complicated, high-value deals. He developed business with Government accounts (Public Sector undertakings such as The Indian Oil Corporation – IOC). Such companies earlier had well-established relationships with government-backed insurance companies – and thus very difficult to break into. ABC’s salesmanship, perseverance and customer management skills got us in.
- Process-Driven – ABC’s approach to work has been very methodical with emphasis on processes. He took the lead in reducing the Turnaround Time (TAT) for highly detailed oriented activities such as Policy Issuance, renewal notice generation and accounting.
- Outstanding Communication skills – an excellent communicator with good listening skills, he has handled the toughest of sales/customer situations with his patience and clarity of communications. His drafting skills have been way above ordinary as evident from his crisply-worded feasibility reports and project proposals.
In what area is the applicant most exceptional?
ABC is most exceptional in the area of Intellectual ability. He is very quick at learning new concepts and applying those. I have noticed this strength right from his days as a student.
When he was assigned to Fire & Engineering Insurance, he was quick to pick on the nuances of Risk Inspection. In less than a year one his clients remarked that his “assessments are as insightful as a seasoned underwriter”. He would extensively study the businesses of different industry clients (multiple industries) and develop shrewd pricing plans. I recollect a double digit reduction in the overall claim experience in his accounts – that being a key success parameter in the insurance industry.
As a client interface, he had the knack for understanding the clients’ business, identifying product-positioning opportunities and pitching those effectively. He was also exceptionally good at matching his product with the right buyer/prospect.
In what area does the applicant need the most improvement?
ABC joined this Organization as a Management Trainee. In the initial weeks, he found it somewhat difficult to multi-task and prioritize amongst the various tasks at hand. While he handled the situations effectively, I brought in some finer points on documenting and prioritizing activities. Over the next few business deals, I was impressed with his methodical approach and efficient management. I am very pleased to now see him handle national level goals with many product portfolios and diverse teams, large targets and different types of clientele.
Having said so, I believe the next leap in his career would be through international exposure. Working as a product manager for multiple countries will further enhance his abilities and is a further growth area.
How well do you feel the applicant handles disappointment or differences of opinion?
I’ve observed him to be very stable while handling disappointments. In a particular case, he had single-mindedly focused on closing a major deal. The proposal for the same had been revised a number of times already and a lot of energy invested. However, the deal narrowly missed internal approval since it did not meet a critical underwriting requirement (a detail that could be assessed only at a later stage). He was quick to learn from the setback and disconnect from the issue.
Being a rationalist, ABC’s reactions to differences of opinion were equally mature. Insurance proposals being a team effort, differences of opinion do arise. In such cases, he would often succeed at convincing others on his approach; he was well-respected for his knowledge and intelligence. At the same time, he would not react negatively when an alternative approach was implemented and would focus on best interests of the company.
Please indicate to which group you are comparing this candidate (i.e., co-workers, MBA graduates, etc):
I am comparing him with managers with similar background, education, experience and (leadership) responsibilites.
I would like to highlight additional talents that I noticed during various interactions. I found him to be equally active and enthusiastic beyond the work or business areas.
As a student at DEF, he took the initiative and assisted me in various teaching related tasks. He helped me develop content for certain modules for the course of “General Insurance for Corporate Managers”. I noticed his ability to explain complex concepts in a simplified manner when he took a session on the subject.
He also took the initiative of organizing many events beyond the work hours. He has to his credit a number of Volley Ball and Badminton matches, trips/excursions and social events (including festive celebrations) that really helped everyone unwind, build a team spirit and have a good time.
On the lighter side, he never misses the chance to create a humorous moment and is a pleasure to work with.