FULCRUM SPEAKS TO INSPIRATIONAL FIONA FITZPATRICK, WINNER OF THIS YEAR’S INSURANCE APPRENTICE
Q: Where did you start your insurance career?
A: Some may say I was born into the industry; others have said for years I have been an apprentice to John Fitzpatrick, my Dad. I have always had no doubt that this industry would ultimately become my life.
Officially, on paper, my career started straight out of school, on reception and doing some paper filing and making a mean cup of tea or coffee for visitors – with no clear career path or plan. This was at my Dad’s second specialist underwriting manager which he had started – H&L Underwriting Managers. At H&L, I was lucky enough to be exposed at a start-up phase to all aspects of the business, as we were a small team. Everything from underwriting, to claims to accounts and more, became my domain which gave me an overview of the broader aspects of running the company.
Unofficially, my career started when I was much younger where I did my school homework on the boardroom of corporate insurance companies or when I got roped into helping in the holidays putting together hard copies of policy wordings for pocket money when a new underwriting manager was being launched. Being exposed to the industry and the people in it showed me how this industry has propelled people forward when they’ve followed their individual paths and not only have they changed the lives of policyholders across the scope of the industry, their own lives, and their lives of their families have been affected positively by having found their purpose within the landscape of the insurance industry.
Q: What prompted you to enter The Insurance Apprentice?
A: After having a heated discussion with an industry colleague late last year, she stopped me and asked why I hadn’t entered The Insurance Apprentice. This stopped me briefly and I made a mental note of looking it up, as I had heard of it but I had never followed the show previously. When I found the show, I noticed at the same time that applications were open and I applied – not putting much thought into it.
A few months later, I started to receive correspondence from FA News and TIA Team and I realised that I had been accepted. It only started to really sink in then that I really do not know what I am in for – but my perpetual calmness prevailed. I went with the flow and I am so glad I didn’t panic and sign my application off as this experience has changed my life.
Q: What were some of the highlights as a participant in TIA?
A: It is always amazing to win something, especially when it was unexpected – as I entered this competition to see how far I could go. Words cannot describe simply just how excited I was to be announced as the winner with such incredible prizes sponsored by the insurance industry legacy companies – which I am still trying to fully digest.
It must be said though, a true highlight for me as a people’s person, was being able to spend time between filming, despite it being virtually filmed. The group of amazing minds who were with me in the Top 10. The insurance industry better look out because with that type of talent, it is sure going to be a dynamic environment to work in and witness these individuals rise to within their positions of leadership and making changes to so many people’s lives along the way.
Q: What were the best lessons learnt?
A: The biggest lesson for me throughout this competition is that the only limitations you have in life are those which are placed upon you by yourself, even when it feels that they are being placed upon you by others. Learning to believe in your own abilities in times of high pressure sometimes results in impressing yourself with what you can achieve.
Q: What advice do you have for future TIA entrants / or why should someone consider entering TIA?
A: The insurance industry is over 100 years old but it does not mean that there is no room for fresh talent and new ideas to spring about change and innovation.
If you have decided on your career path as being the insurance industry, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t enter – the worst thing that could happen is that you make a mistake and get sent home. To err is human, but to have the opportunity to test your knowledge will forever propel you forward in all levels of confidence, experience and you may even surprise yourself.
The show has the word ‘apprentice’ in the title for a reason and that reason is that you do not need to be a master to enter – you just need a bit of passion, a bit of luck and a can-do attitude.
Applications for season 8 of The Insurance Apprentice are now open – https://www.theinsuranceapprentice.co.za/apply/
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