I read with interest a Wall Street Journal report about a veteran AIG employee who retired at age 79, after 62 years with AIG. That’s right, 62 years. Manuel “Manolo” Rodriguez began his tenure with AIG as an 17-year-old messenger in Cuba, ending his career as head of AIG’s Puerto Rico offices.

My own father saw a similar journey, starting at age 16 as a messenger at Walker Manufacturing (the muffler manufacturer that is now a Tenneco Company), and retiring (albeit early at age 54) as the company’s corporate credit manager. Even into the mid 80’s, I heard my father’s drum beat of counsel in phrases such as “loyalty pays,” “don’t be a job-hopper,” and other, implausible pieces of advice.

Fast forward to 2016, and based on the behavior of certain demographic groups, this type of long-term tenure with one company is not necessarily seen as a positive. Haven’t we all heard this watercooler advice?  “The only way to move up is to move out.”

In fact, much has changed in employment practices over the years, and unfortunately, due to economic changes that affect corporate culture, the two-way street of company loyalty is long gone. Employers that can’t (or don’t choose to) offer a stable yet growth-oriented environment cannot expect their employees to sit tight and wait for the possibility of advancement.

But what if an insurer does offer these things? In other words, if you have a passion for what you do and what you want to do, and you have a company that supports you with exciting challenges, why leave?

Thankfully, the insurance industry seems to be coming around to this type of thinking, and has kept unexpected pace with the changes in economics and corporate culture. This is reflected in this week’s Insurance Accounting & Systems Association’s annual conference and business show, which has broadened its main tracks to include Career Skills and Development.

Once session in particular, “Insider Insights: Keeping the Passion throughout Your Career,” reminds us of Mr. Rodriguez.

“There is a profound spotlight on talent now,” notes Margaret (Resce) Milkint, Managing Partner of The Jacobson Group and moderator of the panel comprising experts from USAA, Topa, Erie and Navigators Insurance. “Attracting, engaging, promoting and retaining top talent at all levels is a business imperative.”

Further, Milkint notes that insurers are now clearly recognizing that for employment, ‘one size absolutely does not fit all’. “The personal touch, no longer taboo but now seen as an actual advantage, means humanizing the workplace, providing authentic leadership and building a culture of empowerment,” she says. “These are the new differentiators. This is the new normal...not a trend.”

If my dad was still living, he’d tell me that Rodriguez was on to something, and for this discussion perhaps even more important: AIG was on to him, obviously recognizing his talent, and offering him more appropriate opportunities to grow and develop within AIG’s now monolithic enterprise. It’s refreshing to think that the industry is following along.

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