Candice Sze Hang-chi started as a management trainee at insurance giant MSIG, part of the Mitsui Sumitomo group. Now a management development executive, she has a master’s degree in public health and started out as a life underwriter. Early on, she realised the importance of looking beyond technical underwriting skills, to get a complete view of the insurance industry. She talks to Wong Yat-hei.
What is your academic background?
I spent my teenage years in Christchurch, New Zealand, and graduated from Canterbury University in economics and information systems. Then I returned to Hong Kong to complete a master’s of public healthat the University of Hong Kong.
How do you start your day?
I start off by going through my e-mail box. I go on to my “to-do” lists and knock off each task one by one. By then, my phone is ringing with calls from internal and external business partners to check on the latest developments of our e-insurance project. I also spend time on team meetings as we gather on a regular basis to brainstorm strategic concepts for our e-insurance.
What does your job entail?
As a management trainee, I rotate around different departments every six months. During each rotation, I take part in the daily operations of my assigned department. With my accumulated hands-on experience, I have a better understanding of the role each department plays in our business. Currently, I am working on our e-insurance project. On top of my daily tasks, I also undergo training, where more experienced colleagues share their experience with me.
What are the major challenges you have encountered so far?
My biggest challenge so far has been the on-going MSIG e-insurance project. It involves multiple business partners and foreign affiliates getting together to set up an online insurance platform, enabling us to capture a greater share of Hong Kong’s general insurance market. The stakes are high and one of the challenges is to cater to all the different needs and viewpoints of different business partners and internal parties, each with their own ideas on how to develop the most innovative and user-friendly website. At the same time, the e-world never stands still. Our team is constantly working on enhancements to meet the needs of our customers. It’s not easy keeping up with technology, but our team never gives up.
What have you learned about your chosen career and what are your plans?
The insurance industry revolves around risk. I learned to appreciate its importance in all walks of life, at both personal and professional level. To me, risk is an opportunity and, at the same time, a danger. It has to be managed. As a management trainee, I wish to understand as much as possible about the company in the hope of developing my own risk management philosophy. In the future, I hope to pass on my experiences to junior colleagues and help them develop.
Any advice for potential interns?
Do your research. Talk to the right people and ask for their advice. You must know yourself and the company. Management trainee programmes can definitely benefit your career development. However, to maximise the benefits, you must know yourself – your goals, your interests and your expectations. Then, get know the company – its vision and culture. You will be amazed by the synergistic effects when you find a “perfect match” company to start your management trainee programme.