RPLU Designee Testimonials

The Future PLUS Career Path Programming Task Force is interviewing individuals who have obtained the RPLU designation to showcase designees and how the RPLU helped them in their career.

Have your RPLU designation and interested in being interviewed? Contact Erin Stephens at estephens@plusweb.org



Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m currently a Managing Account Executive within Travelers Financial Institutions group focusing on the Asset Management segment. I was thrilled to be promoted to MAE in 2021, as it allows me to continue to manage a book of business while also adding the responsibility of managing and mentoring other underwriters. I’ve had some great managers throughout my career who I have had strong relationships with and who were selfless in providing me with guidance while on the path to where I am today. I now want to have the same impact on some of my colleagues while on the other side of that equation.

Now for my Wheel of Fortune introduction: I’m a sports and music nut, I’ve read every Michael Lewis book, and I live in Hoboken, NJ with my beautiful fiancé Lauren.

How did you first get started in the insurance industry, and what do you do now?
After earning my degree in finance and economics at Villanova University, I was looking for an industry where I could put those skills to use and fortuitously started my insurance career as a market facing management liability underwriter for Private & Non-Profit companies. I continued as a Private & Non-Profit underwriter when I came to Travelers in 2013 as I continued to earn elevating responsibilities.

In 2018, seeking a new challenge and a way to broaden the depth of my underwriting experience, I transitioned to our Financial Institutions business unit. Focusing on Investment Advisors, Hedge Funds, Mutual Funds, Private Equity and Venture Capital Firms married perfectly with my background and interest in the markets.

Changing teams at Travelers has been the second best move of my career, after of course, coming to Travelers in the first place.

How long had you been working in insurance before you began to pursue the RPLU?
I began pursuing the RPLU in 2017 with seven years of underwriting experience.

What were your primary reasons for pursuing the RPLU designation?
I felt that I could get a lot out of the curriculum. I have no current plans to return to school so this was the best available way to formally further my education in the industry and to be recognized with a credible and respected designation. From the seven core learning modules to the fives electives that are required for the designation, there are a broad range of relevant topics that could be of benefit to any professional in our space to revisit and/or learn for the first time via a textbook format.

Lastly, I’m looking forward to going to San Diego for the ceremony!

What was the process like of getting the RPLU? Did you have to balance the RPLU with work and your personal life? How much time did it take, and what did it consist of? Was it easy or difficult for you?
I benefited from designating time to study once a week after work. I completed a new test every other month, although I took a long break starting in March 2020 given the shutdown of the in person testing site. I eventually was able to easily finish any remaining tests virtually which significantly streamlined the process.

The key for me was just being organized and making slow and steady progress. Some tests were so relevant to my day to day that the studying for them felt like light lifting. Some tests were on subject matters that I was relatively unfamiliar with which encouraged me to revisit old learning habits and create study guides and notes that were helpful to reference.

Overall, I think earning the RPLU designation is eminently achievable for anyone who puts in the effort.

Why was getting the designation helpful to you & your career? Are you able to do anything with the RPLU designation that you couldn’t do before?
The process of receiving the designation improved my technical skills. Particularly modules focused on topics such as General Liability and Reinsurance broadened my perspective on the industry as a whole.

The RPLU added to my personal career momentum. This was a pursuit that was encouraged and viewed very favorably by my managers and is an item that has been discussed during year-end reviews as a key part of my personal development.

What advice can you give to individuals who are thinking of getting the RPLU designation?
Do it. Be the best version of yourself. Commit yourself to lifelong learning. Call your mom and tell her you love her (unrelated but in the spirit of upcoming Mother’s Day, always good advice).

Are there any specific lessons that you learned in getting the RPLU designation that you continue to use in your daily practice?
An important takeaway is that insurance is a large industry with so many paths in which one can build a career. It pays to cultivate a holistic view of how the different components interact with each other and how they ultimately form the end product for our customers. It’s also a worthy endeavor to learn about the different roles in the insurance industry and to see where your areas of expertise can best fit.

Tell us a little about yourself.
When not working, you’re most likely to find me outside hiking with my dogs and boyfriend or in the spring and summer months on a lake or the ocean fishing and clamming at my favorite spot to take our boat, Block Island. I also am an avid gym person. As a lifelong athlete, I see the need to keep physically active no matter what, plus it is a great stress reliever. If it involves animals, boats, beaches, cars, or fishing, I’m guaranteed to be involved.

How did you first get started in the insurance industry, and what do you do now?
Like many people that enter the insurance industry, I never truly intended to end up in the industry. I originally went to school for Communication/Political Science not too sure what direction either of those would take me. After an internship with an employee benefits enrollment firm I looked at the insurance industry in a different light. Post-grad I ended up interviewing and joining my current company again, not too sure which direction it would take me. I became enamored with underwriting and the rest is pretty much history. I tailored my position as underwriting support to help me move into underwriting by beginning to pursue my RPLU to gain a strong foundation in underwriting many types of professional liability insurance.

Presently I have moved into a more hybrid role on my team supporting our misc. medical renewal book and mainly focusing on our hospital book but previously was part of our Human Services team as well.

How long had you been working in insurance before you began to pursue the RPLU?
I had been working in the industry not counting my internship (which was 6 months) about 3 months before diving into the RPLU.

What were your primary reasons for pursuing the RPLU designation?
My primary reasons for pursuing the designation were first and foremost to expand my knowledge base and gain a foundation to build my underwriting career on. I love learning new things and being sub one-year post-grad my brain was still fresh in the space for learning.

What was the process like of getting the RPLU? Did you have to balance the RPLU with work and your personal life? How much time did it take, and what did it consist of? Was it easy or difficult for you?
So, the process was continuously changing with COVID hitting right after I passed my first exam (Mod 1/2). The entire process took me from November 2019 until December 2021. When lock-down hit in 2020, I took a hiatus from studying as the online e-learning modules hadn’t been completely available yet. I really got back to it in early 2021 and after taking Mod 3, 4, and 5 in the traditional format (in-person testing), I was able to transition into the online e-learning modules and that definitely sped the process along. Working through the designation during lock-down was nice to have something to keep me focused and some sort of goal in place. Since I work in the industry and work with many of the concepts outlined in the modules this was relatively easy for me. The modules expanded on my basic set of knowledge which at times was difficult specifically math-based concepts. Through the modules, my weaknesses turned into strengths and helped my confidence.

Why was getting the designation helpful to you & your career? Are you able to do anything with the RPLU designation that you couldn’t do before?
Getting the designation was a goal I set in 2021 and was fundamental in my transition from a supporting role to moving into our underwriting department. I attribute many of my skills and knowledge to learning it while completing the RPLU. Specifically, my financial analysis skills, while initially not strong, were made much stronger thanks to that specific module.

What advice can you give to individuals who are thinking of getting the RPLU designation?
Just go for it. Many companies will reimburse for part, if not all, of your education costs to complete the designation. It can be done at your own leisure so you can fit a bit in between kids, other hobbies, or anything else in your life. The online e-learning specifically makes it so easy because there’s no scheduling an exam since it is an all-in-one inclusive module that can be done from the comfort of your own couch. You’ll be glad you did in the end or be like me and pursue the RPLU+ which is 5 extra modules to expand your knowledge base even further.

Are there any specific lessons that you learned in getting the RPLU designation that you continue to use in your daily practice?
I find myself using the Financial Analysis module, Intro and Advanced MedPL and Reinsurance daily. Since I write hospitals on excess basis and facultative reinsurance, it’s great to have my notes to bounce back on if I have a question on a concept.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a South African living in London. I started my career way back in the nineties and have spent the majority of my professional life in underwriting roles. I did my time at AIG and Marsh in South Africa, as well as setting up the financial lines team for a local company which was the 2nd largest short term insurer in South Africa.

In 2015, I moved to Dubai to work at Liberty Specialty Markets, where I initially headed up the Professional Liability team, and then took on the D&O/FI team as well.

At the end of 2019, my children and I moved to London when my eldest started university. This is when I changed sides into the broking space, with New Dawn Risk – which is an independent Lloyds broker in London, to head up the Management Liability & Financial Institutions team. This was probably the biggest challenge of my life. New country, new role, the hardest D&O market we have ever seen and within a couple of months, enter Covid-19. The bulk of our clients are US based, so not being able to travel and meet with our producers and clients was really difficult.

On the personal front, I have a daughter who is about to finish university and a son who is about to start his A-levels.

As an African and living the majority of my life in hot countries, I love the outdoors and sports in general. My most recent favourite activity is dragon boating, and I also love to travel and be as active as possible.

How did you first get started in the insurance industry, and what do you do now?
I started in the insurance industry in 1996 as a professional liability internal broker at a large listed insurance broker in South Africa, before moving to AIG as a Financial Lines underwriter. I underwrote various classes within financial lines, including PI, D&O, FI, Medical Malpractice and Commercial Crime and then moved into the Crisis Management Team to write Kidnap & Ransom, Contaminated Products and Property Terrorism and Sabotage insurance.

My favourite classes were PI and Med Mal so I spent the next 15 years concentrating on those until my time in the Middle East where I took on a D&O and financial institutions role in addition to my PI role.

Moving to London, my primary focus is management liability and financial institutions.

How long had you been working in insurance before you began to pursue the RPLU?
24 years!

What were your primary reasons for pursuing the RPLU designation?
My current role is predominantly focused on the US market, which I have been taught is one of the most litigious markets in the world, so it made sense for me to ensure that I knew about any differences / intricacies that I may not have been aware of previously when writing international professional liability. It was also suggested to me that having the RPLU letters behind my name would also give me more credibility with my US producers, especially coming in as a new London broker.

What was the process like of getting the RPLU? Did you have to balance the RPLU with work and your personal life? How much time did it take, and what did it consist of? Was it easy or difficult for you?
Studying once you are working is always going to require a balance. After high school, I did a year of college and then studied various degrees and diplomas while I was working over the next 18 years – ultimately getting my MBA in 2013, so I was quite used to balancing work / study / family.

When Covid hit and we were in lockdown, I had a lot of spare time (not being able to leave the house, as well as being new in the country meant I didn’t have a huge social circle) so I thought it was the perfect time to start the RPLU process.

The way the modules are structured and presented make it very easy to get through the material. The examples and explanations are great to help in the understanding of liability insurance in general, as well as the more specific classes. My studying style has always been more auditory than reading textbooks, so the online modules were brilliant for me.

It also helped that I have been doing these classes of business for the last 20 plus years, so a lot of it was second nature to me. To finish all 13 modules and exams took me around 5 months to complete.

I would do a little bit every day. Never on weekends though. That was family time. Some modules (ones that I knew really well) took me one or two days to complete, but others took longer. Fortunately, my kids are old enough to not need constant supervision!

Why was getting the designation helpful to you & your career? Are you able to do anything with the RPLU designation that you couldn’t do before?
It definitely gave me a lot more confidence that I knew most of it already, just with different terminology! It also helped me understand the US insurance market, how it is structured, and how they do things. The information in the modules is kept up to date and relevant so it was really helpful. It made speaking to my US producers a lot easier!

What advice can you give to individuals who are thinking of getting the RPLU designation?
DO IT!! In my world – I can never know enough. I always want to better myself. Professionally and personally. This particular course is structured in such a good way that builds as you get through the modules. Its relevant to what we do every day in our jobs and I think should be a staple for anyone in the professional liability space. I have encouraged my team to do it and they are.

Are there any specific lessons that you learned in getting the RPLU designation that you continue to use in your daily practice?
I can’t remember which module it was in (assume the financial analysis module), but one of the sections went into detail around how US listed company filings (S-1, 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K) are structured and how to read and understand them. Very helpful for me, given that I spend a lot of my time looking at them!

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a Senior Associate with Marshall Dennehey where the focus of my practice is representing and defending attorneys, accountants, insurance producers, corporate directors and officers, and other licensed professionals. I also represent financial institutions, among other clients, in the defense of individual and class action lawsuits arising from claims under the FDCPA.

I am an active member of PLUS where I am an alumni member of the Leadership and Mentoring Program (LAMP). Through PLUS, I also completed training at PLUS University and served as a member of a PLUS task force to revitalize the curriculum of PLUS University to address current trends in the professional liability insurance marketplace. I am also an active member of Future PLUS and serve on the Future PLUS Leadership Committee as the current Chair.

In terms of my education, I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a co-concentration in Finance and Business Law, graduating magna cum laude from Drexel University's LeBow College of Business. In spring 2014, I earned my juris doctor from the Rutgers University School of Law, graduating cum laude.

I am currently admitted to the bars of the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and I am admitted to practice in federal court in the District of New Jersey.

I am also a consistent speaker at Rutgers School of Law on topics including professionalism and career development. I also serve my community through the Knights of Columbus.

In my spare time, I am an avid automotive enthusiast and try to attend as many car shows as I can. I have a great interest in the electrification of the automotive industry and am excited for the future of the automotive industry as automakers transition toward zero emissions.

How long had you been working in insurance before you began to pursue the RPLU?
I have worked in the insurance industry approximately 3 years before I began pursuing the RPLU designation.

What were your primary reasons for pursuing the RPLU designation?
I learned about the RPLU designation after I was accepted to the LAMP program. I knew that the RPLU curriculum would provide an excellent way to learn more about the insurance industry to better serve my clients.

What was the process like of getting the RPLU? Did you have to balance the RPLU with work and your personal life? How much time did it take, and what did it consist of? Was it easy or difficult for you?
The process of preparing for the RPLU exams and taking the RPLU exams was not easy for me. With a busy defense litigation practice, billable hours and family responsibilities, the process on my RPLU path took longer than I would like to admit. However, the PLUS materials and modules were effective in learning the content and I felt confident in taking the exams after reviewing the materials. Having gone through the process, I feel a sense of accomplishment in obtaining this designation, of which not too many practicing attorneys hold.

What advice can you give to individuals who are thinking of getting the RPLU designation?
Like anything else worth pursuing, the RPLU designation requires a firm commitment to your career and education. However, you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you achieve this designation. I am now more confident in handling claims on behalf of clients and am now armed with the knowledge that sets me apart from other insurance defense attorneys. Definitely invest in yourself and in your career by pursuing the RPLU designation.

Are there any specific lessons that you learned in getting the RPLU designation that you continue to use in your daily practice?
After I achieved my RPLU designation, I now have a better understanding of claims reserving and budgeting and the reasoning behind detailed claims reporting and information transmission. I understand that there are many levels to the insurance industry, especially in the professional liability marketplace, and in doing my part, I better serve my clients.

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