I wanted my future workplace to fulfil two requirements above all else: it should offer an international environmental and a diverse range of tasks. For me, there is nothing worse than sitting all day at the same desk always doing the same thing. Nor did I want the other extreme of constantly flying from one place to another. In Hannover Re I have found my dream employer. As one of the world's largest reinsurers the company's operations span the globe. In Hannover I work together with colleagues from all around the world. I travel on business several times a year.
It was a friend of mine who first drew my attention to Hannover Re and its trainee programme. The company's website said that applicants for the trainee programme needed to have spent a considerable time studying abroad and should master at least two foreign languages. Given that I had spent a year in Australia during my economics degree and bearing in mind that along with English I also speak Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian, this was a perfect fit. As soon as I attended my first interview in Hannover it became clear to me just how international things are at the company's head office. I encountered a number of staff members who at various terms conversed in Spanish, English and other languages.
In the course of the 18-month trainee programme I had the opportunity to get to know several of Hannover Re's lines and market segments. The programme consisted of five stays in various specialist units. During the sixth and last training phase I spent six weeks each working in Toronto and Kuala Lumpur. The individual trainee visits lasted for around three months, with trainees normally being integrated into day-to-day business right from day one. The entire programme is rounded off with training activities and seminars.
I currently work in a specialty department focusing on the reinsurance of large risks – such as factories, power plants and sports arenas – in the CIS countries. Our clients are primary insurers who protect their customers against various risks such as fire and natural perils and pass part of the risk on to us. My job, first and foremost, is to assess the risks and negotiate the conditions on which we are willing to participate. For this purpose, depending on the particular project requirements, I sometimes draw on the advice of specialists from other departments. Our company employs engineers, process engineering experts, physicians and agricultural specialists, among other professions.
Now and again I visit the customers. We talk about developments at our respective companies and discuss current projects. Our business is not only about the numbers, the human factor is just as important. And to this end you need to know the practices in the various markets. My customers in Russia or Ukraine, for example, are initially much more reserved in business dealings than Western Europeans. Keeping a poker face is simply the norm, people scarcely smile at the outset. If you were not familiar with this behaviour you could find it disturbing. For me, adjusting to various cultures is one of the most fascinating aspects of my work.
The fact that a good two years after joining the company I am already allowed to manage my own portfolio typifies the Hannover Re philosophy. Employees here quickly learn to shoulder responsibility. I am now leading a section with three members of staff. To this day I still benefit from the network that I built up as a trainee. This enables me to get some matters resolved quickly and directly because I know colleagues in numerous departments from my time as a trainee. Another thing that pays off here is that most employees stay with the company for a very long time.
Before I started working at Hannover Re I could never have imagined that the range of tasks in reinsurance business could be so diverse. There can only be very few industries in which things are so international. I also appreciate our terrific working atmosphere – many of my colleagues have become my friends. There's absolutely no doubt about it: I have found my dream job.