LIVE from RISKWORLD 2022: Mitch Dunford, The National Alliance
Mitch Dunford, Chief Marketing Officer at The National Alliance, was Jamie Gassmann’s guest in the R3 Continuum booth LIVE from RISKWORLD 2022. Mitch shared the course offerings and programs from The National Alliance, the national insurance marketing group, IMCA, trends they are seeing at The National Alliance, and more.
This show was originally broadcast from the RIMS 2022 RISKWORLD Conference held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.
Mitch Dunford, Chief Marketing Officer, The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research
Mitch Dunford is the Chief Marketing Office for the National Alliance.
For over five decades, The National Alliance has set the standard for quality, practical continuing education and for delivering what insurance and risk management practitioners want. Over 150,000 respected professionals, across the U.S. and worldwide, have used and continue to use their programs as the foundation upon which they build their successful careers and businesses.
The educational programs and research conducted by The National Alliance were built on a foundation of integrity, innovation, and imagination. These qualities commit them to act responsibly, to be accountable for their actions, to fulfill their obligations, and to inspire others with their relentless determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor.
The National Alliance began with a request from a small group of independent agents in Texas who were seeking a first-of-its-kind educational program for insurance practitioners. It has grown to become the nation’s leading professional insurance and risk management education resource. From the inception of the very first CIC institute, conducted in 1969 in Austin, Texas, they have had two very simple goals:
- To provide excellent programs of practical value to the best insurance and risk management practitioners, and
- To continually work to bring greater recognition and value to their achievements.
Mitch Dunford LinkedIn
About Workplace MVP
Every day, around the world, organizations of all sizes face disruptive events and situations. Within those workplaces are everyday heroes in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite. They don’t call themselves heroes though. On the contrary, they simply show up every day, laboring for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption. This show, Workplace MVP, confers on these heroes the designation they deserve, Workplace MVP (Most Valuable Professionals), and gives them the forum to tell their story. As you hear their experiences, you will learn first-hand, real-life approaches to readying the workplace, responses to crisis situations, and overcoming challenges of disruption. Visit our show archive here.
Workplace MVP Host Jamie Gassmann
In addition to serving as the host to the Workplace MVP podcast, Jamie Gassmann is the Director of Marketing at R3 Continuum (R3c). Collectively, she has more than fourteen years of marketing experience. Across her tenure, she has experience working in and with various industries including banking, real estate, retail, crisis management, insurance, business continuity, and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with special interest in Advertising and Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Paseka School of Business, Minnesota State University.
R3 Continuum is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
Intro: [00:00:03] Broadcasting live from Riskworld 2022 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, it’s time for Workplace MVP. Brought to you by R3 Continuum, a global leader in helping workplaces thrive during disruptive times. Now, here’s your host.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:24] Hi, everyone. Your host, Jamie Gassmann here at day two at Riskworld 2022 in the expo hall, in R3 Continuum’s booth. And joining me is Mitch Dunford, he’s with The National Alliance.
Mitch Dunford: [00:00:37] Hey.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:37] Hi, Mitch.
Mitch Dunford: [00:00:38] Hi. Thank you for having me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:40] Yeah, welcome to the show.
Mitch Dunford: [00:00:41] It’s great.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:42] So, talk to me about, what does the National Alliance do?
Mitch Dunford: [00:00:45] We are just over 50 years old. We are one of the leading educators in the insurance industry. We do continuing education. We also have five different designation programs for insurance and risk management professionals, three on the insurance side and two on the risk management side.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:03] Wonderful. And then, what kind of platform are those educational resources available and is it online learning?
Mitch Dunford: [00:01:09] Yeah, good question.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:10] Yeah.
Mitch Dunford: [00:01:10] Yeah, so it’s all of the above. Historically, we have provided live classroom events across the country—across the world, as a matter of fact. And then, obviously, with COVID, that all shifted and we moved it 100% online. So, we have live instructor-led online courses, and we have a number of self-paced courses, where you can log on to our website and experience an educational program on your own time, make your own progress.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:42] Yeah. So, if one of the insurance carriers here is looking to offer training or seeking training from your organization, what are some of the topics and educational content you have available for-
Mitch Dunford: [00:01:53] Oh, runs the gamut across property casualty insurance, commercial lines, personal lines, life and health. We have an introductory series for new people that introduces them to some of just the fundamentals of the insurance industry, the language, then we have a program for CSRs. It’s called the CISR. And then, we have a program for producers, principals to earn the CIC. And then, there are two risk management designations, the CRM, the certified risk manager, and then a special risk management program for risk managers who focus on education or schools.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:35] Fabulous. And you’re also a part of a marketing organization that are—marketing organizational group, kind of like a networking group, where marketers and PR representatives of these various companies here at the RIMS World are able to participate in, do you want to tell me a little bit about that?
Mitch Dunford: [00:02:52] Sure. Yeah. It’s the IMCA, the Insurance Marketing and Communications Association. I’m on their board. I’m also currently the Chair of their CMO Council. And in fact, this June in Orlando, we’re holding a live annual event, where I’m hosting a panel that focuses on what we’re calling the new normal, post-COVID. What’s our work life like now, post-COVID? What are the expectations of our employees? What are the expectations of our employers in this new normal after COVID?
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:28] Interesting. And so, that group of panel members, who are they among? Like are they representatives from different carriers?
Mitch Dunford: [00:03:37] Right. We’ll have representatives from some carriers, we’ll have representatives from agencies, and we have some HR people there.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:03:44] Fabulous. So, you’ll have like a really nice mixture of kind of expertise helping to comment in that area. That’s fantastic.
Mitch Dunford: [00:03:50] Right. And I roped in one of my colleagues, Jeff Buck, who works on our marketing team. He’s a millennial, and I said, “We need your voice on there, Jeff, to represent the younger people and how they see themselves in this new work environment”.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:04:05] Yeah, absolutely. So, with, obviously, the networking group you’re in, and you’re touching on some trending things in terms of that new normal, and especially with a bunch of workplaces looking at that return to the office, the training that National Alliance is providing, are there trainings that you’re providing that help to tap into some of that from a risk perspective? Is there any trending that you’re seeing that’s different from before, or is it all pretty much status quo?
Mitch Dunford: [00:04:33] Well, what we’re hearing right now, we’re hearing it at the National Alliance is our people are more interested now than they ever have been in their work-life balance. They discovered that, hey, we don’t need to drive into the office every day, I don’t need to sit in traffic, I don’t need to burn up fuel, we can be just as effective, or sometimes, even more effective working remotely. So, at The National Alliance, we’ve tried to respond to that.
Mitch Dunford: [00:05:04] We’ve done some remodeling at our office, making workspaces where people can come in when they want to come in, just plug in their laptops, collaborate, go to work. We’ve built some meeting spaces and our employees are really excited about having that option. We also have built a new recording studio, a podcast studio and a new video studio at our headquarters to use audio and video in our educational content. It’s kind of fun.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:35] Yeah, that’s awesome. Like trying different techniques of ways to communicate, right? Because that’s one of the things I’ve noticed as a marketer myself, is that that easier to digest content is just what people are craving, kind of that quick audio medicine.
Mitch Dunford: [00:05:51] Right. And this younger generation, I mean, that’s how they learn. In fact, I have a son who’s in his late 20s, very successful young man, on his resume, when it asks for his educational experience, he puts YouTube on there, because he’s learned so much. He’s a marketer, he’s a PR guy, he’s learned so much from YouTube, he lists it as one of the educational organizations that has helped him build his career. Isn’t that amazing?
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:21] That is amazing. I’ve never heard of that, but it makes sense. It’s like I think of like around the house, you want to fix something yourself, go to YouTube.
Mitch Dunford: [00:06:31] When you want to know how to build a website or something like that, go to YouTube.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:34] Yes, go to YouTube. Wow. That is fascinating. So interesting. And I know that like work-life balance, I know my team, I’ve got a few, including myself, we like to take afternoon runs, like use that as your lunch break. I know you and I both participate in this 5K this morning, oh, the views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz, wow, unforgettable. So, I mean-
Mitch Dunford: [00:06:55] But wait a minute.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:06:55] Yeah.
Mitch Dunford: [00:06:56] So, you guys, in the afternoons, your team, you stop what you’re doing and you guys go out on a run?
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:02] Well, they go on their own individual, but they take their lunch break and they do that.
Mitch Dunford: [00:07:06] That’s amazing.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:06] Yeah. And I do the same thing. It just breaks up that workday and I like it. In fact, we’re planning a team 5K at some point this summer. We’re going to all get together and go run something together.
Mitch Dunford: [00:07:16] I love what you guys do. I mean, you’re focused on the mental wellbeing, and how an employee’s emotional state impacts their productivity, their happiness in their jobs.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:30] Yeah, it makes a huge difference.
Mitch Dunford: [00:07:32] Huge.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:32] It really does. Yeah. Because it’s like if your employee is not happy, either, A, they’re not going to stay, or B, you’re not going to get the full potential out of them. And so, ensuring that you’re supporting their wellbeing, particularly following something catastrophic in that work environment they’ve never maybe experienced before in their life, can make a huge difference in how they view you as their employer.
Mitch Dunford: [00:07:54] Huge. And I think employees are wanting more of that. In their relationship with their bosses and their careers, they want to feel appreciated and like their whole person is important.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:07] Absolutely.
Mitch Dunford: [00:08:08] And as we express that, their job satisfaction increases, everything, all the productivity, the quality of the work goes up.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:08:19] Yeah. And as humans, by nature, following something that happens in the work environments, like a disruption of some sort, a lot of times, people don’t really quite know what they need in that moment or how to process that. And having somebody come in that helps them to just like talk through how they’re feeling or even just for them to hear how others might be feeling can be really supportive overall as an organization. So, it does make a huge difference.
Mitch Dunford: [00:08:46] I know for me, my father passed away back in November and it wasn’t unexpected. He was in his late 80s, had dementia, but I was surprised how much it impacted me, and just my work, my thought processes. I even expressed it to Will Hold, our CEO, just, “Will, this is really getting to me”, and chatted about it. But you’re right, an employee’s emotional wellbeing really impacts their performance at work.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:20] Yeah. And it’s not always a mental illness, per se, it’s just that things happen, and sometimes, you just need an outlet to process it.
Mitch Dunford: [00:09:30] Right.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:30] Yeah, absolutely. It’s been really great chatting with you.
Mitch Dunford: [00:09:33] Oh, thank you.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:34] If somebody wanted to get a hold of you and learn a little bit more about the National Alliance or about the marketing organization that you said-.
Mitch Dunford: [00:09:42] The IMCA.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:42] IMCA. I just didn’t want to mix up my letters there.
Mitch Dunford: [00:09:45] Yeah. It’s the insurance industry, there are acronyms for everything.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:47] Absolutely. So, if anybody wanted to learn a little bit more about that or get information about your June conference that’s coming up, how would they be able to do that?
Mitch Dunford: [00:09:55] So, the website for the IMCA is imcanet.com. Just visit their website. And like I said, the annual event is in June this year in Orlando. If you’re interested in The National Alliance, or any of our designation programs, or CE, you can visit our website at www.scic.com.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:18] Wonderful.
Mitch Dunford: [00:10:19] Yeah.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:19] Well, thanks again so much for joining me, Mitch.
Mitch Dunford: [00:10:21] Thank you. My pleasure.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:21] It’s been so great talking with you.
Mitch Dunford: [00:10:23] So fun to see you and congratulations on the run this morning.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:25] Oh, you as well. Yeah, we were big finishers.
Mitch Dunford: [00:10:27] Yeah, we got through it.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:28] It was a blast.
Mitch Dunford: [00:10:30] Yeah. Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate it.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:10:31] Yes. You’re very welcome. Thank you.
Outro: [00:10:37] Thank you for joining us on Workplace MVP. R3 Continuum is a proud sponsor of this show and is delighted to celebrate most valuable professionals who work diligently to secure safe workplaces where employees can thrive.