PLUS Strives to be a Model of Inclusiveness

A message from PLUS President Todd Greeley

PLUS has a long history of being a forward-looking organization that values all members and different opinions. It has encouraged diverse thoughts and respects all views. It strives to ensure a welcoming environment in all that is does.  And it has and remains filled with passionate leaders who care about their fellow members, co-workers and customers. This is being tested even more so today as the spotlight shines brightly on the continued need for change and social justice in the United States and around the world. PLUS is committed to fulfilling its core mission in a way that will help our industry and our communities address these important issues. To that end, I’m excited to outline in this post some recent changes to PLUS’s highly successful Leadership And Mentorship Program (LAMP) that we think will enhance PLUS’s contribution to driving positive change.

Since the formation and adoption of PLUS’s first Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee and D&I plan, PLUS has continued to advance its D&I efforts, most notably with its LAMP initiative. LAMP provides members from traditionally underrepresented groups in the PL industry with leadership development, along with mentorships and opportunities to engage with PLUS leaders. Entering its fourth cohort, the program continues to build momentum. One of the successes about which we are most proud is the number of LAMP “alumni” who are now leaders and key contributors to PLUS. This diversity within PLUS’s volunteer leadership makes us even stronger. But again, we know this is just a part of PLUS’s continuing path toward greater equality, and we recently decided to make a change that we believe will move us even further down that path.

You likely have seen that the PLUS Foundation recently changed its mission. The PLUS Foundation has changed to meet the needs of its members and the industry many times in its relatively short lifetime. Now it is changing again to meet our industry’s evolving priorities. Seeing the need for greater workforce development and ensuring opportunities for all, the PLUS Foundation will shift its focus to advancing tomorrow’s workforce through outreach, education, mentoring and giving back. In doing so, it will support individuals and groups that face obstacles to advancing their career and that have been traditionally underrepresented in the PL industry, particularly in senior management roles.

In light of the Foundation’s new mission and focus, and after much deliberation, PLUS has decided to transition LAMP from PLUS to the PLUS Foundation.  We believe doing this will better serve the needs and goals of LAMP and its fantastic participants. We also think LAMP fits perfectly alongside the Foundation’s successful Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), which provides thought leadership, mentorship and education to advance women in the PL industry. This will allow the Foundation to utilize its expertise and expand the focus on this already successful program to benefit LAMP. To aid in the LAMP transition, and to provide continued counsel for the Foundation Board, the Foundation is also forming a D&I Advisory Committee. This committee will include several past LAMP participants.

This shift of LAMP to the Foundation does not mean that PLUS is diminishing its effort on equality. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We will be heightening of level of commitment by forming a Board level standing committee that will focus on ensuring PLUS looks through the equity lens in all that it does. We recognize our size in the landscape of this large industry, and that our corporate partners have far more and resources to wield in moving the industry in all matters around diversity and inclusion. As a result, we feel our most impactful option is to focus our resources on the PLUS organization, members, volunteers, staff, events, and offerings. This focus will allow PLUS to lead by example, while also expanding its opportunities for all to be heard, have access to, and participate equally in PLUS.

No doubt these are challenging times, but also opportunities for great leadership. PLUS accepts that challenge and will lead by ensuring broad perspectives are considered in every facet of the organization. This clear focus and the actions that follow will hopefully be a model for others.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you over the last year and I look forward to being a part of this effort to ensure equality and provide inclusive opportunities for all in our industry.  

Interview with LAMP Alumni: Part 2

Our LAMP alumni interview series continues with responses from Eric Tu on his experiences in the industry, PLUS, the the LAMP program. For more content on diversity & inclusion from PLUS, you can read posts here on the PLUS Blog, watch our member webinar series, or attend the upcoming PLUS Foundation webinar, An Open Conversation About Race in the Professional Liability Industry, on Wednesday, October 14th at 10:00 a.m. ET. You can register for this webinar on the PLUS website here.

Mr. Eric Tu currently serves as Assistant Vice President within AXIS Capital’s Professional Lines Division. In this role, he oversees the profitable growth of a market leading specialty insurance portfolio, specifically in Financial Institutions and Executive Risk. Eric works with a broad array of FI and commercial clients ranging from private enterprises to Fortune 500 corporations. In his five years at AXIS, he has helped develop innovative risk solutions to his clients as well as AXIS’ trading partners. More recently, Eric is supporting a company-wide initiative at AXIS in partnership with the organization’s D&I committee. As part of the advocacy team, they’ll provide Unconscious Bias training to AXIS employees focused on promoting diversity and inclusivity in and out of the workplace.

What was the most valuable aspect of the programming (e.g. orientation, webinars, mentor, attending PLUS events, relationships with your cohort)? Why?

LAMP has so much to offer, it’s tough to pick just one. The value of the program comes from a combination of various facets to maximize each candidate’s exposure. Through networking, mentorship, formal training, peer evaluations, the most valuable aspect is its multi-dimensional approach to provide a well-rounded experience.

What takeaway(s) from the program have you implemented in your own life/career and how has it benefitted you?

A major recurring theme revolved around taking ownership of your path both personally and professionally. Being self-aware of your own competencies, aspirations, and formulating an action plan to accomplish your goals becomes second nature. Holding yourself accountable is an effective reminder of this. 

How has LAMP changed your career path?

One of the program’s many benefits includes access to PLUS’ continuing education resources. LAMP emphasizes the importance of technical proficiency and supports its members in their pursuit of this knowledge. There is no substitute for sound expertise and this experience enabled me to further my learning.

Interview with LAMP Alumni

This is the first in a series of interviews with LAMP alumni on their experience in the industry, PLUS, and the program. For more content on diversity & inclusion from PLUS, you can read posts here on the PLUS Blog, watch our member webinar series, or attend the upcoming PLUS Foundation webinar, An Open Conversation About Race in the Professional Liability Industry, on Wednesday, October 14th at 10:00 a.m. ET (registration opening soon).

Jeremy J. Zacharias

Jeremy is a member of the Professional Liability Department of Marshall Dennehey where the focus of his practice is representing and defending attorneys, accountants, insurance producers, corporate directors and officers, and other licensed professionals.

Jeremy is an active member of PLUS where he is an alumni of the Leadership and Mentoring Program (LAMP). Through PLUS, Jeremy 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. Jeremy also currently serves on the Future PLUS committee and the PLUS Conference Content committee.

In 2011, Jeremy earned his 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, Jeremy earned his juris doctor from the Rutgers University School of Law, graduating cum laude and in the top 15 percent of his class.

Jeremy is admitted to the bars of the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is admitted to practice in federal court in the District of New Jersey.

How did you get your start in professional liability insurance?

I began my career in the professional liability insurance industry as an Associate for Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. in Mount Laurel, NJ. I focus my practice in representing and defending attorneys, accountants, insurance producers, corporate directors and officers, and other licensed professionals.

How did you hear about LAMP? What made you decide to apply?

I became a member of PLUS one year before I decided to apply for the LAMP program. I saw the wide network that PLUS offered and knew that as an Indian American attorney, I was under-represented in the legal and insurance community. I saw LAMP as an opportunity to learn more about the professional liability insurance industry and to connect with my peers in different avenues to grow my network. Through LAMP, I have made countless contacts and expanded my network with people across North America. Without LAMP, I would not have had this opportunity.  

What was the most valuable aspect of the programming (e.g. orientation, webinars, mentor, attending PLUS events, relationships with your cohort)? Why?

For me, the most valuable aspect of the LAMP programming was the relationships formed with my cohort and expanding this network with each incoming cohort. Each cohort includes individuals that are ambitious in their careers and include like-minded professionals. LAMP offers a diverse group of individuals that share a commonality to transcend the professional liability insurance marketplace.

What takeaway(s) from the program have you implemented in your own life/career and how has it benefitted you?

The key takeaway that I took from LAMP was to see beyond merely practicing law. As a member of the professional liability insurance industry, I now see my role as a defense attorney as a collaboration with other professionals, including insurance claims representatives, brokers and underwriters.

How has LAMP changed your career path?

LAMP has allowed me to expand my network within the professional liability insurance industry while learning more about this industry. In turn, I am a more effective lawyer and advocate for my clients since I now understand the case reserving mindset and appreciate the insurance and claims strategies utilized.

How do you think LAMP has, or will, impact the PLUS community? Impact the industry?

LAMP has impacted that PLUS community by placing a focus on diversity and gave a voice to under-represented insurance professionals in the industry. The landscape in the professional liability insurance industry is changing, and under-represented professionals offer a unique voice and mindset to any company. LAMP has placed a spotlight on this and this program continues to effectuate change and acceptance within this industry.

What else do you think companies and individuals should be doing to bring about change?

Companies, in order to stay competitive in the market, must promote and celebrate diversity and must focus on the value professionals adds to an organization, regardless of race, color, or religion, among others.

What advice would you give to someone from an underrepresented group who is thinking of entering professional liability insurance? Someone who is in the field but looking to advance their career?

I often advise individuals new to the professional liability insurance to get involved with as many opportunities as possible. PLUS offers various opportunities at the local and national level to stay engaged with the current insurance trends and to fine-tune your professional network. I joined PLUS not knowing how useful my membership would be to my career as an attorney. However, getting involved with LAMP and later taking on a leadership role with PLUS has allowed me to maximize my membership benefit. I would encourage anyone seeking to learn more about this rewarding industry to get involved with PLUS and volunteer to offer a unique insight into this growing industry.