After over a decade of leading a team of up to six people in the insurance industry, Joey faced one of the biggest challenges of his career.
His employer, Aviva Singapore, was undergoing a digital transformation involving a dramatic shift away from manual tasks and the revision of nearly 30% of job roles.
Tackling change together
Fortunately, around the same time in mid-2018, Joey was introduced to the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) by Aviva’s HR and Training Department.
“When I first heard about it, it was meant for my team, not [just] me!” said Joey. “But once you get to know that there’s this ‘path’ that’s available, you start thinking,
maybe I should take a risk and put in more work instead of staying put.”
Despite being a little fearful of the unknown, Joey was motivated to try something new and took up the programme by the end of 2018.
An opportunity soon opened up for a business analyst role under Group Business, and thanks to Aviva’s recruitment policy of placing existing employees first, he was given the opportunity to switch teams and begin his upskilling journey with Aviva’s PCP.
Admittedly, Joey found the first few months difficult. He was used to dealing with people — guiding the team and handling customer complaints — as a team leader in operations. But his current job requires him to mine data, crunch numbers and generate reports. Unfamiliar with his new role’s technical requirements, Joey needed to spend extra time and effort just to get the job done.
“Even though I had a bit of a technical background, analytics goes in depth to talk about data, software, architecture — topics that can be very jarring and very overwhelming for guys my age,” said Joey.
However, his peers were always supportive and flexible in helping him meet the PCP training schedule and milestones developed in tandem with his new team lead and HR.
“If I was swamped with work, the HR and Training Department would work with me to make sure that I stayed on course,” praised Joey. “They were really my rock and helped me to stay on track.“
Overall, he credits 60-70% of his success to hard work with the other 30-40% to the support of his family and colleagues.
“I admit that I would not have been able to do all of this on my own,” affirmed Joey. “But with all the support I received and the number of hours I put in, I now think that it’s very, very achievable.”
Making such a dramatic career change meant sacrificing the amount of time that he could spend with his wife and son. However, they were supportive of his decision from the outset.
“I discussed things with my wife, who also works in IT, and she agreed that the world is moving more and more towards automation,” said Joey. “And my son…I noticed his generation talking about how they need to learn coding as that’s where the future is.”
Knowledge is power
Since taking on his new role in business analytics, Joey has completed a Certified Business Analytics course, taken curated training modules via “GROW” – Aviva’s internal learning platform which offers access to LinkedIn Learning – and undergone on-the-job training.
While the courses helped him to pick up technical skills like programming and the online platform helped him to sharpen his critical thinking skills, it was his team leader who taught him how to approach problems in an entirely new way. Instead of simply reacting to problems, he learnt how to dive deep and break them down.
“What I used to do was deal with human beings – making sure that complaints were managed and that things kept running,” reflected Joey.
“But now I approach things in more of a systematic way by breaking things down and creating some kind of formula.“
Although this approach may seem troublesome at first, Joey offered the story of how he once programmed Excel to create a report that would have previously required him to manually collate data from four different sources.
“I believe it took me about 4 to 5 days just to test out the code…however it has saved me so much time,” laughed Joey. “And even now, 4 or 5 months down the road, I still enjoy clicking those buttons!”
Of course, Joey also carried over many of the lessons learnt from his days as a team leader such as his knowledge of the business and experience in dealing with insurance policies.
“I once managed to do a bit of coding to calculate the headcount of particular policies, which was great as I was able to have a point of reference to my team and draw back to my old experience” recalled Joey.
In addition, Joey’s experience which spans both his new and old roles has meant that he’s become the go-to person for his old team members when they have questions regarding business analytics as well as for his new team members when they have questions regarding his old tasks.
Onwards and upwards
Fast forward to today and Joey has completed most of his Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) over 12 months.
Having settled into his new role, he plans to continue deepening his skills and already has his sights set on learning more about data visualisation – as organisations look to use data to solve problems and make more informed business decisions. But most importantly, the initial pressures of making a mid-career switch are already becoming a distant memory.
“As a newbie,
the onset was very very difficult,” admitted Joey. “But as you gain more knowledge, things become…I wouldn’t say ‘second nature,’ but you start to know where things are!”
To find out more about how the PCP programme can help you transition your career, click here.