Working in Miami was an opportunity for me to learn, work and grow in a new cultural and professional environment, and to network with the people there. It also helped me to acquire additional expertise, including gaining experience with facultative reinsurance placements, participating in rollout of the new Industrial Property line, negotiating with brokers and insurance companies, and adjusting claims.
My core task was to develop and expand the reinsurance portfolio in Miami. But I had other duties as well. Thanks to my IT skills, for instance, I was soon made responsible for IT access and connections as well as for the installation of new services. I always tried to be a bridge-builder to Switzerland. Miami has the infrastructure and regulatory system of the USA, but is Latin American at heart. That makes the city a hotspot – for more than just the reinsurance industry.
We were tasked with reinsuring a hotel project in Belize. Work started in August 2018, with a planned three-year construction period. It was a 65-million-dollar project and our share was just under 30%. In 2019, we travelled to Belize with the broker to see if the project progress was in line with the project plan, if there was a hurricane contingency plan in place, etc. Ricardo Garcia, Managing Director of our Miami Office, gave me tips on the best questions to ask and what to look out for when we visited the construction site. The project was completed on time and without any losses in spring 2021.
I came to Helvetia in 2011, starting out as an engineering insurance specialist for German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino. From the beginning I always had a strong interest in working abroad. I talked to Oscar Treceno, who was in charge of the technical units, about a possible secondment to a Spanish-speaking region. He was quite open to the idea, so we started working on options.
Not quite. In mid-2017 I signed a secondment agreement to start working in Miami at the beginning of 2018. That was the plan ... But obtaining the local work permit proved much harder than expected. Some nine months later, after three attempts, the work permit was finally granted: a three-year visa with the option to extend for another two years. And so my Miami adventure began in July 2018. My wife, who also had professional commitments, stayed in Switzerland.
My wife and I “redefined” our relationship – from living together to living apart. Before COVID-19, we saw each other every two to three months – with me travelling to Switzerland or her visiting me in Miami. At the onset of the pandemic, I returned to Switzerland in March 2020 and remained there for eight months. Our marriage has certainly survived living apart – but of course we are both looking forward to a time when we can see each other again on a regular basis (laughs).
I’m looking forward to a soft landing. Of course, the return to Switzerland has to be planned just as much as the move abroad.
Yes, I’ll be in Ian Hogarth’s Large Claims team (GEPC). That means my knowledge as a reinsurance underwriter and my recent experience can be put to good use with Helvetia’s corporate customers. Working as an underwriter has helped me to understand the tailor-made wording of the special contracts this environment calls for. I’m looking forward to this new prospect.
It’s someone else’s turn now (laughs). I’m looking forward to a new challenge in the GEPC team and I plan on making a contribution to the team for the next ten years.
I welcome it when our employees are prepared to move outside their comfort zone and grow professionally. I see it as an investment that is beneficial for everyone involved: the company, the employee and also our clients.
That said, such a personal wish has to match the company’s needs as well. Helvetia is a large pan-European company with offices in Asia, America and soon in London too. As such, we have the structure in place to offer some of our employees new horizons. In today’s world of competition for talent, this is an excellent incentive to help retain our people and enable them to develop professionally.
It is important that the whole secondment process is carefully managed, including reintegration of the employee at home base – even if, as is the case with Giancarlo, the employee’s function may be slightly different after their return. That opens up new horizons for the employee and is the ultimate test of a successful job rotation programme.