S4 EP38: High expectations, high reward and having an ownership mindset – with Ryan Hite, Talent Acquisition Lead, RLI Insurance Company

“Every employee, even the most entry level positions, gets bonus company stock at the end of the year.

You start thinking differently, about improvements in processes. It doesn’t just benefit you. You’re looking for things that benefit the whole organisation“, says Ryan.

On our insurance executive search and talent acquisition podcast this week, Ryan discusses growing up in a farming family to his father launching his own insurance agency in the 1980s.

“As soon as I was able to help, I was employed in the agency, updating paper manuals. I got insurance producer licensed in high school.”

After college, Ryan joined a Fortune 500 Company, where he learned underwriting and claims. He ended up managing and buying an independent agency before merging it with his parents’ insurance business.

“I always knew of RLI Insurance, the culture and the reputation. I got a phone call one day where they just said, we have an opening to help us recruit folks.”

Ryan explains how his role as Talent Acquisition Lead has evolved over time and the current market position of RLI.

The business with over 1100 employees – 450 based from its Peoria, Illinois HQ – operates in the specialty, mostly commercial space across 50 States.

“We’ve seen property take off here in the last couple of years. That’s been one of our fastest growing areas.

One of the things that makes us unique, is our product groups all have the autonomy and the freedom to decide what coverages they want to offer the distribution channels.

It’s not a top down, one chief underwriting officer dictating the same process for everybody. We hold our product VPs to a very high standard. It’s like running their own business.

We give them the tools and the resources, but that ownership mentality is critical for success of their particular insurance product.”

Ryan highlights RLI’s ESOP model and its impact on team unity, accountability and support.

In his Insurance Talent Acquisition role, Ryan emphasizes how he balances the demands of the hiring manager with attracting and retaining the very best insurance leaders.

“You want people that get it, coming in the door with that ownership mindset. Not everybody comes in fully understanding what that means and what that’s going to look like.

We want people who want to think like an owner. It’s actually better for the business overall, because people care more. They’re treating it as their business.”

Ryan shares what he looks for in leaders coming for interview and the advice he’d give to fellow insurance people and talent acquisition leaders in the insurance industry.

“There’s a lot of smart people in the insurance industry. If it’s not a cultural fit for your team, group or organization, it’s going to be frustrating for both sides. We look for what we call ‘hungry, humble, smart.’ All the questions filter into those three categories.”

Ryan clarifies what he seeks when working with an external insurance executive search partner.

“I want a partner that understands my needs, but also the organisation at large, our total compensation package, or total rewards. What  our corporate mentality is. It again goes back to culture.”

Ryan concludes with the one lesson his job has taught him, he thinks everyone should know.

“I’m a big believer that we are all in sales, every job, every role. I don’t mean that in a stereotypical car sales way.  Whether it’s internal or external roles, you’re influencing others. We’re all in sales. It is a people business.”

Connect with Ryan Hite on LinkedIn or find out more about RLI Insurance Company

The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO of Insurance Search.

We are a global Insurance Executive Search Consultancy, supporting Insurance and Insurtech businesses to attract and retain the very best insurance talent.

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