S4 EP12: From hooking talent to ongoing career development – with Kylie Holmes, VP People & Talent, Virtus

“When I start speaking to someone in an initial phone conversation, I want them to be hooked”, says Kylie.

“That has to continue with onboarding. Even if they’re remote, we’ll fly them to home base so they can be in the culture and meet the leadership team that’s here.”

Kylie shares her career journey from aspiring doctor to falling in love with people, going on to study a Masters in HR and landing her first HR role with Grant Thornton. She stepped in to the world of insurance when she joined Virtus in February 2022.    

Headquartered in Kansas City, Virtus is a brokerage and consulting firm built for today’s experience economy.

“Our leadership team would call ourselves the renegades of the industry, the creatives, the entrepreneurs kind of shaking up the insurance industry.”

Kylie discusses the approach to attracting, retaining and engaging talent as the business continues to grow at pace.

“I think we’re able to engage our people and offer them what they need for their lifestyle. Recruiting in the market today, one of the number one things I hear is ‘I want work life balance, I want flexibility’. We’re definitely able to offer that just by the way that we work. We say, ‘Be where you need to be, be responsible and take care of our clients’”.

She shares the importance of L&D and career development, highlighting examples of how Virtus are investing in the technical, professional and personal growth of their people.  

Kylie discusses talent pipelines and engaging with people that would be a right fit with the Virtus culture.

“We have this gap in the middle.  We’re finding either experienced people or we’re finding folks that we have to train from the ground up right out of school. We’re figuring out how we get those folks trained up to be that middle manager level eventually.”

Kylie emphasises how senior leaders coming in to the organisation need to be agile and fast-moving.

“It’s an entrepreneurial environment, and that’s not always for everyone. Complacency is just not in our vocabulary. You need a proactive problem solving spirit.”

Kylie highlights the importance of having a holistic approach to recruitment – leadership, internal talent acquisition combined with effective external partners that really understand what the business is looking for from a competency perspective.

In conclusion, Kylie encourages leaders to be adaptable and good communicators.

“You’ve got to meet people where they’re at. Being able to get on someone’s level and flex your style. Meeting in the middle and figuring out a solution together is really important.”

Connect with Kylie Holmes on LinkedIn or find out more about Virtus

The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO, Insurance Search, the Executive Search Consultancy for growing Insurance and Insurtech businesses around the globe.

To discuss identifying & attracting the very best talent to your team or being a podcast guest, reach out to Nick via nick.hoadley@insurance-search.com

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