Zurich Insurance has made a big impact in Wexford
Zurich Insurance has made quite an impact since establishing its centre of excellence in Drinagh in 2008.
Part of the worldwide Zurich Group, its general insurance business is one of the largest employers in the financial services sector in the South East and currently employs 160 people in the town. It has just announced that it is looking for more people for 45 new full-time jobs, in a variety of roles including underwriting, claims management, marketing and IT.
'It's a very young centre, a very young workforce with an average age of less than 30,' said Shauneen Agnew, who has been with Zurich it started in the town, in which it is one of the biggest employers and certainly amongst the most progressive.
'It's a very busy centre, a very hard working centre,' said 31-year-old Shauneen, who works in the commercial underwriting section, 'there are lots of changes coming down the line that will be good for the company and good for Wexford.'
Shauneen heard about the jobs through a friend 'and decided to apply'.
'I had been looking for a change for quite some time,' she said, 'when we first started there were 20 or 30 of us, no one had any experience so we all started from scratch.'
Shaueen, a broker market facing underwriter in the commercial team, said Zurich offered its employees the opportunity to further their education and progression paths with 'more coming down the line' as the company expands.
'I left my college without my degree, and working here gave me the opportunity to get a professional qualification,' she said.
Zurich is very much part of the town and encourages its staff to participate in local events such as the recent Ben5K charity road race.
'The company gets involved in the community,' said Craig Healy, a market facing underwriter in the farm insurance team, who returned to Wexford from London in 2012 after securing a job with Zurich.
Like many of his peers, Craig, who worked as a driving instructor after graduation from WIT in 2009, had no insurance experience when he applied to join Zurich, and said he would encourage anyone looking for a positive career move to apply to join the Zurich team.
'I moved to London because there were no jobs here,' said Craig, aged 27, who applied for a position at Zurich after he saw some positions advertised online.
A phone interview, psychometric tests and a face-to-face interview followed, with a successful Craig delighted to return to his roots in a good job in a company eager to train its staff.
Craig said that when he joined Zurich he found everyone friendly, easy to deal with and eager to help him.
'I had no experience, and started from square one, but there's lots of support there for you,' he said.
Lisa Tyghe is a motor claims handler, a challenging role that sometimes means dealing with the aftermath of both fire and theft, often some of the most contentious issues dealt with by the insurance industry.
Aged 23, she did a four-year business degree with WIT, punctuated by an eight-month work placement with Zurich, was translated into the offer of a full-time job when she completed her degree.
'At the end of it (the work placement), I didn't want to go back to college, but I did,' she said, her manager contacting her to offer her a job. Lisa said she was lucky to be offered a position with Zurich as some of the friends she went to college with ended up going to Canada and Australia to search for well-paid jobs.
What qualities do you have to have to work for the company? A good listener and organiser and to be extremely well organised to manage the large amount of calls coming in each day.
'You need to be a fast-paced person,' said Lisa.
'You need to be a people person, be prepared to listen to take account of both sides,' said Craig, 'organised and professional in your approach.'
Shauneen said that as leading international brand with a rock-solid reputation, Zurich provided and helped its staff gain qualifications 'you could take anywhere'.
One thing that is abundantly clear on meeting the staff at Zurich Insurance in Wexford is that this is a company investing heavily in the town and its people and it is paying dividends.