Community Corner

Industry Profile: Melanie Hutcheson

Monday August 15th, 2011

“Faces” is a component of the Financial Centre Focus (FCF) initiative coordinated by BFSB and the Professional Industry Association Working Group to profile role models within the financial services sector. It is produced in collaboration with Guardian Business, with profiles appearing in the Monday edition of the Nassau Guardian each week. (Note: Column previously ran on Thursdays)

Melanie Hutcheson

Corporate Communications Officer - Colina Insurance Limited

What attracted you to the sector?

I started my career in public relations and journalism. I was attracted to the financial services industry in general, and to the insurance sector in particular, because of the high value it places on advertising and on clear, direct messaging for both broad and specialist audiences. Colina, for one, is a company that embraces innovation to achieve this goal and allows me to bring my right-brained creativity to an industry that, conversely, has to be linear, prudent and analytical.

How long have you been involved in financial services?

Despite the fact that my first job was at a publishing house (I later moved to a PR agency), I would say that I felt drawn to financial services from the beginning. My work for my highest profile clients and most challenging projects were invariably in banking, insurance or allied industries. So in a broad sense, about 10 years; if you want to be technical though, perhaps 5 is a more exact number. More specifically, over the past three years (since I joined Colina), I’ve developed a deeper appreciation of the diversity of the industry, having worked with the Company and its various affiliates.

What keeps you motivated?

Most days I’m motivated by the sheer pace of it all; there is no time to lose focus because there is always something new about to happen. One size does not fit all when you’re in a position that demands creativity: every project requires you to consider messaging, audience, economics, tastes, regulations, and, of course, any new technology that might be available to you. This wards off the ennui bug. It’s also heartening to know that the work that I’ve directed with our design partners is being seen by thousands of people and that it has the opportunity to move them and to get them thinking about their financial security. I’m encouraged also when this work gets rewarded by my peers internationally, such as when my Company’s Annual Report won the Silver Quill Award from the International Association of Business Communicators last October. It compels me to continually raise the standard of work that comes out of my department.

Why do you think you have been successful?

To borrow a phrase, “success is not the key to happiness; happiness is the key to success”. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. As the Communications Officer at Colina, I’m responsible for giving a voice to the Company’s brand personality, which includes traits like security, trust, and integrity. It might sound cliché but the first thing I do when I meet someone is cast them in a commercial in my head; I hear a profound quote and I want to write a print ad about it; I get involved in an organization and I begin to analyze its brand. That’s how I know I’m in the right profession. I hope I never lose this passion because I believe it can keep me on the road to success.

Did mentoring play a part in your success?

I have had the opportunity to work under some exceptional mentors who gave me opportunities, exposure and advice that have helped me grow personally and professionally. This is a debt I could not possibly repay.

What qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?

I find myself in the position of trying to advance in two worlds, and this keeps me in hot pursuit of developing my skills and qualifications in the insurance industry and in communications. The FLMI programme is essential for people trying to promote the insurance industry because it gives you a cross sectional view of the profession and its various niches. As it relates to communications, I am pursuing Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation from the International Association of Business Communicators (of which I am a member and from which Colina recently won an award) because it denotes proficiency or mastery of the science and art of communicating effectively in business. Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services?

It’s important to consider financial services careers because there is such diversity. A young person might take an inventory of her talents and think that her career prospects are limited but once she can make the linkage between what she’s good at and how these skills can be applied to this fast growing, fast moving, globally minded industry, she will almost always find a place for herself.

Are there specific suggestions they have for sustaining and/or growing the financial services sector?

I think our leaders in government need to think as globally as the practitioners in the local industry and learn as much as they can from the reservoir of talent that resides here. It is an industry that is perpetually poised for growth but can be affected so rapidly by challenges elsewhere in the economy and the social structure of our country that it needs to be top of mind always.