The Commonwell’s G.R.A.D Program

Julie Yandt—Director of Human Resources, The Commonwell

Cassidy Allison—Marketing and Member Insights Specialist, The Commonwell

Programs for new graduates have long served as a valuable avenue for businesses to cultivate talent from within. This arrangement offers significant benefits to all parties involved—associates can apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios, while employers, if strategically advantageous, can harness the value of their fresh perspectives. In today’s dynamic job market, marked by rapid changes, the insurance industry is no exception. 

Responding to this evolution, The Commonwell developed its G.R.A.D. Program (Graduate, Rotational Accelerated Development). Julie Yandt, Director of Human Resources explains, “Our G.R.A.D. program is a strategic business initiative that welcomes new graduates of the Insurance Management program to explore the limitless possibilities of our business through rotations in Underwriting, Claims, Member Innovation and Optimization over a 2-year period. Associates are hired as full-time, regular employees with access to the same benefits and perks as Commonwell Crew members.” 

Technical training and professional development are integrated at every step. Associates receive support through CIP completion, senior leadership coffee chats, special projects, mentorship and ongoing coaching and development. 

Cassidy Allison, a Commonwell Crew member on the working committee, states, “We’re helping to grow the next generation of insurance professionals. Whether associates settle in with us long-term or explore other parts of the insurance industry, the G.R.A.D. program positions them to contribute positively to the workforce.” 

Meaningful Partnerships with Educational Institutions 

The program’s success relies on strong partnerships with select Ontario Colleges. The Commonwell extends their support to students by funding scholarships and providing gift cards for textbooks.

Julie explains, “Our partner schools are open and willing to work with us. We’re proud to collaborate with colleges that offer high-quality programming and show a commitment to preparing their students to be job ready. This year, we’ve focused on two target schools to ensure meaningful partnerships.” 

Creative Recruitment and Talent Development

The best advice Julie has for brokers and insurance companies alike is to approach your strategy collaboratively and bring in team members from across your business. She emphasizes the importance of diverse perspectives in recruitment planning, as demonstrated by their working committee.

“An added benefit was giving front-line employees a chance to lead. Everyone’s voice was equal, regardless of their role. If created in isolation, we wouldn’t have had the amazing program the group put together.”

The Future is Collaborative

As the job market evolves, The Commonwell’s G.R.A.D. program gives Associates a variety of experiences creating dynamic, resilient insurance professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the business. Julie underscores, “When people understand the unique challenges certain departments face, they can foster better working relationships and be creative in problem-solving across teams.”

A challenging landscape will demand creative solutions from insurance companies, brokers and industry partners alike. It’s the hope of The Commonwell to inspire other businesses to leverage their existing structures, cross-departmental talent and creative thinking to remain sustainable and successful in spite of the obstacles they face.

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