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Prudential Cambodia makes its pitch to students

Brian Badzmierowski

Cambodia’s rapidly growing insurance sector is riding the wave of digitalization as demand for digital and soft skills in the workplace grows, companies in the sector are looking for upcoming graduates to fill this gap.

One of the companies championing this shifting dynamic is Prudential Cambodia and the life insurance company recently hosted an executive panel discussion for students to offer advice on how to best equip themselves for the digital workplace.

The discussion, titled “Adventures to a New Horizon” centered around the fact that soft skills such as critical thinking and a willingness to learn and adapt on the job were more crucial than traditional qualifications such as educational background and experience. 

With educational institutes racing to catch up to the growing demand for soft and digital skills and a talent gap emerging in the digital economy, the Prudential executives invited students to take the first step by applying and committing to learning on the job.

Addressing the students gathered at the company’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, Prudential Cambodia CEO Sanjay Chakrabarty said: “We want to talk about capacity building, we want to talk about skill-building, we want to talk about how if you were to join us, we are going to train you and make sure that you become a world-class talent.”

Prudential Cambodia
Paul Simons, Prudential’s chief human resources officer for insurance growth markets, encouraged students to develop their soft skills.

Chakrabarty pointed to Cambodia’s strong economic growth since it joined ASEAN in 1999 and said he said he expects this upward trend to continue, following a similar path to Vietnam and Thailand’s past economic trajectory. He expects much of this growth to occur in the digital sphere.

“There is no doubt about the potential of Cambodia. It may very well be the Kingdom of Wonder, but it’s also a land of opportunity,” he said.

He explained that Prudential’s goal was not just to sell insurance, but also to invest in the long-term prosperity of the country and its people.

One of Prudential’s concrete goals is to make healthcare and insurance accessible and affordable to all Cambodians.

The company’s AI-powered Pulse, for example, is an all-in-one health app that allows users to track their health, find clinics nearest to them, and apply for and receive insurance policies within minutes.

A changing work environment

Paul Simons, Prudential’s chief human resources officer for insurance growth markets, told the gathering of students that traditional methods of doing business were now outdated in the constantly evolving job landscape. 

“The old way of developing solutions is very perfectionist, but we’re much more willing now to be bold to try things and fix it as we go,” he said.

Instead of relying on bosses for instruction and slowly accruing experience, Prudential is focused on fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and empowering new employees to take the lead in solving problems. 

This requires employees to have critical thinking skills, a collaborative mindset, and curiosity, he said.

“When we’re looking at employing people, we absolutely look at this ability to think critically. It’s more and more important because we can no longer rely on people to learn from experience,” he said.

Kerry Ling, the chief human resources officer for Prudential Cambodia, said upskilling and collaboration were key elements to Prudential’s work culture.

Kerry Ling, the Chief Human Resources officer for Prudential Cambodia, said the company promotes upskilling in a unique way by putting everyone is on the same level. 

For example, the company has cross-team brainstorming sessions and meetings where everyone has an equal voice at the table. There’s also the “Transformer – Management Trainee Program” for new graduates that train new employees for management roles.

“Not only will we help you transform yourself to become the best version of yourself, but also you have a chance to transform our business,” she said.

Upskilling a priority at Prudential Cambodia

During the second session, a panel of Prudential Cambodia executives discussed the company’s embrace of emerging technologies and upskilling, as well as its willingness to send employees abroad if they desired.

Assistant Director of the Business Intelligence Unit (BIU) and transformation Heng Sok said upskilling while on the job is a core part of working at Prudential. 

Regional teams are always available to support projects and if a new technology is released, he said the company doesn’t hesitate to enlist employees in professional training courses.

“A lot of training is available, so if you are willing to learn, there’s a lot of opportunities here,” he said.

Chief actuary Freddie Wong, Assistant Director of the Business Intelligence Unit (BIU) and transformation Heng Sok, and Assistant Director and Solutions Architect Vannak Soun shared their advice for upcoming graduates.

Chief Actuary Freddie Wong reiterated to students that they should apply for positions at Prudential even if they feel they aren’t ready or don’t have the typical educational background required for some of the roles at the company.

Actuaries are in high demand in Cambodia and their core responsibility is analyzing risk and creating financial reports for shareholders. However, he said his job was much more multi-faceted than that and included working on product development as well.

While students should have a proficiency in math, he said this was only a part of the job and encouraged students with all types of degrees to apply.

As the students look to graduate in a constantly morphing job environment that shows immense potential for those willing to dive into new technology, Assistant Director and Solutions Architect Vannak Soun said having the ability to learn and implement what you learn were the most crucial skills to succeed.

Students gathered at the Prudential headquarters in the capital to learn about the growing insurance sector.

He said: “In the technology field, I think we all know that everything becomes obsolete in now less than a year. So, what I learned in my university now pretty much is useless, what I know today will probably be outdated tomorrow. The ability to learn is very important… The application part, the good news is that we will help you because that comes with experience.”

The panelists said Prudential’s priority was serving the population, and that students passionate about protecting the health and finances of Cambodians should explore the insurance sector with an open mind and a willingness to experiment with new ideas.

Cambodia Investment Review has previously reported on how Prudential Cambodia it is unlocking access to affordable financial protection for all Cambodians.

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