In an exclusive interview with Asia Advisers Network, GAMA International CEO Bonnie Godsman shared what it takes to be a leader and how the organisation is aiming to promote the professional development needs and leadership skills of agency leaders in Asia.
Anyone can be a manager by applying process. But a leader is someone who must set the vision and the values for the organisation and make sure that anyone that’s on the team meets those standards, she said. “A leader must be able to demonstrate, motivate, empower, inspire, educate, and really get people to buy into your vision.”
For some 85 years, GAMA has been helping managers become leaders. And it is now focussed on bringing its research-based, education and training resources to Asia.
“I’m CEO now coming up to my fifth year, and I’ve made it a priority to really focus on international expansion and drive the leadership message in Asia,” she said.
GAMA’s membership has since grown to 5,000 members in the region. In three markets – Hong Kong, Philippines, and Thailand – Chapters, which requires 200 members and the support of three insurance companies, have been established
Anyone who manages a team of advisers can become a member of GAMA for an annual fee of just US$175.
“We really want to make it accessible to everyone. Especially in Asia where you have some emerging markets alongside the more established and sophisticated markets,” she said. “For us, it’s really not about the revenue. As a non-profit, our goal is to spread the leadership message globally.”
Particularly in Asia, insurance companies are beginning to put a lot more emphasis on leadership development to make sure that the team is empowered, educated, and that they have systems in place to make sure that they are successful, she said.
More to come
And more is to come. LAMP Asia, which was recently held in Taipei and attracted 1,500 attendees from 13 countries, will now be held annually moving forward instead of once every two years.
“It will be held in Hong Kong next year in August, where we will also celebrate GAMA Hong Kong’s 25th Anniversary,” she said.
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It has also recently launched in Asia the Global Leadership & Management Professional (GLMP) designation in partnership with The American College. The GLMP designation is earned by completing the courses Essentials of Leadership in Management and Advanced Applied Leadership. Designation holders apply management and leadership research and best practices to develop highly productive financial organisations. She said, “40 participants from 23 companies participated in the first batch of the Train-the-Trainer programme in LAMP Asia Taipei.”
There are two other major initiatives in the pipeline, she shared.
GAMA Hub will be launched in the coming year. It will provide 24/7 access online to content and resources including all videos from LAMP USA and LAMP Asia, for members to go online at any point in time to learn about any topics that they require in self-paced learning.
A mentoring programme will also be launched. It will give more senior leaders an opportunity to give back to the industry. They will be paired with younger managers with a whole system in place that they follow each month for a year.
She said, “Furthermore, we are looking to establish more GAMA offices in Asia. We’ve just opened an office in Shanghai, but we are looking to open three more. We are considering Vietnam, Singapore and India but we will go where the most support from GAMA is needed.”
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