Former YAT Leader Selected for Guardian’s Next Up Program

By Ayo Mseka

Former NAIFA-National YAT Leader Nickelle Leist has been chosen by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) to be the first participant in the company’s Next Up Program, which is designed to develop and train future leaders for Guardian and the financial-services industry.
“I am honored and pleased to be selected for the Next Up Program,” added Leist, who joined Guardian in January of this year and holds the title of Field Vice President. “The program is looking for people who have entrepreneurial leadership skills, are driven, goal-oriented, and focused on success. I am privileged to be chosen to participate in such a prestigious program.”
For the next two years, Leist will do four-week rotations at various Guardian general agencies, where she will learn about attracting, developing and retaining agents, the nuts and bolts of financial management of an agency, marketing and branding. Basically, she will learn how to be the CEO of a privately held firm, she added.
Once she successfully completes the program, she will take everything she has learned and apply it to her own firm. “At the end of my two-year program, I will have lots of options available to me,” she said.” I can open my own firm or buy a firm from a retiring general agent.”
“I love my position at Guardian,” she added. “The company is spending a lot of resources on this program to ensure its success. I am glad that I have what they were looking for-- someone with leadership skills and a willingness to do what it takes to get the job done.”
Training future leaders
Guardian decided to implement the Next Up Program because it saw an agency system that was populated mostly by an aging workforce and was concerned about succession- planning issues. So the company set out to recruit applicants from other demographic groups, such as women and people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Leist is highly qualified to serve in the Next Up Program. She began working in insurance brokerage in 2002, and in 2012, took her expertise in life insurance, annuities, long-term- care insurance, disability income insurance and hybrid products to Pinney Insurance. There, she helped brokers market to their clients via various marketing campaigns that used email, phone, and internet techniques.
The leadership skills she has developed at NAIFA will also come in handy in her new position. She is a long-time NAIFA member who has served in various leadership capacities, including serving as Chair of the association’s National Young Advisors Team.
Through NAIFA, she was also able to participate in the association’s Leadership in Life Institute. “LILII gave me skills to be able to handle a new challenge and embrace the leadership role,” Leist said. “LILI provided a focus and a desire for me to reach higher and to push others to do the same.  I want to lead from the front and help others reach their full potential, too.”
  • Posted April 11, 2017 IN