A dedicated group of Middle Tennessee State University students have been named this year’s winners of Selective Insurance’s College Competition.
The annual national contest allows future generations of insurance professionals to run virtual insurance agencies and experience many associated responsibilities and considerations. The MTSU team had the highest performing agency among the eight college teams competing in the monthlong competition, making complex business decisions while overcoming sales hurdles and managing their financial solvency.
The five-member MTSU team was comprised of juniors and seniors with majors in Risk Management and Insurance, Actuarial Science, and other business-related areas primarily within the Jennings A. Jones College of Business.
“This recognition is another example of the outstanding professional preparation students receive at MTSU’s Jones College of Business,” said David Urban, dean of Jones College. “We pride ourselves on producing graduates who are business-ready. The performance of our students is also in line with Best Review’s No. 1 national ranking for our Risk Management and Insurance program in 2020. ”
Michael Stansbury, managing partner, Elite Insurance Solutions in Franklin, Tennessee, served as the team’s mentor and helped them leverage their education and experiences to make informed business decisions about building market share, developing products and services, growing profit, promoting their firm, and contending with competitors.
“Managing an insurance agency requires strategic decision making and precise execution. The MTSU team, and all of the other participating teams, demonstrated these skills in the competition’s simulated environment. By exposing students to the insurance industry’s many facets, Selective’s College Competition helps participants prepare for their future insurance careers,” said Shadi Albert, executive vice president, Insurance Strategy and Business Development.
Other participating schools included Appalachian State University, Ball State University, Illinois State University, Indiana State University, St. Joseph’s University, Temple University, and University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
MTSU team members of the “Lightning Insurance Agency” include:
- Nawara Ahmed — a senior finance major from Bangladesh who lives in Murfreesboro
- Brittney Alford — a senior recording industry management and Africana studies from Alpharetta, Georgia
- Hedra Hana — a senior risk management and insurance major from Antioch, Tennessee
- Kaushal Patel — a senior supply chain management and finance major from Murfreesboro
- William White — a senior risk management and insurance major from Smyrna, Tennessee
- Preston Heard (university liaison for the competition) — a junior actuarial science major with a minor in risk management and insurance from Mount Carmel, Tennessee
“When evaluating the agency competition, I took away understanding of how niche markets and utilizing the proper resources will lead to a successful agency,” said White. “I also took away that steady growth versus rapid growth is important because you want to build an agency that sits on a solid foundation.”
For fellow team member Ahmed, the experience gave her a broader perspective of the insurance industry.
“Making changes to one part of the agency impacts the whole business. When producers are happy with company they work for, they will bring in the business,” she said. “This competition helped me learn how the insurance company operates on the inside. I really want to work with an insurance agency to gain more knowledge and experience.”
Dave Wood, who leads MTSU’s program as the Martin Chair of Insurance, was proud of the team’s success, noting that the MTSU team placed second place last year in the competition.
“I am extremely proud of these students. Winning first place nationally is a tribute to their preparedness in the Jones College RMI program, their dedication and hard work,” Wood said. “The simulation was challenging and very much consistent with the decisions that agency owners must make to be successful. They developed creative thinking skills and learned the importance of customer satisfaction. We are appreciative of Selective Insurance for sponsoring this competition.”
Patel said he and his student colleagues put in the necessary work to achieve success.
“We worked hard. We built an agency from scratch that is not biased toward money-making; instead, we focused on providing a customer superior insurance experience,” he said. “What we have been able to accomplish is evidence of team-working, diversity … and competitiveness.”
For more information about MTSU’s Risk Management and Insurance Program, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/programs/insurance/index.php or contact Wood at 615-898-2813 or email Dave.Wood@mtsu.edu.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)