In the Land of the Sound of Music to Reflect on VCIA’s Future

The VCIA is not one to rest peacefully on its laurels.  In addition to the fact that the Conference Task Force is already working on the 2023 VCIA Annual Conference, I also need to tell you about our future planning process.  Just this week, staff went offsite to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe for our annual planning retreat.  While we did not indulge in a Sound of Music karaoke session, we did have six hours of highly productive conversations concerning the future direction and initiatives for the VCIA. 

Lunch at the Mountain Von Trapp Resort of Austria…I mean Stowe!

We brainstormed big picture ideas as well as how to optimize our work systems. We discussed opportunities and how VCIA can better serve our members and the captive community as a whole. What else can we provide? What can we do different and new? What do our members want, and what do they want in the future? Overall, we identified key areas to explore, steps to take, and proposals to confer the Board on. A stroll in the misty mountains by the grazing cows was the perfect cap to the day.

The Family Trapp Lodge
The hills are alive with music with songs they have sung for a thousand years!
Some staff and friendly cows

Next up, in less than three weeks, is the fall meeting of the VCIA’s Board, where they will review staff input and also create a plan for member consultation as a part of a root and branch strategic direction consultation.

Then comes your part – member and stakeholder input in a variety of formats. I really hope that you make the choice to participate when asked. Your organization, the VCIA, can only grow and support you if we have clarity on your needs. Our goal will be to look at all ideas, from the incremental to the radical, through the lens of the question “will this build value?”

While our staff retreat generated strong themes and initiatives for the future of the VCIA, these need validation through our process, and I hope to hear from many of you as this process is rolled out. You can always contact me by phone or email. Until then, “my heart wants to sing every song it hears.”

Your Perspectives of #VCIA2022

I finally came around to writing that personal $100 donation check to ICCIE. It’s in honor of A.I. Insurance’s Cameron MacArthur, who guessed the closest number to the #VCIA2022 attendee count, 986! I also want to acknowledge our friend George Levine of KPMG. He correctly answered all staff trivia at the conference and won the $50 Vermont Flannel Company gift card. We went through several wrong submissions before coming up with George’s! I hope George found something to clad himself in for the New England autumn. For the rest of the blog, I want to give it over to you, the fine folks that made #VCIA2022 a complete success. VCIA staff closely read over your post conference feedback, and we’ve already identified areas that we can improve on for next year. We also appreciate the support and gratitude, as we went all in to make it possible. So without further ado, here are some comments that really made us smile. (As a side note, if you haven’t filled out the conference survey and would still like to, get in touch with Francis at fmcgill@vcia.com)

Job well done, VCIA!  That was an incredible conference and I think anyone that attended would agree, you are clearly the best.

Thank you for all your, and your team’s efforts in putting this together. Excited to be here (1st-timer)!

The best organized conference I’ve attended. Keep it up!

A phenomenal opportunity for a young professional in the captive industry to become more integrated in the community at large!

I love VCIA! It truly is where the captive world comes to meet. Anyone doing captives is here so it’s a must-go.

The best US conference to attend.

Professional sessions with strong attendance of key players in the captive space.

Everyone’s willing to make new contacts and build out their networks at VCIA!

Excellent information from thought leaders in the captive industry.

Vermont Conference is the best.

Best in class!

The people and the good times make this a great conference.

The staff at VCIA is very supportive and helps make it one of the best conferences of the year.

At VCIA all attendees genuinely want others to have a positive experience.

If you do anything related to captive insurance, you have to come to VCIA. Simple as that!

Collaboration and Innovation at #VCIA2022

From our planning committees and design process for #VCIA2022, two major themes emerged that we have cultivated and set to be front and center when the captive world comes to meet in Burlington August 8-11th (and coming quite soon, I may add!). We’ve had endless conversations with different key players and organizations in the captive industry and they identified these same elements that have been sorely lacking during the remote days of the pandemic. The big #VCIA2022 themes are: collaboration and innovation.

What is collaboration and why is it important? To me, it’s the exercise of bringing different perspectives and experiences together to solve an industry challenge or open up a pathway for new opportunity. Collaboration will take shape through conference educational sessions, and especially so with #VCIA2022 Discussion Groups. There are 7 Discussion Groups led by outstanding individuals who not only know their material, but are passionate about it. These will be engaging, back-and-forth discussions, with an emphasis on inclusivity and openness to making things work. That’s what collaboration is all about. See our LinkedIn posting below for more info!

Innovation–the Latin root of which comes from innovare for renew, or to make new–will be demonstrated by over 70 exhibitors at #VCIA2022. Whether it’s a new product or a reliable service, you’re bound to connect with companies that have come from all over the country to show you how they can help move your business forward. I’m personally excited for the conference opening reception, taking place in the exhibit hall at 4:30pm on August 9th. This will be the time to hear about the latest developments, to catch up with colleagues, make new connections, and get creative answers from a swath of talented people. Check out our exhibitor map below and make notes on who you want to see!

We’ve also built innovation into the conference through special Ignite Talks. Only in its second year, Ignite Talks are VCIA’s opportunity for the industry to distill important topics into a condensed and compelling presentation akin to the very popular TED Talks TM. The VCIA Ignite Talks are delivered by some of the finest captive minds we know and these bright folks will impart valuable knowledge relating to the captive insurance community. They serve as a platform to problem solve an issue or unpack a complex facet of the captive industry. This presentation model works precisely because it is time limited and keeps the audience’s attention with messaging that resonates. Plenty of time is reserved for a Q&A session to ensure your team directly engages with conference attendees. The Ignite Talks will take place at the Ignite Stage in the Exhibit Hall and the Amphitheater. Be sure to save some time to stop by one of these exciting talks and check out our incredible lineup!

24 days until #VCIA2022 week begins and we innovate and collaborate industry-wide! Be sure to share our registration page with colleagues/friends/other businesses who should be attending that haven’t signed up yet!

Make Sure Your Register Because This Is The Last Call for #VCIA2022 Early Bird Rates!

The Vermont state bird is the Catharus guttatus, more commonly known as the Hermit Thrush. However, the VCIA organizational equivalent is Primo Avis Mandare, for those not up on their Latin–the Early Bird! Leaving just as the Hermit Thrush arrives for its summer visit, the Early Bird’s call is ‘cheaper, cheaper!’ If you’re not quick you will miss its beautiful song because this seasonal visitor departs in just 6 days, having been seen by over 500 people. Primo Avis Mandare is certainly not shy and likes all kinds of attention, so grab your bird call whistle and binoculars and make sure you register for the 2022 VCIA Conference before the clock strikes midnight on Friday July 1st when Early Bird migrates away! I suggest you dally no longer and secure your spot at the captive industry’s biggest and best summer conference by booking your attendance via this link. 

The early bird gets the worm, or in #VCIA2022’s case, gets the best registration rates, which end June 30th!

VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference–our first in-person in 2019–promises to be an outstanding week of special events, productive networking, and, I’m not afraid to say it, the best captive education you’ll find on the planet.

The variety and depth of sessions, all incorporating the latest trends, emerging risks, and legal contexts, form the foundation of #VCIA2022. You will discuss captives and collaborate on ideas related to climate change, social inflation, tax developments, InsureTech (to name just a few). Simply put, nothing can match that experience without being on the ground in Burlington, Vermont the week of August 8th. Hundreds of captive professionals tend to agree with my perspective. We have attracted a strong crowd to register for the conference already, and we expect our current 500+ count to surge as the expiration of the discount approaches. 

Make memories at #VCIA2022. Register now to secure your early bird rate!

A major focus of mine as the new VCIA president is value. What value has VCIA brought to its members and stakeholders in the past and how can I improve upon that? I meet with people and companies on a regular basis to hear their needs and understand how VCIA can help. In the same way, #VCIA2022 is all about value. We’ve built into a week’s schedule as much as quality possible so you benefit from the value of the finest captive educational content and networking opportunities.

#VCIA2022 is all about value. We’ve built into a week’s schedule as much quality as possible so you benefit from the value of the finest captive educational content and networking opportunities.

VCIA President Kevin Mead

Don’t just take it from me. Dozens of talented captive professionals have been working hard for months to produce something special. I refer to the Conference Task Force and VCIA’s Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. The 2022 Chair of the Conference Task Force, Ian Davis, Senior Vice President, Captive Insurance Relationship Manager at People’s United Bank, realizes the anticipation for #VCIA2022 is growing and can’t wait to share the fruits of our team’s labor. “We know how much it means for the industry to get together and you will see that on full display at the conference, guaranteed. We’ve designed the conference to emphasize engagement, to explore important ideas and how they can benefit our companies, and to celebrate how we all are moving the captive world forward.”

I for one am proud as hell for all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put into our Annual Conference. I’m also super excited. Together with some of you, this will be my first VCIA Conference, and I am really looking forward to being able to start and build relationships and connections that will mutually benefit the VCIA and the entire industry.

First step? Spot the early bird and register today! See you sooner than you think!

The Wise Triumvirate: Janice Valgoi, Peggy Companion, Diane Leach advancing VCIA’s mission and strengthening the captive industry

A Director of Finance, Director of Membership, and Director of Education walk into a bar…jokes aside, Peggy Companion, Janice Valgoi, and Diane Leach have been central in building the high reputation and strong impact of VCIA. What drives them? A deep admiration for the good-natured people in the captive industry.

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them. Here’s our final staff spotlight, a tripleheader!, on the three smart and experienced women that are vital to VCIA’s success. Read up on all of our staff so you can get to now us a bit better before our big summer event. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Director of Education Janice Valgoi

Janice in her happy place on Lake Champlain

Since 2012, Janice Valgoi has brought many smiles to people in the captive industry. She takes great care in fostering relationships with people and companies, and works attentively in setting up sponsors for the annual conference while managing member needs throughout the year. Something you may not know about Janice, she used to be a serious synchronized swimmer, doing routines in the water and getting chewed up by Canadian geese. She loves dancing whether on land or sea!

Naturally her mind focuses on the conference this time of year, and when asked about what she’s excited about, she has a difficult time choosing. “To be honest I’m excited about everything! It’s very fulfilling to see everyone benefit from the conference. I think we give sponsors and exhibitors a really great value. There’s nothing better than bringing everyone together and that’s what the 2022 conference will be like. The VCIA staff has worked so hard to put it all together and make it a wonderful experience. It’s a very cool high to complete it!”

Director of Finance Peggy Companion

Peggy enjoying the view

Four weeks into Peggy’s tenure at VCIA the office flooded. Her room was the only part of the floor that didn’t get damaged, and so she stayed in the building while everyone worked remotely. It was quite the initiation. She had just finished an accounting degree after juggling many jobs and working as a single mother. Before graduating, her teacher came to her and said, “I am going to change your life today.” He was neighbors with then VCIA president Molly Lambert and set up a meeting for Peggy with her. Peggy hasn’t looked back (minus the flood!) since.

Raised in Long Island, Peggy has lived in many places: Louisiana, Connecticut, Florida, the list goes on! Her work with VCIA comes back to the people she serves and connects with. “The staff, the industry, they are all lovely, supportive, intelligent people.” She sees this year’s Annual Conference as a great opportunity to witness the positive changes VCIA President Kevin Mead has begun making. “Kevin’s got smart plans and visions for the organization. I’m excited about the pathways he’s creating for VCIA.”

Peggy plays the piano and guitar and wants to brush up on her skills. She sails and golfs when she can, but there’s something else. “Peggy’s hidden talent is that she can be a professional singer. She has a wonderful sense of humor and sings a perfect show tune,” Diane revealed, to Peggy’s chagrin.

Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach

Diane on the trail

October 2022 marks 35 years of employment for Director of Education and Programming Diane Leach. She’s been with VCIA literally from the start. “I keep learning something new with VCIA and the captive industry. It’s what keeps me going, this constant evolution of knowledge.”

Diane puts her heart into designing the annual conference. Of course, this year has added significance because it’s the first time since 2019 that it will be back live and in person. She looks at the VCIA Conference as an enormous tool to solve challenges and brainstorm new ideas for the captive industry, and she finds a common theme that will be on display this August. “Change. Change of the guard with the DFR. Change of leadership with the VCIA. Change with hot topics and the incoming generation of captive professionals. This industry responds well to anticipating needs and providing answers to them, and that’s what the conference will be all about.”

If Diane’s not perfecting details for the conference, she’s seeking out a tranquil place on earth. Nature brings her peace, and practicing yoga has kept her more centered as a person. Her best thinking comes out on the trail, or on the mat. She contributes her well being to the support VCIA has provided. “I have always tried to take care of myself and VCIA has encouraged that for all staff.”

I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I get to plan a large wedding to celebrate.

VCIA Director of Education Diane Leach

What’s most important to Diane? Being a mother. “My greatest joy is being the mother of my two daughters. I love the work-life balance VCIA provides. To have been a present parent means so much to me. VCIA has been so kind and generous to me and because of that I consider VCIA as my third child. And every year that child gets married again and I plan a large wedding to celebrate.”

The Wise Triumvirate Shaping VCIA for the Better

Summer Conference Registration Opens!

Meticulously planning, securing keynotes and hammering out the schedule, we’ve waited all year for this and now the “gates are opened” for our first in-person conference in three years. We can’t wait to gather with the captive industry’s best and brightest this August in Burlington.

Our 2022 Conference is sure to be a memorable one!

We’re officially launched! Please visit our conference registration page to sign up for the biggest and strongest captive insurance event this summer on the global calendar. No matter your experience level, you will find so much in our conference that will develop you professionally and advance your career. We have a full slate of dynamic educational sessions, curated networking and benchmarking events, and an environment conducive for making business deals. Simply put, you are sure to add to you captive knowledge at the 2022 VCIA Conference, and more than that, it will be a triumphant celebration of the captive industry at large. Be sure to follow the #VCIA2022 hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I should mention (before I enlist you in another conference prize opportunity!) that I highly recommend booking your hotel and travel flight plans as soon as possible in order to avoid any complications. There are rooms still available at the VCIA group rate, but they are going fast, so head to our conference lodging page and be directed to local hotels who carry our group rate.

I’m a horse racing fan and I enjoy placing some modest bets down when I’m at the track. In that spirit, we are expecting a banner year, and as insurance professionals you are all concerned with risk and the odds that something might or might not occur. So, I introduce you to the VCIA version of ‘How Many Jelly Beans are in the Jar?’  I believe that our total attendance count will be 1,048. Are you taking that over or under? My guess includes exhibitors, staff and all classifications of attendees – i.e. anyone with a name badge! Let me know your number, and if I’m the closest, I will make a $50 personal donation to ICCIE (www.iccie.org), the captive insurance industry’s educational non-profit.  If someone beats me, I will make a $100 donation in their name!  We will, of course, also recognize the best prognosticator! Send your guesses to kmead@vcia.com

Need a little help to formulate your guess? Check out our Conference Attendee page to see who has already registered!

How many people will be in attendance at our conference? Take a guess and email Kevin!

See you in August – if not before! 

VCIA Staff Spotlight: Dave Rapuano

Graphic Design extraordinaire. Fluent in all things tech. When he’s not making sure webinars are going smooth, you can find him on the slopes or playing volleyball. Meet VCIA’s Communications Assistant, Dave Rapuano

Along with industry-leading educational sessions and curated networking events, VCIA’s 37th Annual Conference is simply going to be blast. It will be a productive AND enjoyable time—guaranteed. That said, I have a couple of fun “branding” initiatives up my sleeve (after all, this will be my first conference as VCIA president, so I want to make it memorable!). Staff trivia will be one of them, so read this staff spotlight, the two that profiled myself and Francis McGill, and look out for the rest in the weeks to come. We’ll pose some staff questions at the conference and if you get them right you could win a nice little gift!

Dave Rapuano is the VCIA go-to person when troubleshooting a computer issue. An on-his-feet problem solver, he uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence, whether that be our website, webinars, or the virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021.

An on-his-feet problem solver, VCIA staff member Dave Rapuano uses his background in digital media to help build a reliable and efficient ecosystem of VCIA’s online presence

Dave doing what he loves best!

A Connecticut native, he moved to the Green Mountain State to attend Champlain College and explore the bounty of outdoor activities available in Vermont. Snowboarder? Check. Hiker? Yup. He also coaches a high school varsity volleyball team. And what else? Dave is an avid fly fisherman! Ask where he’s favorite fishing spot is and he’ll tell you, “Camel’s hump way up high on a little creek catching beautiful wild brook trout.”

Make sure to say hello to Dave at the next gathering! Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Staff Spotlight: Director of Communications Francis McGill

A newbie gardener. Film, music, and book enthusiast. When he’s not at work he’s probably changing a diaper. Meet VCIA’s Director of Communications, Francis McGill

As we approach the 2022 VCIA Conference, we are going to introduce you to VCIA staff. Of course, many ‘need no introduction,’ but with many new members and after two years away, it won’t hurt. So please get to know Francis. And do please play close attention, we there will be a quiz—I’m serious! At the conference we will ask a few questions about our staff and those who answer them correctly will be eligible to win a prize or two!

VCIA’s Director of Communications Francis McGill

Francis became VCIA’s Director of Communications in January 2022, and he’s pleased to play a role in creatively promoting VCIA values and programs. He’s especially enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference. That captive insurance spans so many industries—from healthcare, to manufacturing and entertainment companies, to higher education, you name it!—has really sparked Francis’s interest in realizing how complex it is to safeguard employees and company property, among other things. Rarely thinking of insurance besides his healthcare and home and auto, he’s impressed now that there are so many different kinds that captives cover!

Francis has enjoyed e-meeting so many folks in the industry and looks forward to solidifying those relationships come the VCIA Spring Mixer and at the Annual Conference.

In his home life, Francis enjoys living in the “country” up near the Green Mountains with two cats, his wife, and their 6 month old son, Herschel. Francis and Charlotte are first time parents and have experienced the range of emotions that parenthood brings, from the tremendous excitement of seeing their boy roll over for the first time, to the tremendous fatigue of waking in the middle of the night to feed him, and then starting the day off bright and early at 5:30am. Herschel is their pride and joy, and yes, the cats are getting used to him, somewhat.

Francis lives somewhere up that road!

Fun facts about Francis

  • He and his wife grow vegetables in a greenhouse on their property; they are currently harvesting delicious spinach that overwintered
  • The last film he saw that made a powerful impression on him was The Power of The Dog, partly because of the cinematography and partly because of the amazing soundtrack (done by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood)
  • He reads for pleasure during the few minutes of free time he might have at the end of the day. He subscribes to Harper’s magazine and loves its high-quality writing. Especially for finance and insurance people, he recommends this fascinating and funny profile on the Bitcoin scene in Miami

All in all, communication matters most to Francis—how we share and what we share. He greatly appreciates that his role at VCIA allows him to learn so much about captive insurance while wordsmithing and designing communications in all kinds of forms that compel people to connect with and participate in the VCIA mission.

Make sure to say hello to him at the next gathering! Have an idea or want to just drop him a line? Email Francis at fmcgill@vcia.com. Stay tuned for another staff spotlight soon, and remember to take some notes so you can win a prize at the conference!

Registration opens May 16th!

Plan Ahead for VCIA’s August Conference

My crystal ball proved correct when I predicted Kansas to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. My next fortune-telling stunt? I foresee airfare and lodging for our conference to be quite competitive, so book sooner rather than later!

The VCIA Conference is already cropping up on the horizon…

Anyone bet on Kansas based on my advice of last week? Turned out it was the opposite of a kiss of death: the Jayhawks beat Villanova in the Final Four and won a close game against the UNC Tar Heels in the championship! 

I usually have zero ability at this sort of thing, seriously, but I do have another tip for you as solid as the Jayhawks winning it all…

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont. We are a small city (Burlington) and a small state with a big heart. Logistically that means there’s only a limited amount of lodging and airfare options, so it’s crucial you start making your plans quite soon. Some hotels are already fully booked, so follow this link to ensure you receive the conference hotel block discount.

The 2022 VCIA Conference will be epic. I’ve heard from scores of people about how excited they are to return to Vermont.

I would also suggest making airline reservations if you are coming in from out of town. Kayak, among a host of other sites, tracks all available flights to Burlington airport. Like with lodging, the sooner the better!

If you are not on our mailing list, visit our website and sign up through the mailing list pop up bar. You can also submit your information on our conference landing page at http://vcia22.live/bvt and you will be alerted to registration. Our May 16th registration is approaching fast and I encourage you to start putting your plans in place!

I’ve seen the demand to meet in person at other events, and listened to the members and stakeholders talking up our event. With my Kansas prediction, I’ve earned my chops as a fortune teller. This next bet is a bit of a no-brainer!

Captive Insurance and Rugby: Staff Spotlight on President Kevin Mead

Captive Insurance is a bit like rugby. Let me tell you why.

Just three weeks in, and I have quickly learned some truths about the captive insurance industry. Truth number one: how badly it is understood by those outside. Even those that have a knowledge of risk or insurance sometimes seem to shake their heads and mutter darkly when the subject is raised. Truth number two: that external lack of knowledge (or potentially confusion) means that the industry itself is tight knit, cooperative, and friendly.

Over 25 years ago, authors Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff co-authored a book called Co-Opetition in which they used game theory to suggest that businesses should cooperate to “grow the size of the pie,” and then compete for a larger slice of that enlarged pie.  Seeing the way in which board members and other VCIA volunteers are working together for the benefit of the association and for the industry is almost a case study in what the authors refer to.

“Real success comes from actively shaping the game you play—from making the game you want, not taking the game you find.”

― Barry J. Nalebuff, Co-Opetition

A second thing that has struck me is the number of rugby people there are in the captive industry. And there are similarities! To the uninitiated, rugby looks dangerous, risky, and somewhat unmanaged. To those that know the game, it is subtle, nuanced, athletic, and referred to as “the game they play in heaven.” On the field, rugby players are intensely competitive, but once the final whistle blows the bruises and battles are forgotten and a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support comes to the fore.

So, rugby as a metaphor for captive insurance? Perhaps that is too much of a reach! But my predecessor, Rich Smith, commented to me multiple times that the essence of the VCIA was built around mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of all being in the same league—if not all on the same team.

For me, rugby season is about to start up. This Saturday, the 19th, I will be refereeing at a tournament put on by the University of Vermont women in Burlington. Feel free to check this out or any rugby game in your location and see if my comments on the similarities hold any water!