The Argus Group offers students a deeper understanding of international markets

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Group shot of Argus employees in the office

By: Namish Modi (he/him)

Waterloo co-op students’ outstanding innovation skills are helping them to play a vital role in launching a new team at The Argus Group.

David SimonsDavid Simons (he/him)
Managing director at CoE

The company recently launched its new Center of Excellence (CoE) team focused on identifying innovative ways to meet the needs of stakeholders.

From the onset of their CoE, The Argus Group, a Bermuda-based financial services company, has been hiring co-op students to bring a unique perspective to their innovation efforts. The company offers insurance and wealth management products to customers in Bermuda, Malta, Gibraltar and across the Caribbean.

“The Center of Excellence division is our dedicated innovation team,” says David Simons (he/him), managing director at CoE. “They are charged with looking at how we respond to changing customer expectations and to bring in new solutions — whether they are technology-related, new ways of working, or new products and services.”

 
The CoE team has five full time staff focused on innovation who train and bring on two co-op students each term to assist.

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“We’re geographically dispersed, so it’s the right amount of people to have a cohesive team, provide a really good experience for the co-op students, and be effective with the innovation we are pursuing.

- David Simons (he/him), managing director at CoE


Co-op students within the CoE are fully integrated into the team’s workflow and projects. They are hired through WaterlooWorks under the title “Center of Excellence Associate”. In fall 2021, as COVID restrictions relaxed, the company began bringing co-ops to visit the organization’s headquarters in Bermuda.

The team at The Argus Group finds that co-op students can provide a different lens to help identify solutions to existing problems.

Many Waterloo co-op students have had life experiences in different areas of the world (China, Canada, and the United Kingdom for example) and bring different insights to the healthcare experience in Bermuda.

2021 Employer Impact Award for Impact

“We are working on tools to help our customers achieve personal goals,” says Simons. “Our students have been instrumental from the design and development to devising testing plans. This helps us to make a difference in our customers’ lives.”
 
Argus group logoThe Argus GroupImpact in International Excellence2021 CEE Employer Impact Awards

Argus Group won by providing students with a memorable and impactful opportunity to work in an international organization.

 

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“Working with organizations in international markets presents incredible opportunities to our students to develop globalized mindset, adaptable leadership skills and intercultural competencies, which is a key area of the Future Ready Talent Framework. The Argus Group facilitates the development of these skills by providing rich, meaningful experiences in a rapidly evolving industry landscape.

- Shabnam Ivković, director of international strategic initiatives in CEE


Autonomy is key

“I think that autonomy is a really key aspect of the experience of being a co-op student at The Argus Group,” says Simons. “We want to connect people to our overall purpose and that is to make people’s lives meaningfully better, improve their well-being and improve their wellness. We say (to students) ‘here’s the challenge, go off and figure how to solve it, and let’s come back and discuss your proposed methodology.’”

In their roles, students embark on formal learning experiences such as design-thinking master class and lean startup training. In 2021, students attended conferences and delivered summary presentations to executives about what they learned.

In winter 2021, students conducted customer interviews and researched financial wellness needs with consumers across the geographic reach of the organization. The research helped The Argus Group derive insights to design a financial wellness offering. Students also researched challenges and opportunities in the healthcare systems of The Argus Group’s operating area and used their own personal experiences to help improve the experience of patients.



During his co-op work term, Peter Bondi (BEng’ 22) was given a lot of autonomy and independence to contribute to the team. He took on a leadership role in the selection and development of an idea management software pilot project.

Bondi (he/him), a Management Engineering student during his fifth work term at The Argus Group, is now a full-time staff member at the company. 

“I was able to push, I was able to grow, I was able to learn,” says Bondi. “I was able to contribute — and contribute to such an extent that I got a return offer to come back after graduation.”

Bondi believes his ability to effectively facilitate meetings is one of the most impactful skills he developed at The Argus Group.

Peter BondiPeter Bondi (he/him)
Co-op student of BEng’ 22

 

“Just coming with an agenda, being prepared to chair the meeting, coming with time boxes, understanding what our objectives are, and what decisions we need to make,” says Bondi. “That is something that was drilled into me, from the first month of my co-op experience at The Argus Group. It is something that I am going to carry with me for the rest of my professional career and beyond.”

As a full-time employee, and through his own lived experiences, Bondi now heads up the organization’s co-op program — a decision Simons says was obvious.

“I want to empower him to grow this and execute the program that we’ve had the last few years and try to make it bigger, better, more impactful,” says Simons. “And, to use proximity to build our campus presence.”

Simons works in Bermuda, but Bondi resides and works remotely from the Region of Waterloo — much closer to the Waterloo campus. Bondi has been fielding requests from colleagues asking for Waterloo co-ops for their own teams, showing the positive impression the co-op program is making at The Argus Group.


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“Our goal is to provide (students) with real developmental experience where they’re going to be challenged, they’re going to be mentored, and they’re going to be coached. Students get a lot of personal attention, working very closely with a small, but really engaged passionate team.

- David Simons (he/him), managing director at CoE