Perseverance, communication and innovation are just a few of the words used to describe Jeff Aarssen.
Aarsseen, the recently retired vice-president of group customer sales at Great-West Life Assurance Co., received the award for industry leadership at Benefits Canada’s 2018 Workplace Benefits Awards in Toronto on Oct. 11.
“It’s very meaningful, personally,” says Aarssen. “It means that 38 years in this industry has been recognized by others, which is really nice, as well as the contributions that have been made by myself and others — because a lot of the things you do are not just by yourself, you’re part of committees, you’re part of a team, you’re part of a group of people trying to move an issue forward.”
Looking back on a full career, Aarssen has contributed to a number of industry issues, including pension reform. He has met with the highest offices in Canada and think-tanks, crafting several open letters to help decision-makers understand the potential impact of their policy choices. Also, as the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association crafted its G19 guideline on compensation disclosure this year, he was involved in an advisor capacity.
Aarssen was also involved in developing Great-West Life’s student loan retirement savings program and its group retirement savings access website, which delivers real-time information and transactions to plan members. He also played a key role in a number of mergers during his career, including the integration of Prudential with London Life in 1996, London Life with Great-West Life in 1997 and Canada Life with Great-West Life in 2003.
Personally, he’s active in a charitable capacity with Hockey Helps the Homeless, the Arthritis Society of Southwestern Ontario, Huron University College and the London Community Foundation.
Aarssen also showed tremendous perseverance in overcoming a diagnosis of severe rheumatoid arthritis in his 20s. Since then, he’s acted as a lobbyist for the coverage of biologics over long-term disability leaves and has spoken about the role the insurance industry can play in improving the quality of life for Canadian arthritis patients.
Speaking further on the award, Aarssen says, “It just means that day by day you go to work, you do the best you can, but it matters and it matters to others and that’s really kind of cool. It’s been a neat experience.”
Read the full list of 2018 Workplace Benefits Awards winners here.