Insurance Industry Leader Turned Faculty Member Brings Experience to Classroom, Leads UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management

Ivan Hudson, Director of the UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management and Lecturer, joined the College of Business faculty in fall 2023. In this interview, he shares his insights about his first semester, his advice for students, and his vision for what’s ahead in 2024.

Give us some highlights of your experience in the business environment from before you joined the UCA College of Business Faculty.

I got my career start with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. In November of 2008 I went to work for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as Program Associate. At this time in 2008, two-thirds of Arkansas voted to pass the Lottery legislation. Fast Forward to October of 2009 when I joined the start-up management team at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Over the three and a half year period that I was there, I served in a number of capacities, including Procurement Director and Internal Operations Director. I’ll completed my MBA while there, and when I finished my MBA program at UALR December 2012, I launched the Ivan Hudson Agency as my entry into the insurance industry. In March 2014, I secured my Series 6 and Series 63 designations to help set me apart in the industry.

Networking has always been important to me. My personal and professional mantra is “You can network or not work, but you can’t do both.” That really speaks to my core value of building relationships. Solid meaningful relationships, will take you places that even education and other resources can’t.

Career Facts about Director Hudson:

  • December 2012- Received MBA from UALR
  • December 2012 – Launched the Ivan Hudson Agency
  • 2017-2018 – President of Rotary Club of West Little Rock
  • President, National African-American Insurance Association – Arkansas Chapter
  • Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas, Education Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, National Diversity Council
  • NAREB National Insurance Committee (NNIC) Member

How did you hear about this position at UCA and what led you to focus your time in the classroom?
Although the insurance industry is robust and dynamic, it also is relatively small. When networking and getting involved in industry associations, I made meaningful connections that landed me at events on UCA’s campus. After learning more about the Insurance & Risk Management program, I connected with UCA’s EFIRM department and maintained ongoing communication. Once I learned that my predecessor had re-entered the industry and the Director role was vacant, I actually put on my thinking cap to see if I could help identify a strong candidate for the search committee to consider. The more I looked at the qualifications, I realized that I had the skillset and experiences that would provide unique perspective in the classroom. I was at a cross-section in my career where I decided the best use of my time was to leverage my experiences to invest in students.

Why did you choose the Insurance field as your subject of work?
The subject actually chose me. After working in economic development, private philanthropy government administration, I made a career transition December of 2012. I was fascinated by insurance and financial services after identifying there were huge gaps with consumer access and education around very basic principles. I launched an insurance agency and became an active professional in the industry by getting involved with various industry organizations. Insurance is a lot more technical than people realize, so I would spend a lot of time educating my clients. It’s the same energy and commitment to education that I bring when teaching in the classroom.

What about your job now teaching brings you the most joy?
I am thrilled about engaging with my fellow faculty members to bring real-time experiences to students that they would not get from lectures or just reading a text book. Part of my role requires me to serve as the Faculty Advisor for the the student organization dedicated to students pursing insurance and risk management, actuarial science and related degrees – Gamma Iota Sigma. Pouring into students and seeing their level of interest and understanding evolve is very rewarding.

Fall was your first semester here. What was your favorite part or memory from the semester?
My favorite part of the fall semester was hearing and seeing the students perspective evolve regarding various insurance topics and applications. Having a front row seat to students have “light bulb” moments and witnessing their level of understanding and interest grow was absolutely fascinating. There were even a few students that changed their major to Insurance & Risk Management.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
I would encourage students to keep an open mind to the myriad of careers that await them by obtaining a degree from UCA COB. The business climate can be very fast-paced and dynamic and simultaneously, very rewarding!

I’m a huge advocate for our Insurance & Risk Management program, because it is the only one of its kind in the state of Arkansas. If a student decides not to pursue Insurance & Risk Management as a major, it is still available as a consideration for a minor. Our institution and the College of Business specifically, is a primary source for local, regional and even national employers looking for top talent, no matter the major/minor. Business students have access to internship and real-time experiences that could lead to fascinating job and career paths.

After moving to the classroom, how do you envision 2024 being different for you ? What new goals and perspectives do you have going into this new year?
For 2024 and beyond, I believe it is important to continue highlighting the value of UCA’s Insurance program as the only one of its kind in Arkansas. There are lots of real-time changes in the insurance and financial services marketplaces that dictate future job and career opportunities that await our students. To that end, I would like to facilitate additional opportunities for industry leaders and professionals to engage with and inspire students in our program, and especially students that actively participate in Gamma Iota Sigma. The Alpha Psi Chapter housed here at UCA is the campus RSO geared towards networking and leadership development opportunities for students in insurance and risk-related fields. Personally, I plan to learn more about the UCA campus community and the at-large Conway community.

Aside from his duties as the Director of Center for Insurance & Risk Management at UCA, Hudson can be found this semester teaching in the classroom: one “Introduction to Insurance” course, one “Risk and Insurance” course, and two Insurance Practicum courses as well as an online “Risk and Insurance” course. He also is the sponsor for the Gamma Iota Sigma registered student organization on campus.