Meet Your CEBS Instructor: Mark Dunlop, CEBS

Meet the CEBS Instructor

Learning with others helps you gain a new perspective. Would you like to gain insights from benefits industry peers in different industries, sectors and provinces as well as from an expert instructor? Many CEBS® candidates rely on CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support for extra help on their learning journeys.

CEBS​​ Online Study Groups are an optional educational resource designed to complement the self-study approach. Offered over a 12-week session, Online Study Groups set a schedule for your study efforts and are facilitated by established and experienced CEBS professionals.

What does an online instructor do?

Your online instructor has many roles, including:

  • Designing all content and activities in your class to help you retain knowledge and study for your CEBS exam
  • Facilitating live review sessions
  • Monitoring the discussion forum to provide clarification and guidance to learners
  • Creating discussion questions for each module and Benefits in Action Mini Case to stimulate engagement and enhance learning about employee benefits
  • Sharing their real-world experience about being a benefits professional
  • Answering questions that students submit via the discussion forum, email and private message.

A Chat with Mark Dunlop, CEBS

Principal, Designed Benefit Incentives
GBA 2—Directing Benefits Programs Part 2

Mark Dunlop, CEBS
How has earning the CEBS designation enhanced your career?

The CEBS program not only provided me the tools to strategically apply information and industry knowledge, but it also helped me to professionally look at issues from various perspectives, including those faced by decision leadership teams at various sizes of unions and public, corporate and nonprofit employers. It also helped to see issues from the perspectives of third-party administrators, employer or union plan administrators, board members, brokers, consultants and participants, which enabled me to easily empathize with many of the personnel involved in plan design.

What will benefits professionals learn from the GBA 2 course?

GBA 2 places a particular emphasis on managing and directing employee benefit plans while clarifying the ever-changing dynamics of the United States health care system. The course provides tools and sample case studies to help benefits professionals advance organizational objectives by enhancing benefits program design, pricing and operations. The Study Materials also consider emerging marketplace innovations in care delivery platforms and quality improvement initiatives, addressing not only opportunities and challenges in the health care arena but also in the full benefits arena, including disability, long-term care and life insurance. The course explores many considerations for plan design including how to address the changing dynamics of the U.S. health care system, rating and premium settings, and considerations for controlling risk factors. It also addresses considerations for self-funding versus being fully insured, utilizing a “private exchange” as well as capitalizing on the enhanced delivery landscape including the patient-centered medical home.

What has been a recent industry trend related to concepts your course explores?

As designing health care programs for 2022 is already underway, one can see that many concepts in GBA 2 are already being applied, especially as employers and unions are focused on safeguarding employee’s data and health. There is a renewed focus on tech-driven innovations, including health apps that offer improved safety measures and early-warning systems to reduce illnesses, mitigate issues to prevent them from becoming chronic or acute, and minimize the likelihood of contagious illnesses spreading. There’s definitely a movement toward virtual care for medical health care, including behavioral health care, as well as nonintrusive monitoring devices such as diabetic readings, sleep duty remote readings and even heart sensors.

What are your best study tips for CEBS students?

Years ago, Dr. Jerry Rosenbloom, an author of many CEBS program textbooks, shared some valuable wisdom with me at an instructor conference that he was facilitating in Philadelphia. I still remember a lesson he taught other instructors about adult education. He said that instructors should recognize that adult learners approach education differently than younger students do, partly because they can bring real-world experiences into perspective, which often enriches lessons and the whole learning approach. This is one of the advantages adult learners have. There’s an option to register for an Online Study Group, which encourages interaction with other benefits professionals, which helps reinforce learning. Being part of a community of learners can also reduce anxiety when folks realize they are not alone in preparing for their CEBS exams

Can you think of any CEBS success stories you would like to share?

For me, one of the nicest things about the CEBS program is the networking opportunities it offers between peer candidates, graduates and others affiliated with the program. I still remain in contact with peers I met years ago, and the network continues to help me grow in the field. I am a huge advocate for candidates and graduates to get involved in the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists, even while still studying for CEBS exams, for interaction with this peer group is quite uplifting. The peer networking with my CEBS “family” has been, and continues to be, a huge blessing for me in my career. I still remember the comfort when I moved to St. Louis, Missouri from Miami years ago and the feeling of already having a ready-made network of professionals to network with, which helped me with my geographic transition. Likewise, on several occasions when I was looking into options for a solution, I was able to tap into the CEBS peer network I’ve developed for their considerations, which helped me with the projects I was asked to research.

Learn more about CEBS and the CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support.

Do you need guidance on your CEBS journey?  Whether you’re about to take your first step or you’re getting close to reaching your designation, we’re here to help!  Give us a call at (800) 449-2327, option 3, or e-mail