Women in Insurance: Q&A with Amber Wuollet, Director, Marketing, Bold Penguin

Digital Transformation - June 2 2020

In this interview series, we profile women who are shaping the future of insurance. By highlighting their achievements and sharing their insights, we aim to have an open dialogue about what carriers, brokers and insurtechs can do to promote greater gender parity and diversity in the world of insurance and increase the number of women in leadership positions. This week, Amber Wuollet, Director, Marketing, Bold Penguin discusses what attracted her to insurance, how insurtech is transforming the industry, and what it takes to diversify insurance organizations.

Amber, tell us about your path to insurance. What attracted you to the profession?

I am still in awe of my luck of stumbling into this industry! It feels very serendipitous looking back. When I was job hunting as a new college grad, my sister who had enjoyed an internship with American Family, recommended I consider insurance. When I opened the newspaper job classifieds (dating myself here I suppose!) one of the first listings I saw was an entry-level operations role in my local American Family office. My team, manager, and a few amazing mentors turned an entry-level insurance job into a lifelong passion for the industry. They brought me into their world, taught me, and showed me what an incredible, impactful, and rewarding career you can have in insurance.

What do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?

At Bold Penguin we work with such a broad range of industry players – from agencies to large brokers to carriers like Nationwide and Progressive. It is so rewarding to help them solve their challenges and, in turn, help more small businesses get the coverage they need. In my role leading Marketing, I get to interact with leaders across the space and stay closely aligned to the industry. It’s so much fun and such an honor to be able to work with insurance professionals who are protecting the dreams and futures of businesses across the United States.

The insurance industry is in the midst of massive change. What do you think the insurance business will look like in five years?

As someone who spent the first ten years of my career on the carrier side before moving over into insurtech – one aspect I’ve been closely following and fascinated with is the merging of “incumbent” and “insurtech.” With the increase of partnerships, acquisitions, and collaboration, the legacy silos are beginning to crumble. I see this having a dramatic impact on the industry as the potential of new technology is realized and operationalized. McKinsey painted a vivid picture of this future in their famous “Insurance 2030” report and I don’t think they were too far off. The rapid innovation and collaboration we’re seeing today will be paying dividends in five years with real-time underwriting, highly customized coverage, and FANG-level customer experience.

The insurance industry faces a recruitment challenge with millennials choosing professions they deem to be more progressive, challenging and fun. What can insurers do to entice new talent?

We need to show them that insurance is progressive, challenging, and fun! I’ve seen a few insurers creating fantastic social media content such as videos showing life inside their walls. They’re highlighting their organizational culture as well as the impactful work that they’re doing. Others are already engaging Generation Z, showing up at colleges and universities, engaging with the local student community at events. They’re continuing the conversation, mentoring, and creating internships. I think the key is communicating with new talent pools using a multi-channel approach that is authentic to the organization. If you meet people where they want to be met and speak to them in an authentic way, they will respond.

What can insurance companies do to ensure that women not only stay in the profession but advance in their careers?

If a decade in underwriting taught me anything, it’s the importance of asking the right questions and gathering the right data. Companies with a male-dominated leadership team can easily make incorrect assumptions about what it takes to diversify their team. If an organization wants to see change, it must first understand its current state and be transparent about that. It takes intentionality and focus to change the status quo. Policies and procedures often need to be revamped to meet the needs of diverse groups – for example, adding in additional flexibility for work hours or modifying candidate selection structures. Engagement programs often need to be reassessed – are the activities the organization is offering employees and/or clients conducive to various groups? Dismantling unconscious bias and shifting culture doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen when it’s supported by intentionality and strategy.

What recommendations do you have for young female professionals entering into the insurance on how to find a mentor and develop the relationship?

If your organization doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, don’t let that deter you from creating that relationship! Take the leap and reach out. Put your feelers out and ask someone you hope to learn from for an informational interview or coffee date. Be clear about what you’re asking. What are you hoping to learn? How much time do you need? Is there something you can do to add value back to their life as well? As long as you are brief and professional in your request, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Seven years ago, I reached out to a leader who had my dream job. To my absolute shock, she met me for coffee. Not only did she play a significant role guiding my career development, we are still friends to this day and now our children play together! Each relationship and mentorship you develop over your professional career will be different than the last, but the important thing is that you keep reaching out and making those connections. At this point I’m not sure whether I’ve learned more from my mentors or mentees! 


Amber Wuollet, Director, Marketing, Bold Penguin

Amber Wuollet, Director of Marketing at Bold Penguin, has been influencing the insurance landscape for over a decade with her background in the underwriting discipline at American Family Insurance to her game-changing insurance video series, The Insurance Nerdery. She is a people-focused, creative leader who is energized by challenges and fascinated by the power of insurance. Amber is currently driving marketing efforts at Bold Penguin, an insurtech company creating a new infrastructure for the small commercial space.

 

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