Women in Insurance: Sharon Fox, Director of Business Development, TrustLayer

Digital Transformation, Women in Insurance - July 23 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, we connect with Sharon Fox, CIP, CRM, Director of Business Development at TrustLayer. Sharon is a risk management and insurance leader with more than 12 years of combined experience in the sector. Prior to joining TrustLayer, she held roles at Indio Technologies (acquired by Applied Systems), Aon, TD Insurance, and also has a consulting business providing Risk Management Services to mid-market firms.

Sharon, you’re one of the few people who didn’t fall into the insurance industry but chose it. Tell us about your path to insurance and insurtech. What attracted you to the industry?

I went on a trip to California many years ago and started researching jobs that were in high demand there and came across the insurance industry. After some research, I decided to pursue an education in the sector. Post-grad I spent a short time as a property damage claims adjuster prior to joining Aon. This was an excellent training ground and foundational to my knowledge of many industries, insurance and global placements.

This acumen allowed me to start my own Risk Management Consultant Business, Mitigate, which inevitably propelled my passion for technology to improve the customer experience, leading me to Indio and now TrustLayer.

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

Throughout my insurance career, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some incredibly passionate, driven individuals that make working in this industry very fulfilling. TrustLayer is an amazing place to be every day and I am fortunate to get to work on many exciting projects. It is very rewarding and exciting to get to work with all of our insurer, agency, investor and industry partners to drive collective change for major problems within the industry.

Large insurance companies and insurtech startups can be strange bedfellows. You’ve had experience on both sides. How can insurers and insurtechs successfully navigate the clash of organizational cultures, and what are the secrets to a successful insurer-insurtech partnership?

These can be challenging relationships to navigate but can be very beneficial for both insurers and insurtechs. Collectively pooling resources for a common goal can help accelerate implementation and adoption. The key areas that can lead to successful collaboration are starting small with a pilot or trial, and ensuring regulatory and vendor compliance is progressing or achieved. Insurtechs should ensure they are working with the stakeholders who understand the problem and business opportunity and are able to champion your company and maintain timelines.

Insurtechs can be highly influential in helping insurers evolve their organizational cultures and are often looked to learn from in the sector.  

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

With the hard market and now COVID 19, I think we should expect to see a massive shift in the industry toward digital transformation. The changes most felt will come out of Lloyds, but I also think we will see widespread adoption of digital submissions, signatures, payments, and real-time proof of coverage.

Instead of ‘closed’ legacy systems, we will see carriers and brokerages adopt much more innovative tech stacks and architecture. There will no longer be a one-size-fits-all approach to technology.

If you had to pick one technology trend that will fundamentally transform insurance over the next 5-10 years, what would it be?

I wouldn’t call it a technology trend, but I think data and analytics have the power to truly transform the industry and possibly many others as well. Insurance has so much valuable historical and current data that sits siloed and static on PDFs and paper. Through many different technological means, we have the opportunity to bring this information sitting on paper to life and provide more meaningful insights for decision making. Much of this will be achieved through AI, APIs, and Distributed Ledger Technology.

I would like to see more Regtech and technologies for facilitating international placements.

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

Insurance is full of fun, technical, and very challenging work. There is an abundance of great travel opportunities, people and most importantly the ability to help people in peril. Young professionals do not want to push, shuffle, and file paperwork. Companies can and should leverage technology to attract new talent to the industry. When you empower your employees with the digital tools required to provide a more technical, digital customer and employee experience, the industry will be much more attractive to work in.

According to a 2017 study, just 12 percent of insurance companies’ top corporate officers are women. Why do you think there are so few women in senior leadership roles in the insurance industry? Do you see a similar situation in insurtech with women in senior leadership?

Lending to the above on data, firms need to take internal ownership and accountability over these figures and take measurable action in order to effect change at every level of the organization. Executive leadership must be willing to have more seats at the table or give up seats when there is disparity in the voices being heard. Companies need to move away from business resource groups and work toward inclusive cultures. My observations of insurtech is there are even less women in leadership roles.

Whether it be insurance or insurtech the onus is on every stakeholder (customers, candidates, employees, investors, regulators) to have awareness of this and be willing to ask questions and take part in the conversation on equality and diversity.

As an insurtech leader, what advice would you give the next generation of women considering a career in insurance and technology?

I think it is important for the next generation of women to harness their leadership skills and foster new opportunities and not wait for them. Take advantage of professional development opportunities that an employer offers and get involved with industry groups and associations.

Surround yourself with positive, driven people and don't be afraid to continuously step out of your comfort zone. Platforms like LinkedIn are very powerful tools for expanding your network and learning. Find not only mentors, but champions in both men and women who can help propel your personal brand and career.


Sharon Fox TrustLayer

Sharon Fox is Director of Business Development at TrustLayer and has over 12 years combined experience in Insurance, Risk Management and Technology. She is passionate and committed to helping drive positive change within the insurance industry and the client experience. She previously had positions at a top tier brokerage and led the introduction of Indio Technologies to Canadian Brokers.  She owns a Risk Management consulting practice sponsored for Women in STEM by BDC, Deloitte and EDC. Sharon is driving business growth at TrustLayer, an insurtech helping millions of businesses automate and verify proof of coverage in real time.

 

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