I actually had a bias against the insurance industry when I was preparing to go to work. The systems were archaic, and I was versed in more modern-day technologies. I started my career in the document imaging business, developing software to store images, moving away from the manual paper folders. When it was time to move on, I found a job posting in the newspaper (that was where you looked for jobs back in “the day”) for an insurance company that was progressive with technology. I joined an incredible company called Executive Risk and began my long-standing career supporting insurance processes with client-server, C++ and SqlWindows applications. Couple that with going to underwriting roundtables, insurance conferences, and learning how insurers were developing new products, and I was hooked.
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What do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?
I have always been attracted to new ways of doing things, new technologies and looking beyond the traditional way of doing things. When I entered the insurance industry, I was fortunate to be part of an innovative insurance company. When I met and joined the guys from Duck Creek Technologies, I was amazed at the fresh perspective in providing product configuration tools that ran on the internet. Duck Creek was first, but other vendors followed suit, rearchitecting their products to do the same. Duck Creek had a compelling proposition for the insurance industry, and all the vendors were “me too” at that point. When I learned about the unique microservices, open architecture and had the opportunity to build a new company to provide insurance specific microservices, I finally found something, a value proposition that was compelling. Insurers have invested millions of dollars in core systems and these small autonomous components could not only be used for a wide variety of projects but can also extend the existing legacy investments. For example, why not create a single-user experience that fronts multiple back-end legacy systems? Or, why not extend the legacy to reach other eco-systems. In a way, it was like Duck Creek all over again. I knew OWIT Global had hit on something valuable. I believe microservices are today’s “next-gen technology” that insurance organizations will soon start to embrace more widely, and I love opening the industry’s eyes to ways of solving problems differently. With the advent of insurtech, insurers are becoming open to the possible. However, in solving the core problems, the industry continues to look to the traditional approach. It is time to think outside the box again.
If you had to pick one technology trend that will fundamentally transform insurance over the next 5-10 years, what would it be?
Microservices with a “no-code” toolset has the potential to transform the way insurance organizations “do” technology in the next 5 to 10 years. Today, microservices can serve the purpose of extending the legacy system and getting new solutions to market quickly. And, with a no-code tool base, there is a true drag-and-drop experience with needed code generated automatically on the back end. Looking at the future of our business and the advancement of microservices, I believe we will see the evolution of a digital ecosystem that will need to not only receive data, but will need microservices to validate the communication, evaluate the data, and intellectually execute. We don’t know what the next ecosystem will be, so why not open our minds to think of how we can support the potential versus the existing?
What recommendations do you have for young female professionals entering into the insurance on how to find a mentor and develop the relationship?
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to find mentors within the companies I have worked for, within my customers, my family, and from the universities with which I have been involved.
Recently, I finished a third academic degree, a Master of Science in organizational psychology. This degree was incredibly helpful for me as I gained additional awareness of factors that make one successful in creating a culture within an organization. I highly recommend this area of study for anyone who has been in the workforce and thinks they know how to manage workplace dynamics. There is so much more to be aware of! In terms of mentoring, a person should find someone who is involved in something that they are interested in and more importantly, someone they respect. It is absolutely ok to ask that person if they will be a mentor. Most people will find it flattering, and ultimately, rewarding. And, getting together with a mentor does not have to take a lot of time. For example, lunch once a week to talk through issues and ideas can be just enough time.
I am also a believer that companies should have formal mentor programs. I work for a relatively small company today, however, I believe a program to onboard and encourage new employees can be beneficial now and as we continue to grow. In fact, when I took this role as a CEO of OWIT Global, I looked around to find mentors who could help me as I determined the best ways to execute my job. Luckily for me, I have had the benefit of a few of my board members. Every CEO job is different by industry, company size, and more. Not a lot of CEOs are lucky enough to have a mentor, but they probably all need one.
People should look at this as a knowledge-based approach. From my earliest days as a software developer, through my job of introducing the nascent Duck Creek Technologies product to the insurance industry, to my current position as head of a new microservices business, I learned about the business by listening, asking and doing.
What positive changes have you seen since you began in your career?
The acceptance of new technology is probably the biggest and most positive change I have seen in the industry since I began my career. I truly believe there was a bit of this 20 years ago when we hit the industry with the tool-based environment, and the approach to replacing legacy systems still remains a constant. Today, we find insurers creating senior innovation and strategy roles to evaluate new ways of doing things. This is a huge movement for our industry. I believe we are, now more than ever, highly focused on solutions that meet the need of the new technologies, such as apps and texting. In looking at the core, insurers continue to think about replacing the legacy. We need to move ahead of this viewpoint and start to think of how we can leverage these investments and move the business ahead at a quicker pace.
I am glad to see insurtech has become a "conversation" that allows insurers to think of different ways tech can help their businesses. At the end of the day, there has to be a business case for it," which is why architectural changes in the industry like microservices and APIs make business sense for insurers to invest in.
Wendy Aarons-Corman’s has proven success in launching and growing software companies by setting business strategy, direction and market position. She serves as an insightful leader who can foresee the market direction and create business development plans that result in revenue. Wendy also takes pride in developing team relationships and creating team play books to improve communications and synergies.
Today, Wendy oversees OWIT Global, a global insurance technology provider offering insurance-specific microservices designed to simplify innovation and processing. OWIT Global’s catalog of microservices offers insurers options; extend their legacy environment or create new solutions.