Filed Under:Carrier Innovations, Information Security

Insurance IT All-Stars: Shining Brightly

Top IT executives are cherished by their companies today. Over the years, they have been forced to demonstrate their value. Many have risen to the occasion; some did not. It is easy to find the companies with good IT leaders—they are the successful companies.

Successful IT leaders have grown hand-in-hand with the technology solutions that enable an insurance carrier to achieve success in their market. It is possible for companies to have success with good technology in place and less than adequate leadership, but success is more likely when you have good IT leaders and less than adequate systems.

That’s because good IT leaders prove every day that they can bring value to carriers even while working with antiquated systems and clear objectives from the business side.

The right combination of leadership and technology sets companies apart, though, and that’s what the five executives we are featuring as the 2011 Insurance IT All-Stars have in common.

The class of 2011 includes: Judith Haddad, executive vice president, CIO/CTO of Patriot National Insurance Group; Larry Fortin, vice president and CIO, Millers Mutual Group; John Campbell, senior vice president and CIO, American Modern Insurance Group; Joan Falcetta, vice president in technology and operations with MetLife; and Carlos Correa,  assistant vice president and U.S. IT manager with Liberty International Underwriters.

We think you will enjoy their stories because they truly are success stories, both on a personal level and on a business level.

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Judith Haddad
Executive Vice President,
CIO/CTO Patriot National Insurance Group

How she is viewed by Karen Furtado, partner, Strategy Meets Action: “Judith Haddad has successfully applied her years of experience to mitigate risk and find just the right solutions to move her organization forward. She is very effective at working collaboratively with business leaders to align IT solutions to business capabilities that are effective and efficient and accomplish business goals. Judy is an expert at building sound IT teams and fostering a structure that cements an exemplary business/IT partnership. The practical approach that Judy has demonstrated positions Patriot Risk Management with the agility needed to meet business priorities.”

Judith Haddad knows there is a specific goal in mind for Patriot National Insurance Group, a workers’ comp carrier located in Florida.

“We want to think of premier solutions and be creative when it comes to our industry”, she says.

Haddad has been executive vice president, CIO/CTO for Patriot for just three years, but has gauged the real value of working there is the company’s business leadership, particularly Patriot’s CEO, Steven Mariano.

“Our CEO is an entrepreneur in spirit and a true supporter of IT,” she says. “When I stepped on board in 2008 it was truly a partnership. [Mariano] has supported me and my department on everything we were trying to accomplish.”

Insurers need a strong technology infrastructure and Haddad feels as the CIO she needs the ability to get her arms around any issue and pinpoint the root cause. On the application side, Patriot has an older StoneRiver system that it has outgrown. The carrier contacted consulting firms Strategy Meets Action and Novarica to evaluate the system and help the carrier decide what to do next.

Patriot found Paradox Technology Solutions, a new solution provider, but one with great knowledge of workers’ compensation and the insurance space, according to Haddad.

“They are great partners with us,” she says. “We are now on a path to replace our legacy system with a brand new policy and claims administration system. We’re on an aggressive schedule and hope to be live July 2012. That’s quite the undertaking.”

Such projects can be daunting, but Haddad believes the industry is wiser on such issues today after undergoing the mistakes of the past. The key phrase for such projects today is incremental deliverables.

“We did a proof of concept to make sure with Paradox,” says Haddad. “We know there is a gap between the time you purchase the system and put it in. What’s the size of the gap and what’s the understanding of the vendor that’s needed to fill that gap?”

The two-month proof of concept shook out what Paradox offered out of the box, according to Haddad, and enabled the two sides to learn that fixing the gap was doable within the agreed-on timeframe.

“There are few bells and whistles, just everything that will carry us to detach from an old legacy system by July 2012,” says Haddad. “Then, in the next six months after that, we’ll chunk out some other pieces and components that are value-added for doing more proactive screening of applications that are being submitted, and some additional claims and fraud functionality that will be built into the system.”

Haddad claims she enjoys working with vendors that truly feel a carrier’s pain, but admits it hasn’t always been like that.

“You were always at the mercy of your vendor,” she says. “Fixed pricing was unheard of; projects running late or over budget were notorious.”

Haddad reports more vendors are willing to work with carriers these days.

“Fixed pricing locks in a commitment I don’t think we were able to get five or seven years ago,” she says. “I think it truly joins vendors in the industry as a partner. There’s a level of commitment.”

Haddad’s view on leadership is you are either born with it or you aren’t.

“If you have to go to a leadership class you should probably rethink being a leader,” she says. “Leadership is germane to who you are. Passion and leadership are what carry you throughout your career.”

Moving up in importance, though, is the CIO’s business acumen.

“For us not to know the business side is a detriment,” she says. “Sitting in a meeting with my boss and my peers and understanding where they want to be today, tomorrow and five years from now is important because my mind has to be working in that direction.”

At least two issues keep Haddad up at night. (“Sleep is overrated,” she says.) Disaster recovery is one of them.

“It’s not for the things we’ve thought of, it’s for the catastrophes we haven’t yet thought of,” she says.

She believes Patriot has a solid disaster recovery plan in place, but what she likes to zero in on are the smaller things, such as having redundancy built into LAN/WAN support.

“These are the things I keep pushing my people to keep thinking about,” she says.

Patriot had a situation where a switch was blown and the IT staff wasn’t able to connect anyone to the network.

“I said what about accessing Citrix through the wireless access point, but wireless access was on the network,” she says. “We needed to put a wireless access point in each office off the network. It’s minor stuff, but it’s fine tuning that makes us great in the area of disaster recovery/business continuity.”

One of her first steps as CIO was to move the data center to the Boca Raton headquarters of Patriot’s co-location site, Host.Net. That partner also built a private cloud site in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, which will host Patriot’s disaster recovery.

“I love the idea because we can do so much more with cloud technology for disaster recovery,” she says.

The cost of disaster recovery solutions is a challenge.

“You know it’s important, but there’s a cap when you look at the return on investment,” says Haddad. “Doing it in the cloud allows you to gain significant value with what you can do for less money.”

A second issue that keeps her up at night is what to do with the huge amount of unstructured data Patriot collects—voice mail, email, and social media.

“We have to look at how to capture it, mine it, and create a structure we can use to our advantage,” she says. “What can we build into our new policy/claims admin system that has Web services built-in? We’re also thinking of how we can build those functions into our data warehouse.”

Haddad is confident Patriot is already addressing many of the key issues of today that will likely cause IT leaders to lose sleep five years from now, including issues such as mobility and social media.

“Those issues are on my plate now to devise strategies around,” she says. “I do think those companies that are not thinking about either cloud technology or getting their arms around the unstructured data piece will come up against some problems. Their leadership as a CIO in providing value-add would be at least constrained if they are not looking at some of those areas. I know from my own involvement with the ACORD CIO forum that a lot of folks who are my peers are thinking of these things and what I see is a strong group of CIOs out there. The struggle, as always, is finding a truly successful migration path.”

* * *

Larry Fortin
Vice President,
CIO Millers Mutual Group

How he is viewed by Deb Smallwood, founder, Strategy Meets Action: “Look to Larry Fortin to see a working example of how to strategically lead and productively deliver. He is a master at orchestrating a methodical, pragmatic approach to achieving business agility and flexibility for the enterprise. Larry has effectively leveraged his experience and knowledge to build and buy a combination of software and tools that align to both the business goals and the mid-tier sized budget of Millers Mutual—positioning them with wise technology investments and the platform to compete successfully across the marketplace.”

Larry Fortin believes many changes are in store for IT leaders over the next five years, but given the insurance industry’s market cycle and the normal domestic economic cycle, speculation on those changes amounts to simply guesswork.

“It’s hard to say five years from now what kind of business issues we will have and what kinds of IT solutions we can  put in place to solve them,” says Fortin, vice president and CIO of Millers Mutual Group. “To stay on the leading side of the bell curve, we constantly are looking at where we are today, where we are going to be in five years, and whether what we are doing today makes financial sense.”

Fortin regularly contemplates the question: Is our technology leading edge, or are we trying to be too far out in front for the financial size of our company?

For example, the number of business segments Millers writes is relatively small, but Fortin knows insurance is a mature industry and the way insurance carriers are going to grow is by fractions.

“Predictive analytics is how you are going to advance over your competitors,” he says. To be competitive in the market, Fortin is working to put a foundation in place to start analyzing 100 to 150 different segments of the business.

“Maybe you have a segment where a predictive analytics engine is telling you characteristics you want to stay away from,” he says. “You want to be able to react like that. We are spending money now with fewer business segments, but we know that’s where we want to go. If you wait five years and put a new infrastructure in place it would be hard to go back and retro-fit. It’s a fine line to hit the target you want to be at in five years without breaking the bank now.”

Fortin is excited about the possibilities that mobility and social media can bring to insurers, but believes his biggest task is to have the policy system in place for the future.

“As we look at a new claims system we are bringing mobile apps in the equation now,” he says. “I want to get the legacy system replaced so five years from now we can look at niche-type products to help our penetration into different markets. I want to easily provide the business with the data so we can react to where they want to go. Looking at where we need to go eventually, but replacing the foundation at the same time is difficult.”

One of the major initiatives at Millers has been consolidation of the systems. Fifteen years ago, reports Fortin, Millers was in 35 states with 1,500 agents and written premium of $18 million. In 2011, the carrier has 250 agents primarily operating in five states and $52 million in written premium.

“[Millers] reshaped the business and brought a finer-tuned focus on the IT side to help with the next evolution of the company,” says Fortin. “They felt their ability to compete—by leveraging technology—wasn’t where they needed to be. Their ability to leverage technology was on the lagging side of the bell curve and they wanted me to move it to the leading side and keep it there.”

Fortin and the business leaders at Millers put together a six-year plan that started from the ground up. The decision was made to migrate to the server environment. The carrier built a computer room with new wiring and established a strong SAN environment, explains Fortin.

The first software purchased was to establish both an agency portal and an employee portal, with the two connecting in different ways. Following that, the company looked over its rating and quoting needs.

“At that time, (two years ago) we had our BOP line of business available online for our agents to quote,” says Fortin. “We have since released a new online system for all our products, with the exception of umbrella. They can all be rated online.”

A new underwriting workflow is now being installed and Fortin explains it allows Millers to use service providers to look for liens, bankruptcies, or collections in the business owner’s history. The results come back through an XML schema where the information components are in a granular fashion so the carrier can determine if there are recommendations on the policy Millers can exit to an underwriter and if there are no recommendations and the risk is below certain thresholds and the series of rules Millers has in place, the policy will go straight-through.

From a business management perspective, Fortin explains Millers is a small regional carrier, but it has made it a priority to invest in the tools that make for the kind of future that the carrier envisions. At the same time, Millers is not so big that they have a lot of legacy systems they are trying to convert.

“We’re at a unique time where we have some of the resources that we need to do the conversion, but not so much that it is cost prohibitive,” says Fortin. “The management team here has seen to that. This isn’t a push on my part; it’s a pull on their part. They are extremely supportive and I have to work to keep up with them.”

The vendor selection process was something Fortin had done as a consultant. He believes the key issues are to understand where the business is and where they want to go and what the proper IT strategy is to put in place to support the business.

Fortin places equal value on technology knowledge and leadership, particularly for a company the size of Millers Mutual.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to have a seat at the table with other managers,” he says. “As we are looking at the business problems, I can walk away from those meetings and understand what makes sense from a business perspective as well as give my thoughts.”

The group makes decisions on how something is implemented. Millers employs people with strong knowledge of the history of the company, where the data is, and an understanding of issues in the past.

“I want them to be able to say if you do what you are thinking about, here is where you will run into some issues,” says Fortin. “Being able to tap into the IT resources that have been here for a while, those that are working in both worlds can bring some good insight. It’s a great conversation to have because you don’t want to find those problems in implementation; you want them to be a part of the design up front.”

* * *

John Campbell
Senior Vice President, CIO
American Modern Insurance Group

How he is viewed by Denise Garth of Innovation Group: “Leadership is about vision, planning, integrity, communication, influence, guidance, relationships and partnership. These attributes reflect John Campbell as the CIO for American Modern Insurance Group and his impact on their business transformation initiative with a phased approach to technology and business transformation guided by frameworks, architecture, roadmaps, communication and a robust business case. John’s vision to build a solid, defensible business case that is measured relentlessly and annually updated, has demonstrated ongoing business value and success of the transformation, contributing to their growth while using the business benefits to self-fund future projects. John has distinguished himself as a business leader, steadfast in the vision, and brings others on the journey.”

The pace of change in technology is faster than at any time in John Campbell’s 35-year career as an IT leader. To address the brave new world of insurance IT, Campbell, senior vice president and CIO of American Modern Insurance Group, feels it is important to have what he calls “vision-inspired leadership.”

Campbell strives to create a vision everyone can understand and follow, but knows such vision is difficult to maintain in today’s environment where things change constantly.

“The adoption of technology changes by consumers is outpacing business adoption,” he says.

Changes in the economy also have affected what IT leaders are trying to accomplish.

“If you look back at the 10-year period from 2001 to today, we’ve had a couple of market crashes,” he says. “The way companies have had to adapt to the economic climate is something we’ve never faced before. IT in a financial services-type corporation is really an enabler of what businesses have to do, so we’ve had to keep up with fast-paced changes and help companies adapt to a much different economic climate than they’ve ever faced before. The challenges of an IT leader today are much more complex than they were 20 years ago.”

Campbell believes that has changed the role of the IT leader to one where leadership has become more important than technical knowledge.

 “I can’t even keep up with all the technology changes. For a CIO, it’s leadership, direction, and focus that need to be provided,” he says.

Campbell has been in the insurance business for over 35 years. Prior to joining American Modern 12 years ago, he spent 18 years with Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE) Insurance and before that he was with a small regional insurer called the Midwestern Group that GRE purchased.

Campbell got the opportunity to develop and run the systems, move into management, and be responsible for more than just IT. GRE was a London-based worldwide insurer and Campbell went on to become part of GRE’s global IT board and strategy committee. Eventually GRE regionalized around the globe and Campbell was responsible for IT for the U.S., Canada, and South America.

He went into consulting in 1998 and played a leadership role at American Modern, where he helped put together an analysis of the carrier’s IT organization and strategy for supporting the business plan. He also worked as a member of a team to develop a roadmap for technology and business transformation. American Modern hired him as CIO in 1999.

American Modern’s parent at the time was the Midland Company. The company was later bought by Munich Re.

“I’ve come full circle,” says Campbell. “I went from a small regional insurer to a British global company to a mid-sized family-run specialty company back to a global company.”

For Campbell, working for a corporate entity that primarily deals in reinsurance has brought challenges to educate them on how the primary insurance market operates in the U.S.

“It’s not just an IT issue,” he says. “Munich Re management has come to understand that there are significant differences between requirements in the reinsurance and US primary insurance markets. But, the challenge comes in adequately anticipating, identifying, and defining those differences both in IT and other aspects of the business.”

Since taking charge of American Modern’s IT operations, Campbell has helped lead the specialty lines carrier through a transformation enabled by the technology that IT delivered.

“This was a company that had homegrown legacy COBOL applications for a Unisys DMS2 database environment,” says Campbell. “They had done a wonderful job, but the business model and the products offered had changed dramatically and the technology hadn’t changed with it.”

Campbell and the management team helped transform the IT department and the carrier’s applications to where American Modern now writes Internet-based applications and makes its policy administration processes accessible to its agents over a secure Internet portal.

The project had various deliverables along the way that generated benefits, which could then fund the next set of deliverables, according to Campbell. American Modern is still transforming from a legacy set of systems to more modern systems.

“We have a significant amount of Java development,” says Campbell. “We still have some COBOL in the back end, but all Java in the front end systems. We transformed everything from the infrastructure—hardware and software—to the development environments, and the skill sets of the people involved, while partnering with the business along the way.”

Campbell credits the business units for providing the leadership needed to help make the changes happen.

“It’s really quite transformational what this company has gone through the last 10 years,” he says. “It’s still going on. We talk about the journey and people ask how you can keep a project going so long. Well it’s a series of projects that follows a roadmap and is supported by a robust business case. The roadmap gives us opportunities along the way to deviate.”

For example, when American Modern began this transformation the carrier didn’t write motorcycle insurance, but along the way an opportunity came along to buy a book of motorcycle business.

“We had to pause along this journey and build all the applications to support the motorcycle book of business,” says Campbell. “The roadmap we put in place gave us the opportunity to take checkpoints and see if we still wanted to go in that direction. Without that we probably would have been blind to opportunities and maybe not taken advantage of them. It’s a curse and a benefit at the same time to have something running this long.”

Campbell is glad American Modern started its legacy transformation early, particularly when he looks around and sees so many other insurers just making the initial steps in that direction.

“I think in five years a lot of insurance companies will be going through legacy replacement,” he says. “Not that it will be the hot news anymore. It’s hard work. My experience here is it’s not for the faint-hearted.”

Among other technology changes he see affecting the industry over the next five years, Campbell believes social networking could be a game-changer.

“No one knows if it is selling more policies, helping to settle claims, improving brands or just what the benefits are,” he says.

But Campbell feels the power of the consumer is being exhibited through social media to change opinions and even lead the discussion on insurance topics.

“In some ways I could even imagine social media being involved in product design,” he says. “That easily will be a hot technology for another five years.”

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Joan Falcetta
Vice President in Technology and Operations,
MetLife

How she is viewed by Beth Grossman, Chief Learning Officer of ACORD: “Joan Falcetta’s commitment to the industry and to improving processes and efficiencies for all make her leadership stand out at both MetLife and at ACORD. She has a thorough understanding of the business and a broad background across the enterprise at MetLife giving her unique perspectives and enabling her to connect the dots between lines of business and functional areas of the company. This also allows her to leverage the ACORD standards most effectively. She generously shares that knowledge and insight with others. Joan is extremely articulate and engaging when speaking about standards and her ongoing dedication to the ACORD process continues to inspire others.”

Joan Falcetta has held a variety of positions within the IT operations of MetLife over her 23-year career with the financial services leader—both on the technical side and in leadership positions—but of the technical roles the one she loved the most was that of a data architect.

“I thought that absolutely was fun—taking technology and actually loving what I did everyday,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having designing databases and then the systems that use that data. That’s kind of geeky sounding, isn’t it?”

Falcetta discovered she had an affinity for development.

“I compared it with sculpture,” she says. “You start with a block—basically the last program because you never start from scratch—and you carve it into what you need this time. I loved that you could see that happen in front of you. It was just so easy for me to think in two dimensions—rows and columns. Even today, I prefer data in tables instead of written in text. I haven’t figured out how to think like a cube yet.”

Falcetta currently is a vice president in Technology & Operations for MetLife, responsible for the U.S. Business IT Shared Services organization, which delivers common solutions and services across U.S. Business and in some cases, the enterprise. She also serves as the vice-chair of the ACORD Standards Committee.

Falcetta left data behind, for the most part, to move into management in the late 1990s. She has worked in a variety of leadership positions and has gained an appreciation of the technology staff that does the day-to-day work.

 “The expectation that we never stop delivering value to our customers and keeping that momentum going is pretty daunting to me,” says Falcetta. “The expectation is that we are trusted partners, forward-looking, and give the business insight while successfully delivering on things that have to drive competitive advantage. And by the way, they have to be scalable, timely have quality, and be delivered at the best possible cost.”

For process changes that will affect all of MetLife’s U.S. Business IT, Falcetta leverages her own team first to interact with other parts of the IT organization.

“We don’t roll out anything unless we’ve vetted it or piloted it first,” she says. “When I present something to my peers, I have a good level of confidence that it’s the right thing to do, that it’s been working, and has good benefits.”

Many of the challenges insurance IT operations face haven’t changed, but Falcetta maintains the emphasis on technology keeps growing. Those challenges include governance and finding ways to drive operational efficiencies.

“Our business leader for U.S. Business, Bill Mullaney, uses the term ‘create financial capacity.’ What he’s saying is show me ways I can invest short term to save money so that we can then invest in more growth,” she says.

MetLife also focuses on issues such as legacy systems, regulatory compliance, and customer privacy, according to Falcetta.

“These are issues we’ve been addressing for years, but the focus continues to increase,” she says. “There are new challenges as well, such as mobility and social media.”

All insurers are trying to figure out how to fit mobile technology and social media into their customer-facing channels.

“Younger customers have an expectation around mobility. We have programs that are focusing on doing more online as well as focusing on the customers in that basic age group,” she says. “We have a rapid underwriting program for term life, which is moving [customers] toward an online experience while also reducing the amount of time it takes to do things. Also, distribution partners want to maximize their revenue therefore we need to be as easy as possible to do business with.”

Mobility is creating an easier and more cost effective way of doing business, explains Falcetta. The more flexible and innovative insurers become in that area the more they become a partner of choice to their distribution partners.

“That’s a great opportunity for us,” she says. “If you think about auto/home business, the distributors have many choices of carriers to pick from and they tend to gravitate toward the carrier that has the best experience for them.”

Falcetta believes social media and mobility are creating new channels for insurers.

“Mobility will be table stakes for all of our channels as we enable our partners and customers to do business the way they want to do business,” she says. “Think about a person 25-years-old and the only way to buy insurance is through an agent who comes into their home. That’s totally incongruous for that person. Having trusted insurance experts will always be a cornerstone of our industry, but we need to provide channel flexibility.”

Falcetta points out she can buy anything she wants on a smartphone, so why not life insurance?

“That’s where we need to get to and we have to get there sooner rather than later,” she says.

Another key issue for the industry is the need to reduce operational complexity, explains Falcetta.

“We need to retire and consolidate systems,” she says. “There is an overarching need to take some of the complexity out of our environment. That goes back to creating the financial capacity to do other things. If we are too busy working to keep the lights on, we might be missing other growth opportunities.”

As she has moved through IT leadership positions, Falcetta recognizes how difficult it is to maintain the technical knowledge she developed early in her career.

“It’s now a balance among the business focus, the business of technology, and the technology itself,” she says. “I have a great team of people with deep technical skills that enable me to look broadly at the technology, making sure we are moving in the right direction, taking advantage of developing opportunities while avoiding and mitigating risks.”

* * *

Carlos Correa
Assistant Vice President,
U.S. IT Manager Liberty International Underwriters

How he is viewed by Joe Pomilia, executive director of IASA: “Carlos Correa is definitely an insurance IT all-star. He has been a critical part of the success of IASA’s Technology Program at the Annual Conference during the last couple of years. Serving as our Director of Technology Program, Carlos has been able to advise committee members about industry trends, hot IT topics of interest to insurance carriers, and to help drive the development of a quality education program for conference attendees. His knowledge of insurance IT and his willingness to share that knowledge contribute not only to the betterment of his company and IASA, but to that of the industry as a whole.”

Carlos Correa may not be the first person who asked the question, but in a varied career that has crossed from finance to operations and finally to IT, he says he still wonders, “Do people really pick insurance or do you kind of just go there?”

Correa, assistant vice president and U.S. information technology manager for Liberty International Underwriters, made his first stop in the insurance industry for GRE as a claims handler in the marine division. Prior to that, he began in finance.

“It seemed natural for me to be an underwriter,” he says.

As time passed and GRE was purchased by Liberty, Correa was asked to join a project team as a subject-matter expert on the underwriting side as Liberty looked to implement a new technology solution.

Correa was on the project for nine months and helped implement the solution within all product lines across the globe. The success of the project helped lead him to make the decision to join the IT side.

Correa worked his way through the ranks of business analyst, to project manager to his current position.

IT was beginning to take on more importance within the walls of all insurance carriers and Liberty International Underwriters itself was blossoming.

“We were definitely at a rapid growth stage and the landscape was changing dramatically,” says Correa. “There was a lot of work to be done and having been in on that initial implementation project and with all the aspects of my background—finance, claims, and underwriting—I learned the systems inside and out. It gave me an advantage to have different levels of knowledge, having been on both sides of the house. I think that’s been instrumental in my career.”

Correa believes the challenges of IT leadership have been changing over the last few years.

“The technology solutions have changed; security is a higher concern; and speed-to-market continues to gain in importance,” he says.

The current economic climate and the condition of the market have made budgeting a struggle as most carriers seek to answer the question: How to do more with less.

“The challenges remain the same but they get shuffled in a different order,” says Correa. “The people, the relationships, and how you work those issues are the cornerstones to success as insurers execute plans and projects. That remains a constant.”

Unlike most of the people who report to Correa, he didn’t move up through the more traditional programming ranks. Still, Correa feels he has an advantage over other IT leaders.

“One thing that helps me to lead IT people is that my knowledge of the business side is something they can lean on,” he says. “Some people who are technically savvy gravitate to me to glean that business knowledge. At the same time they impart on me their technical knowledge. It works really well and from that perspective. It makes me a good mentor to some of my employees to impart some business knowledge on them.”

Correa also credits his growth and development as an IT leader to his association with the insurance trade group IASA. Like many insurance people, he got his first introduction to the organization through its annual conference. It was there that he not only picked up some educational opportunities, but found the value of new networking possibilities within the industry as well as seeing what industry software vendors had to offer the insurance community.

“It’s a good forum to be able to access a lot of knowledge in one place in a short amount of time,” he says.

Correa reports he was approached by people within the industry to become more involved with IASA. The organization is always on the lookout for carrier representatives to serve as volunteers and help within the organization.

“The organization wants to be guided by carriers to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their members,” he says. “Once I started volunteering I got on the technology committee and I’m now the director of the technology education committee.”

When asked which of today’s technology tools will have the most staying power in the insurance industry, Correa maintains social networking will continue to evolve.

“It’s something the insurance industry is just scraping the edge of right now,” he says. “There are more usages to be found.”

Correa also believes mobile technology will advance in importance over the next five years.

“I see [mobility] as something that is already at the front, but five years from now I think we’ll be even further down the road,” he says.

Data security is an issue that is unlikely to disappear.

“Date security is constantly tightening and I think the risks continue to grow,” he says.

Still another issue to deal with involves legacy systems and core replacement.

“I see a lot of organizations that are building around their legacies or are front-ending them with newer technology,” he says. “That brings up how you integrate between the newer technology and the older. Since you’re not retiring the legacy system you are still going to have the thought five years from now whether you should replace it and how you should replace it.”

Upgraded technology also brings up the question of a carrier’s workforce.

“Younger people don’t necessarily want to learn older technology—they want to use cutting edge technology,” he says. “Your workforce for that legacy technology is diminishing.”

When asked what keeps him up at night, Correa explains he worries about how to keep up with the innovation while remaining secure.

“Right now the cloud is abuzz, but I think everyone in the insurance industry is tip-toeing into it because of the concerns of security,” he says. “The alignment of business and IT toward a common goal is always something on my mind. The unknown—what regulatory things are going to change that will impact the industry and the IT solutions—are other key issues.”

Besides, Correa jokes, “I only sleep four hours a night.” 

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2010 Insurance IT All-Stars

Doug Allen
Vice President and Director of IT, State Auto Insurance

Mike Anselmo
Senior Vice President and CIO, Narragansett Bay Insurance

Brian O’Connell
Senior Vice President and CIO, The Hartford Financial Services Group

Greg Ricker
CIO, Strickland Insurance Group

Wayne Umland
Executive Vice President and CIO Glatfelter Insurance Group

2009 Insurance IT All-Stars

Lisa Ward
Director of Customer Experience, Esurance

Chris Gay
CEO, MileMeter Insurance

Kendall Blythe
Vice President of Enterprise Business and Technology Services, Tokio Marine

Mark Hansen
CIO, Horace Mann

Bob Eshelbrenner
Vice President and CIO, Hastings Mutual

2008 Insurance IT All-Stars

Ray Voelker
CIO, Progressive Insurance

Jim Knight
CIO, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies

Michael Kim
Chief Technology Officer, The Hartford

Akhil Tripathi
Senior Vice President and CIO, Harleysville Insurance

Mike Sciolé
CIO, IFG Companies

Steve Boyd
CIO, Arrowhead Insurance

2007 Insurance IT All-Stars

Srinivas Koushik
CIO, Nationwide

Jeff Fabry
CIO, Island Insurance Company

Darby O’Neill
Vice President of IT, Princeton Insurance

Darcy Cypher
Vice President of Information Systems, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan

Neal Ruffalo
CIO, ACUITY

Ursula Foley
CIO, XL Capital

(Companies and positions at the time they were selected Insurance IT All-Stars.

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