Insurance industry’s great digital acceleration story is powered by early talent

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Gore Mutual building exterior view

By: Krista Henry

Gore Mutual Insurance Company achieved one of the biggest digital transformations the Canadian insurance industry has seen in years.
Their secret? Finding the right talent. 

Jas Dhindsa headshot
Jas Dhindsa
Chief technology & data officer at Gore Mutual

Amidst a global pandemic, the company transformed their operating model and implemented new technology platforms through a strategy called Next Horizon. This strategy moved the company from manual processes to digitization, creating improvements in customer service, response times, pricing and risk management. Talent has been central to this success.

“We invested in our in-house talent to grow them. Where we had gaps, we went to the industry to source the best talent and partners,” says Jas Dhindsa, chief technology and data officer at Gore Mutual. “We looked to various schools including universities like Waterloo to bring in strong talent through a co-op program.”

Attracting the right tech and data talent was not easy for the 182-year-old, mid-size insurance company. According to Dhindsa, the tech talent space during the pandemic was competitive. “There are no limitations of geography anymore. It was a surprise for us struggling with losing talent because there’s just so much competition for hot skills,” he says.


Next gen tech skills

These skills are easily mastered by the digital talent that is Generation Z, those born between 1997-2014. This includes tech expertise in cloud computing, data and analytics, data modelling, business analysis, cybersecurity, guidewire and front-end development.

“We can be even more successful with a strong co-op program. It's a talent pipeline that is fundamental. We want to have strong talent at all levels, to retain and grow them in our ranks,” says Dhindsa.

“Co-op students are the perfect ingredient to fill the pipeline in different areas. The University of Waterloo is one of the greatest technology schools that expose their students to the newest trends and cutting-edge curriculum.”

- Jas Dhindsa, chief technology & data officer at Gore Mutual

Another benefit of hiring co-op students according to Dhindsa is that they will be future customers that shape product experiences and solutions of the future. “They are the customer segment that can tell us more than any user study can,” he adds.

Students have been hired for roles like data scientist co-op, associate cloud engineering, actuarial analyst, information security, IT operations, among others.

Insurance tech is catching up

Regarded as a very traditional field, Dhindsa sees the insurance industry catching up in technical transformation and innovation rapidly. “This creates a lot of opportunities. The industry has traditionally relied on very manual business workflows and legacy technology solutions. The level of digital transformation coming in insurance is immense,” he says. Here are some of the trends he believes the insurance industry can expect that students can help:

1. Adapting to autonomous tech

“There's going to be a strong shift towards insurance products which complements autonomous homes, autonomous cars and autonomous appliances. Insurance products need to compliment a car that drives itself and not only a person that drives the car. Smart homes are changing how we live and manage our daily lives by detecting and preventing water leaks, fires and theft.”

2. Predicting the effects of climate change

“Global climate change is a phenomenon we need to better understand so that we can better predict those natural disasters and create insurance products/services which help keep our customers safe and provide effective assistance when they need us most.”

3. Adjusting to life and health tech

“If you look at the speed of innovation in smart mobile devices, they can on-demand monitor many aspects of your health such as oxygen levels, blood pressure and heart rate. The ability to provide very personalized insurance products based on a customer's health status will be important, but more importantly, also guide our customers to live a healthier lifestyle. It's going to be driven by technology and data analytics.”

Gore Mutual plans to tackle these trends with a people-focused mindset recruiting the best talent, like students, to help deliver industry-leading, human-centric, data-driven technology solutions.

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