Em­brac­ing Op­por­tu­nity

Digital Insurance - - COVER STORY - By Nathan Go­lia

The in­creased fo­cus on dig­i­tal­iza­tion in in­sur­ance means tal­ented tech­nol­o­gists have lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to ap­ply their in­no­va­tions. That’s some­thing that makes Esurance such a great t for Nan­dini Easwar, the com­pany’s di­rec­tor of qual­ity as­sur­ance and IT com­pli­ance.

“The changes and the in­no­va­tion in this in­dus­try are re­ally ground­break­ing,” she says. “It’s re­ally been very at­trac­tive to me to ride along with that and stay ahead of the curve.”

Easwar’s en­try into the in­sur­ance in­dus­try fol­lows a fa­mil­iar pat­tern: She was work­ing in nan­cial ser­vices in her home town of Philadel­phia, for the Susque­hanna In­ter­na­tional Group in­vest­ing rm. She even­tu­ally left that job to re­lo­cate to the Bay Area, where she worked in hu­man re­sources tech­nolo y. In 2006, she joined Esurance be­cause she wanted to re­turn to the nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor.

Esurance’s unique po­si­tion both as an in­sur­ance car­rier, and as one of the Val­ley’s many dot-com com­pa­nies, made it a lead­ing in­di­ca­tor of the com­ing fo­cus on changing the way in­sur­ance is sold to re ect the e-com­merce age.

“Just un­til a few a years ago, when you thought of in­sur­ance, you thought of a lot of pa­per­work,” she says. “Esurance has been a pi­o­neer on that front in how we’ve switched from tra­di­tion­ally buy­ing from an agent and [do­ing] it all on­line.”

Over her time with the com­pany, Easwar has made many con­tri­bu­tions to that trans­for­ma­tion. Af­ter Esurance was ac­quired by All­state in 2011, the com­pany bene ted from an in­fu­sion of cash — but pres­sure mounted to de­liver re­sults. In or­der to im­prove speed to mar­ket for new home­own­ers and renters lines of busi­ness that All­state wanted Esurance to o er, Easwar de­vel­oped a “par­al­lel re­leases” tech­nique to lever­age work that was be­ing done across projects more e ciently.

“We had to pre­cede the launches by build­ing out the core apps to be able to sup­port that kind of prod­uct line,” she ex­plains. “The idea was to ‘split it and go for­ward.”

She gave the busi­ness units and the larger IT or­ga­ni­za­tion sev­eral ve­hi­cles to launch projects, al­low­ing them to be nim­ble by break­ing them down into smaller units for greater e ciency and qual­ity.

Easwar also de­vel­oped a test­ing cen­ter of ex­cel­lence, which is cred­ited with im­prov­ing the align­ment be­tween the busi­ness units and QA testers while re­duc­ing costs. She also is lead­ing the con­struc­tion of a new test au­toma­tion frame­work, with the goal of not only test­ing faster, but also help nav­i­gate the state-based in­sur­ance reg­u­la­tion sys­tem in an au­to­mated way, so that Esurance can get prod­ucts to mar­ket faster with­out hit­ting lo­cal­ized snags.

Easwar is a cham­pion of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment within Esurance. She is a found­ing mem­ber of the com­pany’s Women’s In­no­va­tive Net­work em­ployee re­source group, but notes that its char­ter is to help women and men pre­pare for their jobs and com­pete in the work­force.

“When you think about some­thing like re­turn to work, we want to help all as­so­ciates,” she says. Though long ab­sences are gen­er­ally associated with preg­nancy and child­birth, “there are a lot of men who may be out for leave of ab­sence or surgery, and it can be di cult for them too.”

To­day, the Women’s In­no­va­tive Net­work has sev­eral chap­ters across Esurance’s many lo­cal o ces. Since the All­state ac­qui­si­tion, the par­ent com­pany has been “very sup­port­ive” of the net­work’s e orts.

“All­state also has a re­source group to help out with em­ployee de­vel­op­ment, that’s a very sim­i­lar model to ours,” she says.” Easwar also cites “Six De­grees of Esurance,” a “TED Talk-style” se­ries, as fos­ter­ing uni cation within the com­pany.

“A few ex­ec­u­tives have par­tic­i­pated in cre­at­ing con­tent about our strate­gies,” she ex­plains. “It fos­ters a sense of in­clu­sion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Nan­dini Easwar, Di­rec­tor, QA and IT Com­pli­ance, Esurance

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