Larissa Tosch, Glat­fel­ter

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Danni San­tana

Ajob fair brought Larissa Tosch on board at Glat­fel­ter In­sur­ance Group as a COBOL de­vel­oper in 1999, as the car­rier re­cruited pro­gram­mers to ready its core sys­tems for Y2K. Al­most two decades later, she serves as CIO and VP of IT for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, help­ing busi­ness lead­ers em­brace the added value tech­nol­ogy can bring to day-to-day op­er­a­tions.

“Our re­la­tion­ship is an al­liance. We’re go­ing to suc­ceed or fail to­gether,” says Tosch. “They don’t like be­ing told how to do busi­ness, and right­fully so. But if we don’t lever­age tech­nol­ogy, we po­ten­tially limit busi­ness ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

Tosch has been com­mit­ted to mak­ing a leaner IT or­ga­ni­za­tion since her as­cen­sion to her cur­rent role, work­ing to stream­line Glat­fel­ter’s in­fra­struc­ture, se­cu­rity, data and ap­pli­ca­tions. She led the con­ver­sion of Glat­fel­ter’s phys­i­cal data servers to vir­tual as one of her first ma­jor projects, in part­ner­ship with the com­pany’s in­fra­struc­ture leader. The com­pany ended up re­duc­ing the size of its data cen­ter by half, re­sult­ing in lower costs as­so­ci­ated with cool­ing servers and elec­tric­ity. It also helped the IT depart­ment come in 4% un­der bud­get in the last fis­cal year.

In ad­di­tion, Tosch’s work on in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity has re­duced se­cu­rity in­ci­dents by a whop­ping 83%. Among her mul­ti­fac­eted work in this area are projects im­ple­ment­ing dual fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion, web­site fil­ter­ing, email link and at­tach­ment scan­ning, lat­eral de­tec­tion, net­work ac­cess con­trols, priv­i­leged threat anal­y­sis, and se­cu­rity aware­ness train­ing ses­sions for all em­ploy­ees.

But it’s her ex­per­tise in core sys­tems mod­ern­iza­tion that’s de­fined her ca­reer. Tosch has over­seen sev­eral ma­jor core re­vamps in the past decade — even be­fore she was for­mally made CIO.

She led the re­place­ment of Glat­fel­ter’s pol­icy ad­min­is­tra­tion and billing sys­tems with In­surity as di­rec­tor of ap­pli­ca­tions in 2005 — be­fore up­dat­ing the billing soft­ware again four years later. Glat­fel­ter has sim­i­lar plans to redo its pol­icy soft­ware in the com­ing months. The com­pany also is cur­rently in the mid­dle of a claims project, ex­pected to con­clude early next year.

Tosch be­lieves trans­parency is the key to in­ter­nal staff work­ing to­gether to mod­ern­ize op­er­a­tions. As a mem­ber of Glat­fel­ter’s ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship team, Tosch par­tic­i­pates in the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pany’s busi­ness strat­egy and is tasked with en­sur­ing the IT in­fra­struc­ture falls in line with set ob­jec­tives. Be­fore ev­ery de­ploy­ment, her team meets with busi­ness lead­ers to ex­plain the an­tic­i­pated im­pacts on in­di­vid­ual units.

“The busi­ness knowl­edge I’ve gained is some­what un­usual for a tech­nol­o­gist,” she says. “I’ve pushed the rest of my peo­ple to learn about the busi­ness as well.”

MAK­ING IT EASY

Other up­com­ing projects for Tosch and her team of 74 in­clude the im­ple­men­ta­tion of imag­ing soft­ware in claims, adding pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics to un­der­writ­ing and in­tro­duc­ing ba­sic lev­els of au­to­ma­tion for straight-through pro­cess­ing.

“It won’t be ‘no touch,’ but we want to make it [less man­ual],” says Tosch. “We have a col­lec­tive goal to im­prove ease of do­ing busi­ness for agents, by mak­ing our in­ter­nal op­er­a­tions more ef­fi­cient.”

When the 19-year in­dus­try vet­eran is not run­ning Glat­fel­ter’s tech­nol­ogy en­vi­ron­ment, she is men­tor­ing young minds in­side the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

A York Col­lege of Penn­syl­va­nia grad­u­ate, Tosch also par­tic­i­pates in the Penn­syl­va­nia Dis­tin­guished Young Women pro­gram, which of­fers schol­ar­ships to fe­male col­lege stu­dents.

“I don’t think that strength comes from what you can do. Strength comes from do­ing things you thought you couldn’t,” she says when asked what she tells young peo­ple she works with. Re­flect­ing on her ef­forts to learn the busi­ness side of in­sur­ance, she adds: “For tech­nol­o­gists, that means we must al­ways chal­lenge what we thought im­pos­si­ble.”

Larissa Tosch CIO and VP of IT, Glat­fel­ter In­sur­ance Group

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