Alpa Pa­tel, XL Group

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Danni San­tana

Alpa Pa­tel didn’t ex­pect to be­come an in­sur­ance tech­nol­o­gist. “Grow­ing up, I was strongly led to be­lieve that all In­dian kids be­came doc­tors, lawyers or en­gi­neers,” she says. “I was good enough in math and science that I be­came a chem­i­cal en­gi­neer.”

But due to a down­turn in that in­dus­try, Pa­tel took the op­por­tu­nity to work at An­der­sen, now called Ac­cen­ture, in 1988, as an in­sur­ance con­sul­tant. Af­ter stints there and at John Han­cock, The Hart­ford and One Bea­con, Pa­tel landed at XL Group in May 2011 as SVP and CIO of global ser­vices. In that role, she im­ple­mented a new un­der­writ­ing plat­form for the car­rier, while also cut­ting in­fra­struc­ture costs by about 20%.

“You have pre­con­ceived no­tions of what in­sur­ance clients will be like as a con­sul­tant,” she says. “But once you are a client, you re­al­ize how much more re­spon­si­bil­ity you have. I had a very nar­row per­spec­tive in con­sult­ing and did not know what broad re­ally meant un­til I came into the in­dus­try.”

Even­tu­ally, Pa­tel was pro­moted to head of mid­dle of­fice, Amer­i­cas for XL Catlin, a ti­tle she took on in the spring of 2016, about a year af­ter the merger of XL Group and Catlin that cre­ated the com­bined or­ga­ni­za­tion. She and her team of ap­prox­i­mately 300 em­ploy­ees sup­port the Amer­i­cas un­der­writ­ing op­er­a­tions; she also is re­spon­si­ble for the pro­vi­sion of IT and shared ser­vices for the re­gion. The role is Pa­tel’s first where she del­e­gates tasks IT fo­cuses on, rather than fix­ing prob­lems her­self.

“My goal was to bring my tech­nol­ogy back­ground to op­er­a­tions so that I could add value to [XL Catlin’s] busi­nesses in a dif­fer­ent and po­ten­tially broader way,” she says.

OP­ER­A­TIONS UP­GRADE

XL Catlin is cur­rently in the midst of in­sti­tut­ing a new tar­get model for in­sur­ance op­er­a­tions. The model will sup­port un­der­writ­ing across all re­gions af­ter the in­te­gra­tion of XL Group and Catlin. As head of mid­dle of­fice, Amer­i­cas, Pa­tel is re­spon­si­ble for de­sign­ing a cost ef­fec­tive, con­sumer-fac­ing model for the U.S., Canada, Ber­muda and Latin Amer­ica.

Un­der her lead­er­ship, XL Catlin Amer­i­cas has been fur­ther lever­ag­ing shared ser­vices. More than half of pol­icy sup­port ser­vices are pro­vided by XL Catlin staff in low cost lo­ca­tions. One con­stant is her abil­ity to keep XL Catlin’s un­der­writ­ing, prod­uct and reg­u­la­tory ta­lent to­gether in the Amer­i­cas to bet­ter serve cus­tomers.

There was some skep­ti­cism from busi­ness lead­ers in im­ple­ment­ing a new model, Pa­tel notes.

“We were clear in our com­mu­ni­ca­tions to busi­ness lead­ers: this is not in­tended to be one size fits all,” she says. “My ob­jec­tive was to com­mu­ni­cate the tar­get and gain busi­ness buy-in through ne­go­ti­at­ing tim­ing and scope rel­a­tive to busi­ness value, while main­tain­ing the prin­ci­ples of the tar­get.”

XL Catlin’s tar­get op­er­at­ing model project should end by the mid­dle of 2018, with the bulk of the work be­ing done through the re­main­der of the year.

Pa­tel’s other on­go­ing projects are fo­cused on the in­surer’s over­all strat­egy to im­ple­ment more emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies. Her team is eye­ing new ca­pa­bil­i­ties in ro­bot­ics and the In­ter­net of Things that will quickly add busi­ness value. Proofs of con­cept are un­der­way.

The Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut grad­u­ate also men­tors four lead­ers within the in­surer’s shared ser­vices cen­ter in In­dia and Poland. She co-leads XL Catlin’s Women of World pro­gram in Hart­ford, which is part of XL Catlin’s en­ter­prise-wide Di­ver­sity & In­clu­sion pro­gram.

“I think [in­tern­ships] are a great way to bring in young peo­ple that may ma­jor in a field where they may not see the ap­pli­ca­bil­ity of their ed­u­ca­tion to the in­sur­ance in­dus­try,” she says. “They wit­ness the in­no­va­tion, the busi­ness model and va­ri­ety of skills needed to make in­sur­ance work.”

Alpa Pa­tel Head of Mid­dle Of­fice, Amer­i­cas for XL Catlin, XL Group

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