From the ground up

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Nathan Go­lia

An abil­ity to find ways to un­lock hid­den value and do more with less is a hall­mark of Marissa Buck­ley's ca­reer. In her po­si­tion as VP of mar­ket­ing and brand ex­pe­ri­ence for Se­cu­rity First In­sur­ance, a Florida-based writer of home­own­ers and renters in­sur­ance, Buck­ley has formed the dig­i­tal al­liances and built the staff needed to op­er­ate a next-gen­er­a­tion in­sur­ance com­pany in a chal­leng­ing mar­ket. “My po­si­tion is about in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple,” she says. “In terms of brand ex­pe­ri­ence and mar­ket­ing, that en­tails in­ter­ac­tions dig­i­tally and in-per­son with cus­tomers. But it's also defin­ing our cul­ture from a work­place stand­point, and learn­ing and de­vel­op­ing that has been hugely chal­leng­ing, but in a good way.” Buck­ley joined Se­cu­rity First in 2008, when the com­pany only had 25 em­ploy­ees. To­day, it has 350, and she has been cen­tral to man­ag­ing that growth and en­abling the ad­di­tional re­sources to bet­ter serve the com­pany's cus­tomers. That in­cludes man­age­ment of en­ter­prise projects – Buck­ley was a key col­lab­o­ra­tor in the com­pany's core sys­tems mi­gra­tion, which pro­vided the back­bone for dig­i­tal distri­bu­tion (10% of new busi­ness) and more than dou­bled the amount of cus­tomers us­ing on­line pay­ments. “We have a im­per­a­tive that says we have a user ex­pe­ri­ence com­po­nent to al­most ev­ery prod­uct,” she ex­plains. “It made it a nat­u­ral fit for us [the mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion] to col­lab­o­rate and over­see the user ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of new sys­tems.” Her role isn't su­per­fi­cial. Buck­ley helped drive the com­pany's con­ver­sion to Agile de­vel­op­ment as a way of pre­serv­ing its nim­ble startup ori­gins. “The com­pany bal­ances not hav­ing too much struc­ture with be­ing flex­i­ble enough to change di­rec­tion when needed,” she says. “But we're go­ing through a huge growth stage, so we have to main­tain and lever­age that startup men­tal­ity and work a lit­tle dif­fer­ently based on a project's needs.” And she does more than just strat­egy, with a hands-on ap­proach that led to her, for ex­am­ple, writ­ing the script for and di­rect­ing the on­board­ing video that goes to all new cus­tomers. Buck­ley says that with rapid growth it's im­por­tant to de­fine the cul­tural pri­or­i­ties for the com­pany both for em­ploy­ees and pol­i­cy­hold­ers. “I love that part of it be­cause I'm in­te­grated with the team. We hired over 100 em­ploy­ees within one year, and we needed to de­fine our cul­ture and make more prom­i­nent who we are,” she says. “We al­ways work to con­tin­u­ally im­prove and pro­vide a great ex­pe­ri­ence. Now that we know that about our­selves.” New em­ployee de­vel­op­ment is a im­por­tant charge for Buck­ley. She co-spon­sored the com­pany's Lean In ini­tia­tive pro­vid­ing men and women in the or­ga­ni­za­tion with tech­niques to over­come bi­ases and in­crease emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, and holds one-on-one meet­ings with her di­rect re­ports when­ever pos­si­ble. “We needed to re­vamp the on­board­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for em­ploy­ees. Not just go over ben­e­fits, but go over the back­ground of who we are, and how we transformed as a com­pany,” she says. “I thought, ‘What's the best way I could com­mu­ni­cate to an em­ployee who has no in­sur­ance ex­pe­ri­ence,' we set the stage up front, that the in­dus­try is chang­ing rapidly and we have to evolve faster to stay ahead of com­pe­ti­tion. As long as it brings value to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, and it's some­thing that can be im­ple­mented, we do it.” Se­cu­rity First fo­cuses on re­cruit­ing out of college, Buck­ley says, but just in get­ting a young group to be­come pas­sion­ate about the pos­si­bil­i­ties in in­sur­ance. Most of the com­pany's man­age­ment team – Buck­ley in­cluded – is fe­male, and she sees it as an op­por­tu­nity to lead by ex­am­ple. “One of the things I think about more of­ten now is my daugh­ter as she starts her ca­reer, and I can tell her, ‘I've been through that sit­u­a­tion,'” she says. “When she asks, ‘What did you do?' I want to have a good an­swer for her.”

Marissa Buck­ley VP, Brand Ex­pe­ri­ence, Se­cu­rity First In­sur­ance

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