How have you used data and analytics to successfully innovate?
Verisk has an amazing universe of data available and a fantastic group of data scientists. It really would be a waste to not use these amazing resources. We track our customers’ usage, as well as evaluate order patterns and specific characteristics to allow us to make decisions on product enhancements and strategy.
We also use analytics to build products and allow them [our customers] to understand the data better. Last year, we used predictive analytics to model over 12 million commercial building reports and provide some key risk characteristics that allow our users to increase their underwriting position.
The foundation for this initiative was four million-plus properties with data gathered in the field by our own experienced survey professionals. Leveraging these verified on-site reports, experienced data scientists enhanced and expanded the availability of data for all commercial properties in the U.S.
How does your leadership style empower your teams?
How I empower my team is by asking questions that will help them see the problems and issues from different perspectives. I want them to come up with their own ideas and answers to address challenges and problems. I do try to provide a structured approach to innovation, but the content, the ideas, and the process must come from them.
What are three things you look for when hiring?
Three things I look for when hiring are accountability, curiosity, and good communication.
Accountability is key. I want to make sure my team has people that own their products and are accountable for their path. I want them to feel inspired by what they do.
Curiosity. There's absolutely no innovation without curiosity: asking questions and digging deeper to understand the real root of the problem, feeling comfortable with knowing that they don't know everything and they don't have all the answers, and looking to find out what is it that they don't know that they don't know.
And finally, good communication. Being curious and creative is not enough. The innovation and creation process is a very complex team effort, and you must be able to communicate your ideas and thought process to all the different groups that are involved. For example, to management, to obtain resources; to IT and development, to successfully relate requirements and vision; to marketing and sales, to define the value prop and communicate it to the end-user.
What advice can you share on starting a career?
My advice on starting a career would be to be open-minded and curious. At that stage in everyone's lives, we really don't know what working is about. I remember when I started working, I didn't want to work in insurance. I thought there was no room for an engineer within this world. And the reality was I didn't really know how varied the industry can be and how exciting and fulfilling it would become for me.