Veronica Grigg (pictured) was appointed as Asia president for claims management giant Crawford & Company in April, and it came at a time of great upheaval. The COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding across the world, while the insurance industry was still continuing to come to terms with the need for diversity in its ranks.
Insurance Business recently caught up with Grigg to talk about her insurance journey, the importance of diversity in the industry, and her plans heading up Crawford & Company in Asia.
Tell us about the lead-up to your appointment as Asia president for Crawford.
There is a market saying – “Join insurance, see the world” – and my career really has been like that. Having started out in life insurance, I moved into banking, and then became a consultant with KPMG.
Eventually, I moved back into general insurance when I joined QBE, spending 15 years working all around the world, ending in New York as head of global distribution. After QBE, I went into reinsurance at Lloyd’s – another part of the insurance value chain and another new perspective – this time with a focus on Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
I then learned of a possible role at Crawford. Working for a large claims management company interested me because claims is the sharp end of insurance – dealing with customers. It’s all about how you represent the brand of your partners as well as the Crawford brand.
It has been a few months since you took the job. How is it going so far?
It’s certainly been an unusual on-boarding for a new president – I was only in the office for one day before Singapore went into quarantine! I’ve often held remote or global roles, interacting with stakeholders from all over the world in different countries and time zones, and as a consultant you have to work out how to leverage your time. However, I’ve never seen anything like the welcome I was given at Crawford. People were so open to improving the way we communicate and to becoming ‘One Asia’ rather than working independently.
Despite the challenges, it’s been a rewarding five months. The Crawford group’s responsiveness to COVID-19 has been outstanding. We’ve had to change how we work and handle whatever has been thrown at us, including responding to CAT losses that happened during the pandemic.
Crawford gave everybody the ability to work remotely regardless of their role. In Asia, that’s not easy. We’re in 10 countries across Asia with 500 employees, but we managed to move very quickly. Each country has a different culture and economy, is at a different stage of development, and has different requirements in terms of claim service. One of the first things we’ve done is conduct inaugural planning for each country, asking ourselves where we want to operate, and how we are going to succeed for our clients in each of these markets.
What can you say about the insurance industry’s move towards more diversity, with more women holding leadership roles?
Diversity is extremely important to me. I saw it in action at Crawford, which was why I joined. We want to be part of the discussion around diversity and inclusion and we want to be known for it because diversity is at the heart of what Asia is.
Any successful business needs diversity of thought, views and perspectives. We also have to be reflective of our client base and represent the different cultures in which we operate, which is why developing local leaders is a focus for me. I recognize that there are some very strong candidates locally and I want our countries led by local people where possible.
The insurance industry is still primarily led by men and that’s always been a challenge for me in my career, but I’ve never let it bother me because I think it’s about who has the skills for the job. Crawford does diversity really well and there are a number of women leaders across the Crawford group. They’re strong, fearless and have big personalities. We find each other and help each other.
The good news is that women are embraced in Asian economies. Most finance graduates are women, childcare is affordable and women are encouraged to have careers outside the home. Culturally, it is very acceptable for women to hold senior roles. That’s why I came to Asia – it suited me as a young mother to come here with my family and there are opportunities for women here.
What’s in store for Crawford in Asia?
The challenge for me is to strengthen the ‘One Crawford’ concept here in Asia and to bring some of the experience and skillsets we have outside of Asia into this market. Crawford, very excitingly, isn’t just a loss adjusting company – we have a broad suite of capabilities from Crawford Claims Solutions (CCS) through to Global Technical Services (GTS), Crawford’s TPA operation, Broadspire, the Contractor Connection and WeGoLook networks, and virtual claims solutions.
So far, Asia has primarily focused on GTS and CCS, but we are intent on broadening out beyond that while leveraging the great base we’ve built to meet the needs of both our global and local customers. We’re in the early stages of making strategic investments in markets such as Japan, where we are bringing in a new team. We see opportunities in North Asia and Japan will play a critical role for us. We are also making sure we leverage the strengths we’ve got in core markets like Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
We’re also focusing on succession planning in Asia. I want to give people the chance to move up through the business. We’ve already made a couple of key appointments from within, and I can’t wait to nominate some people from Asia for Crawford’s Leadership Development Program.
We want to listen to our customers, so we recently conducted our first net promotor score (NPS) to understand what is expected of us as a partner and how we can do things differently. I’d like Crawford to be seen as dynamic, diverse, and interested.