Last week several senior insurance leaders lent their insights into what makes a role that balances insurance and technology so fulfilling, a conversation that touched on everything from the constant evolution of the tech space to its capacity to solve cross-industry problems. However, there is still a pressing need to ensure a strong and varied pipeline of talent into the innovation sphere.
Shedding light on whether enough is being done when it comes to crafting that pipeline and on if the future looks bright, particularly for young women considering tech careers, Caroline Bedford (pictured above), CEO of EDII noted that she is thoroughly optimistic. Back in the day, she said, technology was always seen as being strictly logical and practical and centred around engineering and STEM-based subjects that young women weren’t necessarily encouraged to pursue at an advanced level.
“Firstly, that’s changing and young women are [increasingly] choosing to go into more technical, previously male-dominated skills. But secondly, people have definitely come around to the idea that tech is the tool, it’s not the result. The phrase is truer now more than ever, but your tech strategy is your business strategy and you can no longer separate the two.
“Women are very strategic, and of course that’s not just women, but it’s about people who have got that nuance and that ability to understand applicability. That’s why I see more women coming to the fore, because they’re interested in knowing why and knowing what the result will be. And we can always bring somebody else in to do the ‘how’.”
Offering her perspective, chief digital officer at Markel Carla Owens (pictured just above) highlighted that she too is confident about the future as few people would look at a career opportunity these days without considering the tech component it includes. Take teaching, for example, she said, a traditional career but since COVID anyone considering a teaching career is going to think about how they will have to adjust their personal style to allow them to educate in both an in-person and a virtual environment.
“Think about it but don’t just be curious about it,” she said. “If you see an opportunity for a tech lien in a particular industry that you’re looking at then embrace that and try to learn more about it and how you can actually potentially alter your career, or distinguish yourself, or make yourself unique by having a skill set that may be different from what was once traditional.”
Following on from this, BT’s director of insurance, wealth management and financial services, Alexandra Foster (pictured below) noted that, within the tech industry, there is a growing skills gap and it has never been more important to encourage young women to study STEM. This, she said, will ensure that women have a say in technological innovation and in shaping the future of society.
“There is strong intersectionality between tech and every other industry, and I believe we have an obligation to show women that there are great opportunities in tech where they can make a difference,” she said. “With the growing number of opportunities available, the future is bright for young women considering careers in tech, and, at BT, we actively engage with young women through initiatives such as our Tech Skills for Tomorrow and Code First Girls programmes, which provides free coding courses for women in the UK with the aim of closing the skills gap and engaging women in coding.”
Looking to the future, Owens said that she sees a lot of opportunity for women, particularly when you consider the flexibility that is going to exist within tech jobs that simply didn’t exist pre-COVID. There’s going to be enhanced opportunities to have more balance with regards to how everybody works, she said, which is going to be beneficial to everyone. This, in turn, is likely to start attracting more talent into the tech space.
Owens highlighted that people generally seem to be increasingly valuing the traits of being empathetic, strategic and curious about what they do. The interesting thing will be how that people element is translated, she said, and, between that curiosity element and the enhanced tech lien to everyday jobs, she believes more people than ever will be attracted to moving into a tech role.
“I do think we’ve made a lot of great headway in promoting technology,” she said, “I think we could do a better job in promoting insurance. I’m passionate about it but I’m also someone who fell into it. And the first things people think about are not necessarily the best things and they certainly [don’t associate insurance] with tech. So, promoting those types of opportunities within industries that historically have not had a lean towards technology is, I think, really part of our job in moving the industry forward.”