'No' doesn't stop Vertafore's CTO

'No' doesn't stop Vertafore's CTO | Insurance Business America

'No' doesn't stop Vertafore's CTO

Here’s a particular phrase that Liz Nguyen does not like to hear: “Nope, we can’t do that.”

As chief technology officer at insurance software company Vertafore, she chooses to instead focus on solving problems. To her, there’s no other option.

“There’s always a solve, right? It may be a hard solve, or it can be an easy solve, or it can be a solve we haven’t found yet,” Nguyen (pictured) explained. “We cannot say, ‘Oh, well, that’s the way we’ve always done things,’ or ‘we just can’t solve it that way’ … That’s not the right attitude.”

Nguyen (pronounced “Winn”) has been CTO at Vertafore since October 2021, after three years at the company, initially in the role of VP, Development. Based in Denver, CO, Vertafore employs just under 2,100 people around the globe with a focus on insurance software, products and services for independent insurance agencies, brokers, MGAs and carriers. It has been around for more than 50 years, straddling the timeline from old-school software to today’s age of technology streamlining, machine learning and all things insurtech.

Nguyen said that Vertafore has more than adapted to the changing technology needs of its customers, both older and newer.

“We’ve got the leverage of having older products that have been around a really long time,” she said. “But we’re also innovating,”

Along those lines, Nguyen said, many of her top priorities and projects right now focus on modernizing workflows. She noted older customers who have used Vertafore products for long periods were introduced to certain technologies, but newer users are coming in seeking changes. She helps accommodate both.

“We’re [pursuing] that transition of modernizing what we had before in terms of what the industry was looking for back then, to what the industry is looking for now, and finding that bridge of how we take our solutions and modernize [them] toward where we want to be,” Nguyen said. “We’re modernizing our [user experience]. We’re modernizing our back end. We’re modernizing how we are, bringing our solutions together so that our workflows are more streamlined.”

Some of that breaks down to basic functions, she said, such as reducing the number of clicks needed for specific tasks, and “getting a lot of data together” to provide for clients in ways that they need.

Nguyen argues that she and the company are innovating as much as insurtechs, trying to figure out solutions and solving problems raised by industry demands and trends.

“We are looking at what customers are looking for,” she said.

Solving problems

Nguyen's role as CTO focuses on operations, providing services for customers but also delivering on strategic technology initiatives that suit their needs. On the employee side, it is about giving them the tools they need to maximize products and services that customers require.

“I work with my teams daily, both on the development side to talk about what we are building, [and] what we are delivering … talking about working with the product” and the company’s technology strategic roadmap, she said.

Her enthusiasm is obvious as Nguyen explains her job and her goals at Vertafore.

“I’m very passionate about my people and also the work,” she said. “I have worked with the customers now a lot more so in my role and they’ve been really fantastic,” Nguyen explained. “They’ve given me a different perspective … and that helps craft what I am looking for in terms of strategically what I want to make sure my teams are focused on.”

When asked where her enthusiasm comes from, Nguyen said she is inspired by solving problems.

“The thing that motivates me in everything that I do is that I am solving a problem for someone,” Nguyen said. If “I understand what the problem is, I can dissect it. I can get into the nitty gritty of it with [customers] and then be like, ‘OK, this is what you’re looking for … I like solving problems because it gives me satisfaction that I’ve helped someone.”

For her, technology never trumps people.

“I’m not doing technology for technology’s sake [and] I don’t do process for process’ sake,” Nguyen explained. “What it comes down to is what the problems [are] that we are trying to solve.”

She added that “technology should be the tool” to get there.