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April 1, 2021

Covéa Insurance CIO’s mantra ‘to get everyone to talk more’

Graeme Howard, chief technology and information officer at Covéa Insurance, discussed how technology underpins community at Tech Monitor Live.

By Edward Qualtrough

Making sure technology underpinned a sense of community among employees was one of Covéa Insurance CIO Graeme Howard’s top priorities during the pandemic.

Speaking at the first Tech Monitor Live event, which was supported by headline sponsors Slack, Howard discussed Covéa Insurance’s digital transformation initiatives, and the role of technology and leadership as part of the post-pandemic recovery phase at the insurance company, owned by French mutual Covéa.

[View Tech Monitor Live sessions on-demand]


“We’re really on a transformational journey, using technology to challenge the insurance market – disrupt insurance,” Howard said. “So rather than just moving off lots of our legacy insurance platforms to on another new monolithic legacy platform, we are building our own with microservices architecture.”

Howard, who joined as chief technology and information officer in February 2019 and is part of the executive leadership team, said that Covéa’s people and culture had been one of the organisation’s core strengths heading into the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020.

While projects were in flight to enhance the technology of its UK offices, Howard said that there was a complete turnaround in perspective to enable all of its 2,000 staff to work from anywhere on anything, underpinned by a suite of collaboration tools.

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“Culture certainly trumps everything else,” he said. “We’ve been using lots of collaboration tools; we’re heavy users of Slack and Microsoft Teams.

“It is all around that challenge of replacing one-to-one and one-to-many types of conversations. Getting people to talk more has probably been our biggest mantra, and making sure there is lots of technology that supports that community feel.”

Getting people to talk more has probably been our biggest mantra, and making sure there is lots of technology that supports that community feel.

Because of the pandemic and complications brought about by M&A activity, Howard said that some of the more fundamental programmes like network consolidation and improving employee engagement in Office 365 have come back on the agenda. This has enabled the technology leader and his team to push hard on a ‘zero trust‘ strategy – in which nothing from inside or outside an organisation’s perimeters is automatically trusted – to realise the idea of being able to work anywhere from anything.

Howard also shared some of his leadership lessons from the pandemic, and why innovations in data will have the biggest impact on the insurance sector. He was speaking alongside SGN director of IT & innovation, Andrew Quail, Vertical Aerospace CIO Madhu Bhabuta and John Quinn, the executive director of technology, digital, data and delivery at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency at Tech Monitor Live: Technology and leadership in the post-pandemic recovery.

[Watch: Tech Monitor Live sessions on-demand]

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