For the second straight year, Travelers has been selected by the CIO 100 Awards competition, which honors 100 organizations whose teams use technology in innovative ways to deliver business value. This year’s recognition is based on our enterprise-wide approach to digitizing key aspects of our business value chain, and for transforming the way we engage with customers, collaborate with partners and maintain our competitive advantage in risk expertise.
The highlights of our nomination included our powerful use of deep-learning AI models, the Business Owner Policy (BOP) 2.0 product offering, the Claim Virtual Visit tool and our Unified Chat platform capabilities.
We’re applying our models to streamline the underwriting process and improve customer service – especially in the aftermath of weather catastrophes. Our Roof Shape Classification AI Model is one of the latest examples of how we use aerial imagery, deep learning models and geospatial data in an AI-powered tool now used by our agents.
For BOP 2.0, we built a product enabled by a technology platform that includes an AI-powered recommendation engine and uses geospatial and third-party data to predict the business type based on information submitted by agents to properly classify and accurately price businesses up the underwriting process.
And we rolled out a major release for our Unified Chat platform in response to the escalating customer needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, retraining an AI-powered, self-service chatbot within 24 hours to better answer pandemic-related questions.
Mojgan Lefebvre, Travelers Chief Technology & Operations Officer, says, “It is a tremendous honor for Travelers to receive this year’s award two years running. It further demonstrates how an innovative mindset plus advanced analytics and AI can power exceptional customer experiences.”
Read the CIO 100 press release to learn more about the award and consider joining a winning team through a technology career at Travelers.
How long have you been with Travelers?
I’ve been fortunate to celebrate 35 years with the company. I started at Travelers as a Medical Case Manager, acting as liaison between our claim representatives, doctors, employers, and injured employees to ensure the proper medical care was in place to get them back to work.
What is your career background? How did you discover Travelers?
I have degrees in nursing and started my career in insurance. To be honest, I never knew that insurance companies hired nurses. It was 10 years after graduating that I was looking in the newspaper to see what was available for nurses if I moved back to the city I grew up in. I saw a Travelers job ad in the Sunday paper. It sounded interesting and I was one of four nurses hired for the claim department to pilot a new team to handle medical malpractice and Workers’ Compensation cases. The rest is history – 35 years later.
What has kept you with Travelers?
I found over the years there have been 2 key factors that have kept me here.
First, the opportunities. You truly own your own destiny. After my first role as a Medical Case Manager, I went on to serve as a Workers’ Compensation Claim Professional, an HR Manager, an Underwriting Development Program Director, a Talent Acquisition Manager, and more. In total, I’ve held 12 different positions across Underwriting, Claim, and Human Resources during my 35 years at the company.
Second, the people. Travelers encourages a diverse workforce of people who bring many ideas, skills and experiences to the table. This collaborative environment allows each of us to contribute to the success of Travelers while we grow and develop. It’s this and the leadership balance that helps drive the innovation which sets us apart.
Can you tell us about any stand-out moments you have had?
While I have had many unique and challenging opportunities over the years, one that I think about often is being given the once in a lifetime opportunity to create, develop and run the Underwriting Development Program for 7 years. It afforded me the career satisfaction of bringing the next generation of underwriters into the insurance industry. It was deeply gratifying to see how Travelers’ leadership took a vested interest in the programs and kept in contact with many who completed the programs.
What would you tell someone who was thinking about exploring a career at Travelers?
The opportunities are endless. Remember, it won’t be easy, but you must start somewhere. This is just the first step on the stairwell, so don’t give up, and know that the best is yet to come!
By Hansford Johnson
Director, Human Resources
Enterprise Diverse Talent Sourcing & Engagement
Managing your career can be an arduous task, but a very necessary one. While managing one’s career is a priority, I find that many people will exhale after landing a job, settle into it and then stay in that job even after years of frustration or doubts about their career path. Who says you have to stop pursuing a “career” that is meaningful, gratifying and has some semblance of what you dreamed of or dressed up as during Career Day in elementary school?
There is something powerful about transferring what is in your head, what you dream about and what you envision, to what is on a piece of paper. A study done by Dominican University psychology professor, Dr. Gail Matthews, shows that those who write out their goals are 42% more likely to achieve their goals. You know what is even more powerful than writing down your goals? Following through with them. And it all starts with how you see and manage the 50 or so hours you spend working each week. I don’t have the exact answer because we are all uniquely different, but I hope these three principles can serve as maintenance or help you start managing you career – I call them The Three P’s of career navigation.
Passion is what gets you going. It is that “thing” you do until your brain hurts. It keeps you up at night, and then you wake up only to do it again. Steve Jobs famously said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” The best way to accomplish this is by starting with your passion. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of time trying to find it.
Now you are probably asking yourself, “How do I find it?” Again, I do not have a “one size fits all” answer, but you can start with these questions:
Often, we hear the words “passion” and “purpose” used synonymously. However, I like to think of passion as the catalyst and purpose as the totality. If passion is what gets you started, then purpose is what keeps you going. If we organize our life around our passion, we can turn our passion into our story, and then turn our story into something bigger – something that matters and is purposeful. The concept of purpose can be difficult, however here are some building blocks to figure it out:
The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” If passion is your “what” and purpose is your “why,” then preparation is your “how.”
However you define success, and whichever ladder you choose to climb, it’s inevitable that you will face some adversity and setbacks in your professional pursuits, but it should not be for a lack of preparation. Here are a few tools that have helped me along the way:
Put your career in the right perspective. Breaking your career plan down into small action steps will keep your focus on your passion and your goals. Your career is a journey with many inflection points. Put pen to paper, begin with an end in mind, and start by figuring out your what (Passion), why (Purpose) and how (Preparation).
Here are a few more resources to help you figure out your what, why and how:
Hansford Johnson is Director, Human Resources for Enterprise Diverse Talent Sourcing & Engagement Strategies. Hansford has over 15 years of experience in human capital management and higher education leadership. He serves as the diversity and inclusion subject matter expert focused on the execution of targeted enterprise-wide diverse talent sourcing strategies.
By Mojgan Lefebvre
EVP, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Travelers
This post is featured as an article on Mojgan Lefebvre’s LinkedIn profile page.
As a talented software engineer or data scientist, when you imagine your dream job, you may envision working in a thriving “startup” culture of innovation. You may look for a place where you can learn and work on a diverse set of technologies, from internet-connected devices and deep learning models to intelligent process automation, blockchain and machine learning.
Maybe insurance doesn’t immediately come to mind. But if you knew the extent of technology’s impact on the industry and the really cool work we do at Travelers in the Analytics and Tech organizations, you wouldn’t look further. I’ll share with you a few reasons why you should seriously consider a career in technology at Travelers, a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business.
As a new computer science graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1990, I couldn’t have predicted a career path leading to my current role. I’ve always been drawn to opportunities that balance the transformative benefits of technology in people’s lives with the practical business outcomes that enable companies to grow. I recognize that same spirit of purpose-driven career choices in many of our Travelers’ technologists today.
I entered the insurance industry in 2010, after working across Asia, Europe and the Americas in the fields of high-tech and health care. I was amazed at the level of investment that the IT organization was making and how heavily the industry relied on data, analytics, risk management and digital capabilities.
In 2018, I was drawn to Travelers’ storied reputation for constant innovation in the world of insurance – especially the way the more than 165-year-old insurer nurtures and supports an openness to change. We’re focused on continuously transforming the way we engage with customers and collaborate with partners while extending our competitive advantage in risk expertise.
This work spans all our major business lines and has made a tangible difference in how well we were able to respond to the pandemic. I am proud of the way our Travelers teams have risen to every challenge over the past year.
Last March, we pivoted to a remote work environment. Our goal was to keep our people safe without compromising the high-quality service we provide to our customers, agents and brokers. To do that, our Tech and Operations teams had to equip 30,000 employees with all the necessary tools. And they did it seamlessly – we didn’t miss a beat.
Our success was the result of sound business continuity planning and the investments we have made in processes, tools and technologies over the years.
For instance, our AI teams quickly spotted unanswered questions related to COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic. Our data science and engineering teams jumped on the opportunity to improve our AI algorithms to quickly recognize COVID-related questions. This ensured that we could improve the customer experience by answering questions more accurately through our chatbot. With the volume of increased queries, the AI models continued to learn and improve over time.
Another example is our expanded Claim Virtual Visit tools, which Travelers’ Claim organization built to help our professionals safely interact with customers, claimants and other third parties and virtually conduct property or auto inspections. We saw the use of these tools multiply during the pandemic. Our cross-functional agile teams also got the opportunity to continually adjust capabilities based on customer feedback.
Across the insurance value chain, Travelers is leveraging advanced technologies, such as geospatial and deep learning models to come swiftly to the aid of customers whose houses are damaged from wildfires or weather disasters. Such solutions not only create a positive experience for our customers but also keep our employees safe as they work with our claimants. These are just a few examples of how our technologists see their work making a difference in people’s lives.
None of the above can happen without the talented technology professionals who recognize the vast career opportunities the insurance industry has to offer. During the pandemic, Travelers hired and virtually onboarded more than 300 employees into our Tech organization, and we remain committed to recruiting great new talent. Our technologists and data experts will continue to play a key role in helping to automate and improve the experiences of our customers, agents and brokers throughout the insurance life cycle.
If what you’ve read sounds like the kind of place where your dream job could flourish, I invite you to discover your career under the umbrella.
How does a large company tackle complex business challenges in imaginative ways? One effective method is to tap into the creativity data-driven employees bring to the table, providing them development opportunities and generating outcomes to create the products that best serve our customers.
Bring on the friendly competition.
During the 2020 Virtual Predictive Modeling Competition, 75 companywide data scientists, data engineers and technology-oriented employees formed into 21 teams with one challenge: to develop a new model that helps our Claim organization more swiftly predict the severity of an accident at faster rates and improve payout predictions.
The eight-week competition gave participants the chance to work with new technologies and frameworks that deepened their skillsets and provided opportunities to collaborate across departments. The event was sponsored by Travelers Claim Business Intelligence and Analytics (CBIA) and Enterprise Data and Analytics (ED&A).
Teams relied on their knowledge of AWS cloud technology, graphics processing units, unstructured data sources and machine learning to analyze a range of information to develop and build their models.
According to the competition winners, reviewing data from customer interaction with claim handlers was paramount. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel, but our model predictions were sensible and could predict high severity claims with a high level of confidence,” said Murat Yasar, Analytics & Research, Business Insurance.
“I saw the competition as a great challenge. It was also a great way to network and share knowledge – which is really a precious opportunity, especially during the pandemic,” said Susan Ye, Data & Research, CBIA.
Travelers began these modeling competitions in 2016 with the goal of providing training opportunities around deep learning and image analytics. But the impact of the work goes far beyond training.
“The winning solution from the 2018 competition is still being used at Travelers – it’s like a Swiss army knife for data scientists,” said George Lee, who leads the Data Science team in ED&A’s AI Accelerator. “That’s our hope for this year’s winning solution.”
A career pause for family obligations, military commitments, or relocation can be challenging to overcome, even for the most qualified and experienced professional.
When faced with this very issue after two career breaks, Ginny Brzezinski found herself ready to reboot her career but was unsure how to do so, especially at the age of 52. Ginny reached out to her sister-in-law, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, founder of the women’s empowerment community, Know Your Value. The two dug deep into the topic and, in January 2020, published “Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success – At 40, 50, and Beyond.”
Crafting Your Comeback: An Interview with Ginny Brzezinski, moderated by Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute, was featured on the Wednesdays With Woodward Travelers Institute Webinar Series.
Joined by Comeback Careers co-author Mika Brzezinski and Ashley Wilson, creator of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Women Taking the Lead,” the team shared insights from their research and job market trends for professionals thinking about revaluating, reinventing, or relaunching their careers.
The three women shared a wealth of career advice to empower the job-seeker, even amidst a pandemic. Key points focused on personal assessments, updating social media accounts, reaching out to former colleagues to up your network game and adapting to the new norm – video meetings and interviews.
Watch the full webinar to learn more about Ginny and how her career and life experiences encouraged her to educate and inspire women and men looking to relaunch their careers.
Wednesdays With Woodward Travelers Institute Webinar Series interviews thought leaders about topics that impact us both personally and professionally. Travelers created the Travelers Institute to engage in public policy dialogue on issues relevant to the insurance market.
2020 CIO 100 Award
From a field of more than 400 nominations, Travelers made the 2020 CIO 100 Award honorees list for an innovation that is especially relevant today, the Wildfire Loss Detector (WLD), which uses high-resolution geospatial imagery and a deep-learning model to quickly identify properties that are total losses.
As a result of this tool, this year alone, Travelers has helped many of our customers in California and Oregon begin the recovery process before returning home following wildfire events.
Mojgan Lefebvre, EVP, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, was interviewed about WLD during a breakout session at the CIO 100 Virtual Symposium, Conference & Awards entitled “How Travelers Uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Accelerate Wildfire Damage Assessment and Claims.” She spoke about the positive business outcomes that AI-driven technologies can deliver directly to customers.
“By using AI – along with existing and emerging technologies – we can accelerate the transformation of our data into actionable insights that enhance the experience for our customers while allowing us to better manage risk,” Mojgan said. “And while advanced analytics have always been utilized in the insurance and financial services industry, the use of AI is amplifying that usage and giving it greater momentum.”
In addition to securing the CIO 100 Award for WLD, the solution also earned a Gartner Eye on Innovation Award in 2019.
2020 Gartner Eye on Innovation Award
For the second consecutive year, Travelers made the list of finalists for the Gartner Eye on Innovation Award for Financial Services – this time, for the AI Roof Shape Model.
This Personal Insurance (PI) innovation was named one of the top nine finalists out of more than 220 global nominations for the award, which recognizes innovative use of digital technology-enabled capabilities, products or services for financial services in the Americas.
The model can identify a roof’s shape with high accuracy using aerial imagery and machine learning. This provides rating consistency and pricing accuracy and improves the customer experience.
Mano Mannoochahr, SVP, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, says, “The AI roof shape work has led to several other imagery-based automations, including solar panel identification and roof condition assessment. It’s also helping us reduce friction from the underwriting process while improving risk segmentation and pricing.”
Read more about our 2019 Gartner Eye on Innovation Award.
For the past ten years, more than 200 Travelers employees have upheld the Travelers Promise to take care of our customers, our community and each other by mentoring veterans through American Corporate Partners (ACP).
ACP is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping transitioning veterans and active-duty spouses find civilian careers by matching them with mentors from a broad range of industries. Travelers Community Relations signed on with ACP as its thirteenth corporate partner in 2010 as a way to expand leaders’ and managers’ mentoring options.
Since 2010, more than 200 Travelers employees have engaged in about 600 mentoring relationships with veterans, transitioning military members and active duty military spouses through ACP. To celebrate the partnership’s 10-year milestone, read the first-hand experiences of seven Travelers employees who accepted the mentoring challenge.
Hina, Senior Director, B.I. Technology Analytics, St. Paul, MN
“I’m working with my fifth protégé. One of those protégés served 20 years in the U.S. Army and already had an MBA. During his transition, I helped him gain knowledge about skills he could acquire for the current job market in his field. He was very driven and rapidly was Certified as a Scrum Master and received his Scaled Agile (SAFe) certification. Within six months, he was offered a program management position at a Fortune 500 technology company in Seattle. I get immense satisfaction from sharing my knowledge and experience with others. I help my mentees translate and map their skills from their military background – organizing and executing, dealing with conflicts, evaluating risks, etc. – to the corporate world. I take them through the journey of writing effective resumes and preparing them for interviews. I’ve become a big advocate of hiring veterans. They’re resilient, strong, rigorous and in some ways, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. It’s a truly rewarding experience.”
Daniel, Field Director, BI Construction Risk Control, Chicago, IL
“Having 13 U.S. Marines in my family – including my younger brother – compels me to help veterans. I’ve completed five mentoring relationships through ACP. What all my protégés have had in common is a feeling of uncertainty that their transition to civilian life is really happening. I put myself in their shoes and do a lot of listening. The greatest barrier they learn to work through is adapting to a civilian world that can be ambiguous and full of uncertainty. Their military careers were more ‘black and white’ and involved receiving and following orders. Once they figure that part out, the rest is easier.
I focus on building trust and a personal connection before progressing to giving advice or developing action plans. There’s no better opportunity to give back to the military. It’s very meaningful and provides
opportunities for me to learn something from them.”
Al, Associate Group General Counsel, Hartford CT
“I never served, so this provides me an opportunity to give back to the military. I’ve mentored three protégés so far. I bring them plenty of luck, with two out of the three securing jobs within months. The ACP pairs me with veterans who are interested in attending law school or seeking legal careers. I help with their resumes, letters of intent, how to study in law school, career options and preparing for the bar exam.
I’ve learned it’s helpful to research before meeting with my protégés to understand what they’ve done in the military that can contribute to a successful transition. Helping a military member transition is very satisfying; you’re doing a good deed for someone who has sacrificed so much for our country. Given veterans’ discipline and attributes, you know they’re likely to succeed in whatever career they choose.”
Rob, CAT Team Unit Manager, Denver, CO; U.S. Army & Army National Guard Veteran
“When I got out of the military, I had to assimilate how I acted and how I led others and I also needed to learn a whole new vernacular. It took me a while to adjust to civilian work, so I understand how to help vets, which allows me to continue my contribution to the military.
One of my protégés was a Command Sergeant Major. He had multiple Bronze Stars, but he was fearful about getting out of the military. I helped him build confidence and understand how his resourcefulness, knowledge and experience would serve him. He ended up getting a job in his hometown as the head of recreational tourism.
I invite each of my protégés to be a part of the process, which helps them gain a broader perspective about their own development while transitioning. ACP has been a great way for me to help veterans and to be a part of something bigger.”
Chris, BI Middle Market Business Architect, Hartford, CT; U.S. Air Force Veteran
“ACP’s ‘secret sauce’ is their hands-on engagement; they stay engaged, so that
mentors get as much, or more, out of the experience than protégés do. I’ve mentored at least ten protégés, who have had a wide range of skills and needs. One protégé was an Air Force Academy graduate who was attending the University of Chicago School of Business. I helped him evaluate several offers for summer internships, including one at a large retail chain. I helped him to think about the company behind the scenes, that any large corporation is about data and analytics. It opened his eyes to how many possibilities exist behind the company and job title.
Mentoring has also helped me grow in my career. As I’ve learned more about how large organizations work, I’ve become more confident in understanding what other companies might be looking for in candidates.”
Lisa, Senior Paralegal, Law Office of William J. Ferren & Assoc., Blue Bell, PA
“I’ve mentored eight ACP protégés since 2013. My most memorable was in the military for eight years. She had ‘Ivy League intelligence,’ but still needed encouragement to learn not to settle, to stop doubting herself and to understand her first job didn’t have to be her last. She took that advice and has succeeded in many ways. She earned a scholarship and went on to work on her doctorate. Another protégé had 20 years in the Navy but had never experienced civilian work. She was used to being given and acting on orders. Through mentoring, she learned an enormous amount about herself and how to find a setting that fit her mindset and task-orientation. As a mentor, I listen first and speak second. I try to understand where they are coming from, then guide them into the civilian world in a way that makes sense to them.”
Eric, PI Cloud Architect, Hartford, CT; U.S. Navy Veteran
“I wish ACP had been available when I got out of the military in 1998. I’m currently engaged in my fourth mentorship. My first protégé was a fascinating guy. He came out of the Army and was working on a Ph.D. in computer science. I was able to help him out personally and professionally.
My second protégé needed more help when he got out of the Navy. We did a lot of mock interviews, and I threw him curveball questions. He moved along to a position in computer science support. As a mentor, I’ve also learned things, like the importance of setting ground rules during the initial meeting. ACP is a fantastic program and lets me give back. It’s a good feeling. I’d advise anyone interested in mentoring to go for it.”
“Tell me about yourself.”
“What is your biggest strength? Biggest weakness?”
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
At one point or another, we have all prepared ourselves to answer the cliché interview questions. However, with company cultures shifting and technologies evolving, the interview process is changing every day.
As hiring efforts continue at Travelers, we sat down with some of our senior recruiters to ask what advice they would give to jobseekers looking for opportunities under the umbrella.
Read below to learn their tips for: virtual interviewing, knowing yourself, resume best practices and remembering the basics.
With most companies interviewing candidates virtually, Erik suggests that preparation and follow up are key. Communication with the interviewer, before and after the interview, is especially important in a remote work environment. He also reminds jobseekers to not only mentally prepare for their interview, but to make sure their physical space is set up, too.
“Treat these interviews as if they were in person interviews making sure that you dress professionally and that you have a quiet place to be able to interview from,” Erik explains. For more tips, read our article on Preparing For a Video Interview
In order for our interviewers to get to know you, you have to get to know yourself. “The interviewers want to know who you are,” Lynn says.
Lynn advises candidates to know their skillset and make sure to ask questions during the interview to learn if they are a good fit for the job. Be authentic!
When applying for a job, your resume is the hiring team’s first impression of you. Rather than listing your previous work experience and respective duties, Nathan suggests building your resume using your experiences and accomplishments.
“That sets you apart before you even get started on your job hunt,” Nathan says. “As a side benefit, it may provide a nice little roadmap during your interview as well.”
In all the hustle and bustle of new interviewing methods, don’t forget the basics. Ruth reminds our jobseekers to be prepared for technical and behavioral questions, and to make sure to show up with questions of their own. For more tips, check out our infographic on Behavioral Interviewing.
Our claim professionals are continuing to deliver on the Travelers Promise, to take care of our customers, communities and each other, which has become increasingly important during the upheaval and uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
Just before daybreak on a Monday in mid-April, a severe windstorm swept through Charlotte, North Carolina, damaging properties across the region. After the storm passed, Erin Karaffa packed up her drone and her personal protective gear, ready to start conducting property inspections and helping our customers recover.
Within a few hours, Erin, a Property Claim professional in our Virginia-Carolina Claim Center, had spoken to a customer whose home was damaged by a large falling tree. Because of the extent of damage to the attic, Erin couldn’t conduct a virtual inspection, so she set up an in-person inspection for the following day and arrived on site in protective gear, following social distancing guidelines.
“I like to give customers a heads-up and call from the driveway to say, ‘I’m here. Are you comfortable with me coming in? I have a mask and gloves on,’” Erin explained. “I want to make sure they’re prepared. Even though you see a lot of people wearing masks, it can still be intimidating.”
In addition to inspecting the interior damage, Erin used a drone to assess the damage to the roof and then issued the customer’s claim payment via ePay, Travelers’ secure electronic payment system. “The tree impacted a pipe that came out of her roof,” Erin stated, “and it shattered all the way into the attic and down into the crawlspace, so she needed to get a plumber in there right away. ePay helped her do that.”
The customer was so pleased with Erin’s prompt, professional response despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 that she sent a heartfelt letter of thanks. “You had a caring demeanor and were very thorough, professional, diligent and knowledgeable about what to do,” the customer wrote to Erin. “Travelers is fortunate to have an employee like you, especially during this pandemic that our world is dealing with.”