ILC Rising Star Interview: Chris McKeague, Head of Property Transformation, Innovation Group

Tell us about your role. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?

As Head of Property Transformation, I oversee all aspects of software development and change within Innovation Group for property. I am responsible for the decision making around software development / purchasing strategy, all the way to testing and delivery into our claim’s operation. 

The area I find most interesting about my role, or perhaps the area I get greatest satisfaction from, is working with others to conceptualise a change and then seeing that change released into our day-to-day operation. It’s rewarding to be able to see the business and our people becoming more efficient, knowing that I have been instrumental in that change. Every change feels like a step forward, however big, or small.

What made you want to work in this industry? 

Honestly, I fell into the industry initially after university. However, I have always had an underlying geeky side, dating all the way back to the years of tinkering with ZX Spectrums and Amiga 500s. It wasn’t long before I started to see what I considered to be opportunities for change or improvement, which led me to putting my ideas forward (even when they weren’t necessarily asked for). This led to me getting involved in the supporting of testing new features, and eventually building the courage to propose my own ideas to the SLT. 

Fast forward a number of years to today and there are so many opportunities for the insurance industry to step forward in terms of technology, whether that be customer facing or not; there are some organisations out there who’s most used and relied on piece of software is 30 years old! Developing that landscape is something I want to remain a part of and help to mould the future.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to your industry in the next year? 

While it’s not revolutionary to say it, working for a business embedded in claims management it’s the classics; higher demands / expectations of customers, coupled with the drive to keep claim costs down, for both our insurer clients and their customers. 

We have noticed a definite pattern since the Covid19 pandemic started, in that consumers are expecting more from us in terms of speed and quality. This has meant we have had to increase the efficiency of our processes and methodologies, but also our communication needs to remain efficient and concise when speaking with the stakeholders we interact with. Similarly, our clients want us to meet these demands, but no business can just write a blank cheque. For anyone in this industry that means investment today to meet tomorrow’s requirements. If you’re not looking to enhance what you offer to the marketplace, you’re in effect stagnant.

How would you like to see the industry improved next year / 5 years?

Integration of software and systems has a massive part to play in increasing innovation and efficiencies. Across the industry people are often used to plug the gaps that should be automatically filled by software. 

I would like to see genuine time and effort put into delivering this, consumers will benefit from this in terms of speed of action and consistency of information. It also means that employees currently tied up within data entry roles are freed up to support with speaking with clients and customers, building relationships and strengthening understanding across the board.

Investing in this way also encourages long term collaborations between various organisations, of all kinds, fostering genuine partnerships.

If you could give your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

16 years old? I should probably say something like “start thinking about a vocation and work towards it, have a goal, study hard”. However, at 16 years I doubt very much that I’d listen even to myself. Without going too off the rails, at 16 it’s about discovering who you are and what drives you. Even at 21 I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. So, enjoy the moment, you’re only young once, just know that when you decide where you want to go you need to be prepared to work hard and graft to get there and it won’t all happen overnight. Keep your chin up, find a good close group of friends to keep you honest, and you’ll be fine.


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