Continuing the successful #WomeninFinTech series, we asked Cecilia Sevillano, Head of Smart Homes Solutions at Swiss RE, about her journey in the industry, what the future of InsurTech will look like, and what advice she gives to women just starting out.
Cecilia is Head of Smart Homes Solutions at Swiss Re. During the past 15 years, she has specialised in bringing strategic initiatives to market and creating channel distribution strategies through partnerships. In the rise of IoT and data-driven environments, Cecilia has been leading emerging business initiatives and engaging with InsurTech within Swiss Re.
How did you start your career?
I started my career in Colombia, first in a bank and then in a leasing company. Then, I moved to Europe where I have spent most of my career within the insurance industry across EMEA and more recently, globally. Throughout roles, I have transformed innovative ideas into revenue generating units. I create “start-ups” within the corporate world.
The FinTech/InsurTech industries need women that dare to take risks, and to, sometimes, not please.
What was your lightbulb moment?
I've always been quite result-driven, feeling the thrill of driving business. Throughout time, the importance of purpose has become a priority, which I have reconciled into "business with purpose". Technology triggered a lightbulb moment when the possibility to make the world a safer place is not only real, but good for business. People will be empowered by connectivity. They will be able to remotely control things at home and avoid losses for their and the insurers' benefit. They will have a direct impact on profitability and will become owners of an emerging asset: their data. Hence, a trade of value will be created between insurers and customers, broadening the insurance offer towards prevention. This is a fascinating future for our industry and the world's resilience.
Why do we see so few women in tech?
I believe that the root cause lays in our upbringing and established societal roles. Girls are brought up to be “lovely” and perfect while boys, daring and tough. This is quite well illustrated with findings on an HP report where men applied for jobs if they meet 60% of the qualifications while women only did so if they met 100%. Now more than ever, high dose of boldness and acceptance of imperfection is needed in men and women to succeed beyond status quo in fast paced tech environments. The FinTech/InsurTech industries need women that dare to take risks, and to, sometimes, not please.
What advice do you have for women starting out their career in tech?
Trust yourself, stretch your own limits and stand for your thoughts. This is the advice I give to myself. Nobody will know what you've got to offer intellectually (IQ) and emotionally (EQ) if you don't take part in the conversation. Aiming to always contribute in internal meetings is a good start. Then moving step by step to asking questions at conferences and finally, be ready to take the big stage without second thoughts. Recent events have sparked a privileged point in time for women to show what they are capable of. Embrace the opportunity.
The possibility to make the world a safer place is not only real, but good for business.
What will the future of InsurTech look like?
In my personal view, insurance will evolve into "lifestyle" covers. Artificial intelligence's potential to assess risk based on each customer's lifestyle, as it happens, will enable customised and dynamically priced offers. Risk profiling per individual will lead to the emergence of "omni-covers" possibly merging motor, household and life insurance into one. Prevention will become the core of the insurance's DNA with claims handling probably becoming less significant in the overall insurance equation through time.