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Women in Tech: Female leaders shaking up insurtech in Asia

Insight Sep 29, 2022

e27 spoke to four talented female leaders as they share their experience in Tech and what the Asia market holds for IXT.

Women have always held important roles across different industries, but more so in tech where there is a constant need for fresh and innovative ideas. With more women taking on leadership roles in the workplace, industries like insurtech are ripe with potential for growth especially in the hands of talented women that can offer rich and unique perspectives.

With a fast growing demand to digitalize insurance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other services, Southeast Asia and the rest of its neighboring regions need to catch up with the times. Many companies in the insurance industry, however, are burdened by inflexible legacy systems and negative customer experiences.

Operationally, a talent gap, ever-changing regulatory requirements, long marketing periods, and ineffective collaborations cause companies to fall behind the competition, especially in a field as rapidly evolving as insurtech. Furthermore, high operational costs can stifle growth and undermine efficiency.

Companies like IXT are ripe for entering a market driven by the need to innovate and create solutions to modern-day issues. With what can be dubbed as Southeast Asia’s “digital decade,” there’s no time like the present to strike in terms of finding digitalization’s place in various industries.

With all these challenges in mind, we spoke to four female leaders from IXT to find out how to navigate the ups and downs of the insurtech world. Get to know the paths that led them to the wonderful world of insurtech and find out their vision for the future of the industry.

The four IXT team members are:

  • Duyen Dang, Director of Partnerships at IXT Vietnam;
  • Thuy Nguyen, Country Head for IXT Vietnam;
  • Shu-Yu (Elsie) Lin, General Manager for IXT East Asia;
  • Michelle Ip, VP of Strategy at IXT Asia Pacific

e27: What were some of the challenges you faced working in Tech, Elsie and Michelle?

Elsie: I have over 10 years of experience in digital transformation, enterprise system planning, and product management in the Fintech, e-commerce, and IoT sectors. Being an ex-founder of a B2B SaaS startup and having led digital transformation at a multi-national company overseeing multiple markets in Asia, I saw that Technology has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, and public perceptions of capability are frequently associated with men vs. women. Sometimes I feel that I need to work harder in order to prove myself to the people I work with and eliminate that perception gap to earn the opportunities.

Michelle: Having worked in both Tech and Business, I’ve had the pleasure of playing a variety of roles throughout the insurance value chain, from entering the Cambodian life insurance market on a greenfield basis to developing the first digital insurance platform in Hong Kong to launching a fintech start-up. I find that in Tech, both the engineering and business teams may feel that they are not understood and this affects their work efficiency and effectiveness. As a female leader I care most about the people whom I work with and I see the importance of communication in building a great team, I do spend the extra time understanding their situations, learning their processes and ways of doing things.

Instead of focusing on delivering projects within certain man-days, having a conversation to discuss helps breed more trust and transparency, essential qualities for building a team and delivering exceptional results. The challenge women face in Tech is leading and showing how work effectiveness and efficiency can be derived using a personable approach, and translating that value into people leadership and motivation. I encourage business users to involve other working teams, and to share their business objectives, outcomes, requirements. It helps with cross-collaboration, and this applies not just in the Tech industry but in other industries as well.

e27: How does IXT provide value back into the insurance value chain and assist companies in their digitalization journey?

Michelle: Countries in the Asia-Pacific are at different stages of digitalization and, coupled with the pace of technology innovation, insurers need to understand how to map their digital transformation journey to innovate for the future. I see great value and potential in Asia, where insurance penetration is less than 5% of GDP across different countries. Insurance digitalization is not only about putting products online or transforming or streamlining the operation, but also about collaborating with ecosystems to create new ecosystems where insurance becomes an integral part of every day and everyone’s life. IXT’s continuous improvement and development in technology (but not limited to insurance) is the key to making this happen.

IXT’s modern core solution, with low-code/no-code UI, flexible architecture, and robust rule engine, accelerates insurance business innovations with traditional products, microinsurance, embedded, on-demand, UBI, and more. IXT can provide the technological backbone and aid insurance companies in creatively curating their desired products for better market fit. Make the technology work for you, instead of making do with technology.

e27: Why is IXT a game-changer? What excites you about joining IXT? What makes IXT different?

Duyen: I saw the IXT demo and I found that the solution is unique in the market. Some companies just focus on the launch, and once that is done, there is no further follow-up or care for the customer. But IXT is different in that they care about the customer and their results. They also look at the customer’s back end, and I find it good for the Vietnam market. There are many friendly and supportive people at IXT that made me feel very welcome.

Thuy: I was sold on the founder’s mission. Not just do I believe in the mission, but I believe in the foundation of our product and the founder’s vision – grand, yet achievable. Many start-ups in insurtech failed in Vietnam as changes take time, and I am triggered by a desire to change the slow and inefficiency of the insurance industry. Alex and the founding team possess the right mentality when it comes to tackling this market, and this makes it possible for us on the ground to execute it well. The team is always striving to be the best, making a difference, and finding a way to make the customer’s dream a reality.

Elsie: IXT is formed by a group of multi-dimensional professionals working hard together to drive thought leadership in product and technology innovation. It is exciting to join them and build the business with like-minded talents that carry solid domain knowledge in insurance and technology.

IXT is different in that it is not just a solution provider; it provides a triangulated value proposition of:

  • Tested by insurance practitioners
  • Designed based on forward-thinking technology advancements
  • Updated with the latest security requirements

Michelle: IXT’s founder and the company’s vision and solutions are some of the many reasons I joined them. IXT doesn’t only aim at being a solution provider; they are a forward-thinker and a pioneer in terms of designing solutions that enable insurance providers to leapfrog to the digital front. IXT enables and inspires partners to work innovatively and quickly.

From a people and culture standpoint, IXT values diversity and hunts for the best talents in each market. With the business registered in Singapore, they have expanded in the region, and we now have representation in Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This also means that when companies work with IXT, they get access to a team of multinational experts that could help them with their regional digital transformation plans.

Looking forward: the future according to IXT’s dynamic team

e27: What is your vision for the industry? How does IXT help make that vision a reality?

Duyen: My vision for the industry is to improve customer experience in the Vietnam market and to provide more understanding for Vietnamese companies to innovate in their products. IXT has the technology to create embedded insurance, and on-demand insurance, such as flight delay products with claims automation, and it will be a very positive experience for customers if they can get a message from the insurance that your flight is delayed and here is your insurance pay-out. I want to be the first person in Vietnam to share this model with everyone.

Thuy: I look forward to the day when we will be able to work with every platform/ insurer in the country and bring more and more innovative products to end-customers. Insurance is still something new and is not considered a necessity for Vietnamese people. I hope we can help propel the industry to a new height, making insurance accessible for everyone.

Elsie: My vision is to make insurance more accessible to everyone by leveraging technological innovations.

IXT can make that vision a reality through creative thinking and our advanced technology. The team comprises different domain experts, and we take special care to source the best talents in the specific domains. This gives IXT insider knowledge of various specializations and allows us to be agile and flexible to provide a holistic assessment for every customer. We have a very experienced team and people from consulting firms, helping our customers apply strategic thinking with a collaborative approach to their digital transformation journey to achieve their desired outcomes.

e27: What would you say to women looking to enter Tech, Elsie and Michelle?

Elsie: There are 3 things that I’ve kept in my mind and that have motivated me in my career, and they are:

  1. Gender is just a social framework and one that we can disrupt. The focus should be on following our heart’s desire. So long as we are truly passionate about what we want to do, we can overcome any challenges. 
  2. Self-Empowerment: We must believe that we have control over our own destiny and make the most of what life has to offer.
  3. Find Inspiration: For me, Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” provided new perspectives and encouragement to consider how I should find my voice, be assertive, and speak up because I have the ability to do so. It empowers me to shift the focus from limitation to liberation, and that is strength.

Michelle: Just go for it! We should not be bound by gender, and continuous learning is a must in this ever-changing industry and environment. You need to be self-motivated to pick up new skills and knowledge. Or else, you will fall behind very quickly and what you know could be outdated very soon. Tech is a very fast-paced environment, so you need to prepare for that. You have to ask yourself if you have enough interest and motivation to work in such an environment. Lastly, Tech is a huge space. You don’t need to be an engineer to go into Tech, there is always a place for everyone. It is worthwhile to take the time to explore the right roles that are suitable for you and your skill set.

An all-in-one platform for insurtech

IXT enters the picture with strong consideration over business pain points. The business provides a one-stop-shop solution to clients looking to optimize their operations and improve their product or service rollout through the Insurance Enterprise Results Platform.

The IXT platform enables product innovations, centralizes product information, and accelerates product launches––all in one place, and with low-code configuration. Apart from these product specificities, IXT’s platform also supports multi-market, multi-currency, and of course, localized requirements, making it fit for product development — whether start-ups are planning to expand internationally or locally.

In terms of market campaigns and improving customer reception, IXT’s platform helps businesses deliver personalized outreach, improving campaign return on investments (ROI). In addition to that, partnerships are enhanced by exploring the possibility of joint promotions or referrals. These types of innovations have spurred growth for insurance businesses and improved their partnerships and linkages.

Pioneers ushering in an exciting future

Each team member has transformed IXT into the fast-growing innovator that it is today. With all these vibrant innovators at the forefront of catalyzing a smarter, more innovative future for the insurtech ecosystem — not only in the Asia Pacific but across the globe — it will be interesting to see what will come in the next years out of these ground-breaking pioneers.

This article was originally published on e27.co in September 2022.