Insurance is an industry desperate to re-invent itself: a work-life balance interview with Casper Wakefield

"Ours is an industry built on a rich environment of data, with the will and means to invest in solutions around data and analytics. That's really exciting."

How did you get into insurance?

I’ve worked in financial services (banking, employee benefits and insurance) my entire career, so this is the world that I know and enjoy.

When are you at your happiest?

I’m at my happiest when I’m out running, skiing or mountain biking in the mountains with my family and friends. It’s the ultimate feeling of purpose, passion and freedom for me.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m working on building the data management and analytics capabilities in our business (Trygg-Hansa and Codan).

I’m also working on a project focused on operational excellence. This will be instrumental in improving customer experience as well as a critical step in realising our vision to be a truly digital insurance business.

Are there any new skills you'd like to learn?

How to do a 360-degree spin with skis on: a so-called 'helicopter'.

What’s surprised you the most about working in insurance?

How much potential there is when we start connecting the incredible amount of customer data and insights we have to develop new value propositions and improve customer experiences!

What’s your go-to dinner party recipe?

Lasagne. It’s my best and only dish for really good friends only. The trick is to make sure they're absolutely starving before they start on my ‘lasagne-a-la-cement’.

Does insurance have an image problem?

Insurance will never be sexy. But people do get excited by the things that they need in their lives: their home, vehicles, tools, furniture.

The more we can integrate insurance as a service within this area, the more we will raise the profile of our industry, products and services. For example, by promoting preventive risk management solutions, we could get to a place where we have enough data from devices connected to the internet to detect minute changes in vibrations, energy, the temperature, wind factors and weather factors. Then we could start preventing claims from happening.

How has your love of the outdoors influenced your work life?

I've learned that it’s not about the will to win, everybody has that. You have to have the will to prepare to win. That makes all the difference.

What film title best describes your life?

Groundhog day. As much as I would like to think that I’m changing and improving as an individual, and as much as I think we should be constantly evolving as a company, my internal impatience constantly gets reminded that changing hearts and minds takes time!

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in insurance?

Ours is an industry built on a rich environment of data, that has the will and means to invest in solutions around data and analytics, and that's really exciting.

Also, ours is an industry desperate to re-invent itself. We can expect to see more and more insurance-driven disruption in the pursuit of better, more meaningful insurance services.

As a parent to three boys, what's your best parenting tip?

Spend time with them before it’s too late! One of the things that worries me the most as a parent is the impact of being available online 24/7. I believe it will take decades or more for the human body to reconfigure to this new way of life and as a parent, I want to help my children navigate that. One way is to try and keep them busy with alternatives like sports, school and so on.

How is insurance making the world a better place?

The more the focus of insurance moves to preventive care and risk mitigation advice, the bigger the difference we can make in giving greater peace of mind to our customers.

I’m also convinced that insurance companies can play a significant role in driving more sustainability. This will increase dramatically in the coming years as we bring more environmentally friendly and responsible choices to our customers when we settle claims. We also have a role to play in making sure we select responsible vendors and partners as well as invest in companies with strong commitment to sustainability.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I’m always reading a couple of books in parallel. Right now I’m reading The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. Also The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. It’s the fourth time I’ve read The Goal and I enjoy it just a little more every time. It is the bible on the concepts that underpin lean, agile and operational excellence.

When was the last time you belly laughed?

Nothing makes me smile and laugh more than my sons do. For example, my nine-year old recently asked me if I was a manager at work. When I confirmed that I was he replied, “but clearly you are not the boss.” This puzzled me a little bit, so I asked him why? He replied “well, if you were the boss you wouldn’t travel so much. If you are a boss people would come and see you.”

Being lectured on management by my own son gave me a good laugh. I’m expecting a coaching session on how to leverage Skype and Microsoft Teams more extensively any time soon!