17 powerful women in InsurTech that you must know about right now

Technology is changing the insurance industry. In many cases, women are leading the charge.

InsurTech is on the rise. The sector has raised over $2.7bn in investment in Europe alone since 2014. In many places, women are leading the industry’s transformation.

Here are 17 of the most influential women that you should know about that are changing insurance by leveraging new innovations.

Adele Robertson, director of insurance propositions, Barclays

Barclays TechStars accelerator has been a driving force behind FinTech startups across the UK, the US and Israel. The programme, which tapped into $42m of funding last year, has had a long supporter in Adele Robertson, director of insurance propositions at Barclays. She has long been a sponsor and mentor for the FinTech and InsurTech startups.

But that is not the only reason why she has made this list. Robertson has devoted the better part of the past two decades to developing a wealth of insights in financial services, including core banking, rewards and insurance with Barclays.

Robertson has been a key driver behind several strategy and change programmes, specifically focused on the development of distinctive, compelling and commercially driven customer propositions. Her long list of achievements includes the launch of the first contactless debit card in the UK, Barclays Blue Rewards and most recently Barclays Simple Life Insurance.

In her current role, Robertson is responsible for the innovation, design and implementation of new propositions and development of the existing portfolio for Barclays UK Insurance.

Amanda Brock, CEO, OpenUK

Amanda Brock has a packed schedule. To begin with, Brock is the CEO of OpenUK, the British organisation committed to developing and sustaining the UK’s leadership in open technology. In her role, she is devoted to promoting businesses, projects and people who use open technology.

But it doesn’t end there. Brock is also the chair of the Open Source and Intellectual Property Advisory Group of the United Nations Technology Innovation Labs, the European Representative of the world’s biggest defensive patent pool, the Open Invention Network and a member of the OASIS Open Projects’ Advisory Council.

In the past, Brock has been a joint-organiser of the UK Open Source Awards in 2019, having been a judge of the awards in 2014 and 2015. She has also held the CEO role of the Trustable Software Engineering Project, a project focused on solutions to risk in open source software, in 2019 and she still acts as a director of this organisation.

Having clocked time over the years structuring and negotiating a multitude of deals, Brock’s roles have included contribution to and leadership of a number of multi-organisational collaborative projects and open source initiatives.

On top of all these accolades, Brock is also the editor of the book Free and Open Source Software: Law, Policy and Practice. The book is due to be published by Oxford University Press in August 2020.

Andrea Santolalla, chief operating officer for Hiscox Special Risks, the Hiscox Group

Specialist insurer Hiscox is no stranger to developing cutting-edge tech. In the past, its InsurTech offering has included augmented reality apps to unearth flooding risks and providing insights regarding cybersecurity risks.

Andrea Santolalla has been a key player in the Hiscox Group’s many initiatives. As the chief operating officer for Hiscox Special Risks, a Hiscox Group division which underwrites over half of the world’s specialist corporate protection insurance premium, Santolalla daily oversees various change initiatives in complex international environments, with a focus on regulatory, IT, service delivery and process improvement.

Recently, she successfully implemented a readiness plan and operating model to continue transacting European business, post-Brexit. Santolalla has led an operational team focused on policy and claims administration. She acts as a catalyst for operational excellence and continuous improvement to help the business achieve its growth and profitability targets.

Cecilia Sevillano, head of smart homes solutions, Swiss Re

The internet of things is huge. From smart speakers to connected toilets, people are increasingly filling up their homes, workplaces and cars with high-tech devices. However, the proliferation of smart gadgets has also increased the cybersecurity risks people and businesses face.

That’s where Cecilia Sevillano comes in. She is the head of smart homes solutions at Swiss Re, the reinsurance company that recently collaborated with car electronics company Pioneer to build a new telematics solution.

During the past 15 years, she has been recognising emerging business opportunities and consolidating them as profitable ventures across insurance and the financial sector. Now, with the rise of IoT and data-driven environments, she has been reinventing home insurance and shaping the insurance business model with clients.

Francesca Hopwood Road, head of RegTech and advanced analytics, Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulator supervising the financial services sector. Francesca Hopwood Road leads the FCA’s RegTech and advanced analytics division. The team is responsible for developing and embedding data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools and capability across the organisation. She also runs the FCA’s RegTech activities, including the FCA’s TechSprint events. Since joining the regulator in 2010 she has led several strategic transformation programmes. Prior to joining, she worked in the third sector and private sector using data and intelligence to identify and mitigate harm for consumers.

Jillian Slyfield, digital economy practice leader, Aon

The gig economy is upon us. Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb are just some of the innovative companies transforming the world of work. For insurers, this new state of affairs has created both risks and opportunities.

This is something Jillian Slyfield deals with on a daily basis. Having clocked up time at Wells Fargo as well as insurance broker Marsh, she now serves as Aon’s digital economy practice leader. In this role, she addresses digital disruption of traditional industries and the on-demand economy. Her focus areas are mobility as a service, the future of work and new economy digital risk.

Within mobility as a service, Slyfield focuses on addressing the evolving and bespoke risk challenges of rideshare, carshare, subscription lease, shared delivery, autonomous vehicles, and micromobility.

The gig economy is a fact and Slyfield ensures that Aon keeps its market leadership, technology platforms and deep analytics capabilities are harnessed for our clients.

Joanne Wardale, head of legal and compliance, Cigna Health Insurance Services

With more than 15 years of experience of working with regulatory compliance, Joanne Wardale is currently using her skills to lead the legal and compliance function for Cigna Global Health Benefits Europe, the insurer with over 95 million customers around the world. She is also managing a team of legal and compliance professionals across the UK, Spain and Belgium advising on the local, regional and global legal and regulatory issues.

Meryem Duygun, chair in risk and insurance, Aviva, and co-chair, Global Centre for Banking & Financial Innovation, The University of Nottingham

Few people have a CV as impressive as Meryem Duygun. Not only is she a professor of banking and finance at the Nottingham University Business School, but Duygun also holds an endowed chaired professor in risk and insurance funded by Aviva, a massive UK insurer.

On top of that, she directs the ESRC IAA funded University of Nottingham Fintech Research Network  and is the president of IFABS-International Finance and Banking Society, a leading global research society.

She has devoted her career to becoming an expert in FinTech and InsurTech. She has written several books and studies published in numerous leading international journals.

Parul Green, head of the European AXA Lab, AXA

What will the future of InsurTech hold? If you ask Parul Green, the head of the European AXA Lab, the answer is more AI, big data used in predictive analytics and the internet of things are key innovations that will affect the insurance real in the future.

You should take her word for it. She is constantly hailed as one of the key influencers in FinTech, is on the judging panel for FinTech 50 Europe, Disrupt 100 and Insurance Times’Technology Excellence Award. She is also a mentor at the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace.

Pravina Ladva, chief technology and operations officer, Life Capital, Swiss Re

Pravina Ladva joined Swiss Re in April 2017 and now serves as its chief technology and operations officer. As the title suggests, she is heading the technology and operations across Life Capital, Swiss Re’s gateway into the primary insurance market, to drive digitisation, automation and cost leadership to allow businesses to scale and grow.

Ladva is regarded as a highly experienced change and transformation leader with an exceptional track record in complex roles, with accountability for strategy, delivery and results leader. She is skilled at creating a nurturing culture where colleagues can succeed at creating commercial benefits. This also includes working with technology startups and large corporates.

Priscilla Cournède, head of group prudential and regulatory developments on FinTech and digital innovation, SCOR

With over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, Priscilla Cournède has acquired an impressive expertise in regulatory matters regarding insurance and reinsurance, mental and private organisations.

As the head of group prudential and regulatory developments on FinTech and digital innovation at SCOR, the reinsurance company, she has taken a particularly big interest in how new technologies can support innovation teams in foreseeing and adapting to emerging regulatory requirements related to operational resilience.

The way she sees it, big data, AI, high interconnectedness bring new challenges and risks to insurance companies and it is Cournède’s job to contribute to those discussions by supporting internal teams in understanding the expectations from public authorities and interacting with regulators to assess how they intend to adapt their supervision to the digital era.

Stephanie Smith, COO, Allianz Insurance

From sport to crop insurance, Allianz insurance is no stranger to trying new things. As the COO of the insurance company, Stephanie Smith has been leading the push to keep innovating. An engineer at heart, she uses her training to bring in new insights into the business. Having already led the company to several industry awards, Smith will be speaking at the Global InsurTech Summit between March 2 and March 6 in London.

Christina Nestares, CEO UK Insurance, Admiral Group         

Having started her career as a reporter at World Investment News covering Rwanda, Libya and Ecuador, Christina Nestares is now heading the insurance arm of Admiral Group, the financial services firm. As CEO UK insurance, Nestares is still eager to learn new things, having completed an advanced management programme at Harvard Business School in 2019. She will be speaking at the Global InsurTech Summit between March 2 and March 6 in London.

Yanna Winter, Head of IT, Generali UK

Generali is a big player in the insurance and financial services industry. In the UK, Yanna Winter is leading chief information officer and head of IT at for Generali UK and for Generali Corporate and Commercial, Generali.

Winter is a strategy and technology expert with extensive IT experience. She is hailed as having successfully bridged the gap between business strategies and IT organisations. Winter has an established reputation in leading and delivering large-scale transformations.

Kanika Chaganty, chief data officer, Vitality Health

Kanika Chaganty has over two decades’ worth of experience of innovation. She is currently the chief data officer at Vitality Health, the insurance company. Her key responsibilities are looking after data engineering, data strategy, architecture and governance, customer relationship management and single view of the customer.

She was responsible for operationalising General Data Protection Regulation across business and IT in the organisation. She is an outspoken supporter of data driven innovation, its role in emerging technologies and the related ethical considerations. She is an advocate for gender parity in society and workplace. Chaganty is also a certified mental health workplace champion and volunteers for Science Oxford.

Sabine VanderLinden, CEO, Rainmaking Insurtech

Sabine VanderLinden was one of the first to identify InsurTech as a growth market in 2014. Since then she has become a tour de force in European InsurTech. She is the CEO of Rainmaking Insurtech, a venture builder and innovation consultancy assisting large corporates in their innovation strategy, startup engagements, venture building and internal innovation efforts.

That means she is instrumental in Startupbootcamp,’s Europe’s leading early-stage and independent accelerator, for supporting the continent’s InsurTech startups.

At Startupbootcamp, VanderLinden cultivates the expertise of a large group of leading insurers, investors and mentors to bring the innovation of cohorts of promising start-ups across multiple geographies to market within a three month-period.

At Rainmaking Innovation, she leads corporate innovation within the Insurance space to shape solutions to support insurers, brokers and other insurance providers address core challenges and design innovation and execution initiatives that work.

Sam White, CEO, Pukka Insure

Sam White is the CEO and founder of Pukka Insurance, the van insurance company. She is also the founder of Action365, the insurance provider company, which she launched at the age of 24. Her stated goal is to change the insurance industry for the better and level the playing field. White is also well-known for promoting women and diversity in the financial services sector.

Copyright © 2020 FinTech Global

You can learn more about the state of the InsurTech industry by visiting the Global InsurTech Summit between March 2 and March 6. 

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