I started with RGA India nine years back with a dual role, both as a medical officer for the India team and an underwriter. I almost immediately understood that RGA had a unique culture of innovation: We look at problems from all angles – with the client’s needs driving us to find solutions. We all work together – the underwriters, the claims team, the medical officers, the actuaries – to come up with the best benefits for the clients and the market.
At my other employers, I found the focus was more on control and process which sometimes diluted client focus. I recall earlier in my career at another company a client needed something urgently, so I sent some emails to a regional office seeking information. I got a very polite reply, not with an answer, but with a suggestion to follow hierarchy and not contact senior personnel out of turn. That would never happen at RGA. RGA’s leaders are not hierarchical.
That’s the fantastic thing about working here: You have the opportunity to stretch yourself and learn from an exchange of ideas and experiences. If you volunteer, you will get a chance to lead. Many of the things I’ve done were never in my job description. For example, I organized a large claims study and hosted, and marketed a seminar about it – all were firsts for me.
I also got the opportunity to join the Hong Kong office as part of the underwriting team handling a region that spanned nine different markets across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It was a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure to diverse markets, different ways of doing business, and even a range of cultural expectations about health.
Since then, I’ve shifted between different roles, and now I’m focused more on the digital consumer experience and product underwriting solutions, specifically on moving product design and ideation to the consumer experience. I’m pushing for underwriting solutions to address some of the industry’s deepest challenges around using data to improve consumer onboarding.
Hong Kong is particularly exciting because it’s a center of innovation as a gateway to China. All of the international players are here, and it’s an extremely competitive environment that operates with amazing speed. You are constantly launching something new, whether that is a completely new product or an enhancement to an existing one. There is just an openness here that you don’t find in other places.
Throughout the insurance industry, underwriting is often viewed as a barrier. I certainly came to RGA with a lot of skepticism about applicants’ motivations. But I came to see that underwriters can be more than gatekeepers; we can be promise-keepers, including rather than excluding people from coverage. Bad apples are not the norm, they are exceptions, and while you still need to take care of the risk, the job is to find ways to protect more people.
This commitment to making financial protection accessible to all really makes me very proud. At other companies, it’s all about the brand first, and the RGA brand certainly commands a lot of respect in the marketplace. But here it’s not about who we are; it’s about what we do to protect more people.
This commitment to making financial protection accessible to all really makes me very proud. At other companies, it’s all about the brand first, and the RGA brand certainly commands a lot of respect in the marketplace. But here it’s not about who we are; it’s about what we do to protect more people. We innovate to compete, but the focus isn’t on product development for its own sake. I feel that I am part of something bigger – helping people who are left out. It’s this vision that all of us work toward – regardless of title or rank – and that gives me immense satisfaction. You can get money or designations at other organizations, but I think this feeling of pride in making a difference is very rare.