Modern Insurance Magazine catches up with Christelle Frost, Chief of People at Genasys Technologies, to find out about her human perspective on a tech-focused industry and why the workplace environment will continue to evolve.
Q. Tell us about your role at your firm. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?
A. I’m responsible for our People Strategy, with an overview of our brilliant talent and expertise across our bases in South Africa and the UK. We’re a fast-growing insurance administration platform provider, but we’re focused on growing at a sustainable pace as we work with our clients and partners to positively change the experience for consumers who are buying and using insurance products. Our ethos at Genasys is to support our clients to evolve their digital ability by overhauling inflexible technologies, and our team’s passion and commitment are critical to us achieving this.
Our people and culture are what sets us apart – we don’t hide behind our technology platform. Talent is key to our success and our recruitment process continuously evolves to find individuals who believe in our vision: to revolutionise the legacy technology and user experience surrounding insurance.
Q. What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?
A. For any sector, including the insurance and insurtech industry, attracting and retaining talent to support the growth of a business is always a challenge – but that’s not to say it’s impossible. At Genasys, we make a point of looking for ‘superstars’ from all backgrounds and levels of experience to support our mission to challenge the status quo of legacy insurance technology within the industry.
We’re always thinking differently about how to recruit and successfully onboard young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and those early in their careers, as we play our role in supporting the next generation of insurtech leaders and thinkers. We’ve recently opened our Product and Innovation Campus in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, which has put us in a great position to support our expansion and attract emerging talent across South Africa. For me, the innovation headquarters reflects our trajectory as a company on an international scale.
We’ve recently launched our learnership programme set up with local universities in South Africa, whereby students between 18-25 years old gain valuable work skills and receive an introduction to the insurtech industry through a 12-month period at our campus. We’re also exploring how we could extend this scheme to UK universities.
Q. If you could go back to the start of your professional career, knowing what you now know, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
A. I would undoubtedly tell my younger self to stand by the premise of “When nothing goes right, go left”, and adopt it earlier because it’s going to become one of your favourites later in life! Things very seldom go to plan and that’s okay. You just need to figure out how to adapt, try something different and remember to find something to laugh about. Humour doesn’t solve all your problems, but it certainly helps you deal with it.
Q. What would be your prediction for the industry in 2024 and beyond?
A. Coming at this from a ‘people perspective’, I would say that I’m expecting to see further changes to our industry’s understanding and evolution of the workplace environment. The global pandemic accelerated our capability to work remotely from the traditional work office, and as a result, societal attitudes towards hybrid working have dramatically shifted. However, it’s easy to forget that hybrid working isn’t a new concept. In fact, Genasys was already considering a hybrid work model before the pandemic started. Considering and testing different concepts have always been part of the Genasys ethos. As our founder Steve Symes said, “For us, agile was a way of being long before it was a term”.
The pandemic simply represented a ‘watershed’ moment in the evolution of the future workplace, as it delivered the proof of principle that remote working for businesses could happen at scale. Business leaders are now considering what this looks like in the long-term.
At Genasys, we’ve found that our people love working directly with others – they value that face-to-face, real-life interaction and collaboration– and so do our clients! Ultimately, we’re here to help our clients realise their commercial ambitions and as we value that personal touch, we believe in on-site visits and engagement.
To provide an environment that supports our colleagues, we regularly review and develop our workplace practices. Taking this to a practical example, we have a flexible approach with a general hybrid policy. To allow time in the office to have the greatest impact, ‘office-based’ days are more like ‘team days’, where problem-solving, collaboration and discussion are actively encouraged.
There’s no definitive ‘one size fits all’ solution to the different styles of workplace. There’s a wide spectrum of approaches a company can take to maximise the productivity and job satisfaction of their team, and this needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure that it’s still having the best impact.
Q. What made you want to work in this sector?
A. I studied cultural sciences at university, then very quickly realised that the direct career opportunities weren’t something I particularly enjoyed. I took a role within Human Resources – as it was known back then (although nowadays Human Capital seems to be the more popular buzzword) – which was the best thing I could have done. It made me realise how many transferrable skills I had obtained, including a deep understanding of culture and diversity.
For years, I’ve worked in the fast-paced IT and financial services fields. Working within such tech companies has provided the foundation to my career, and kickstarted my eventual pathway to working in the insurtech industry. In my view, the pace of the IT industry combined with the heritage of the insurance sector is what makes insurtech so dynamic and interesting. It’s a great place to work.
I’d previously worked for a company which was a client of Genasys. I was impressed with the services offered by Genasys, and the dedicated and personable way they delivered their product. Fast forward a few years later after taking up roles in different industries, I eventually joined the Genasys team in 2021. I love the fact that our company has the personal feel and challenger-brand energy of a start-up, but the experience and knowledge of a large corporate firm. In my view, this strikes a great balance.
Q. Thus far, what has been your most significant or proudest achievement in your current or previous roles?
A. I love seeing people thrive in their careers and being a side-line cheerleader for them. This includes supporting new people through the onboarding process who go on to do great things at Genasys for our clients, through to providing training and development opportunities so that individuals can excel and make their professional mark. In my experience, superstars and true A-team members will always bloom when given a chance, and I love seeing their growth curve.
At Genasys, I’m proud of our team and our customer-first approach. We’re absolutely focused on delivering reliable, innovative insurance technology which is simple for our clients and their customers to use. Our drive is to positively change the way the sector does insurance, and to be a genuine partner to insurance businesses. As a result, we’ve built phenomenal, long-standing client relationships in the 25 years we’ve been operating. And for the most part, we are having fun at the same time!
As published by Modern Insurance Magazine here.
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