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Digital transformation in insurance: Top 16 chief digital officers to follow

Digital transformation in insurance: Top 16 chief digital officers to follow
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14 minutes

70% of all DT initiatives do not reach their goals. Of the $1.3 trillion that was spent on digital transformation in 2018, it was estimated that $900 billion went to waste. Why do some digital transformation efforts succeed and others fail?

One key element is the lack of strategic vision. After all, digital transformation is not about technology. Digital technologies provide possibilities for efficiency gains and revenue growth. But these gains are not guaranteed if the implementation doesn’t align with business goals.

If the organization lacks the right mindset to change, and the current organizational practices are flawed, digital transformation will further magnify those flaws. 

And that is precisely where the Chief Digital Officer comes in - providing leadership to organizations to ensure that digital transformation initiatives are ultimately successful and don’t fall flat.

Despite what many would think, the Chief Digital Officer, frequently, the CDO, is not an expert in digital technologies, but rather an expert on how digital technologies can be applied in the context of specific business requirements.

Traditionally, the insurance industry has been lagging behind in digital transformation initiatives. But the leading CDOs are here to change that. Here is the list of 16 CDOs in the insurance industry. Make sure to follow their progress to stay in the know of what the best of the best are doing.

Dave Chiaruttini

Chief Digital Officer, Liberty Mutual

Connect with Dave Chiaruttini on LinkedIn.

After earning his degree from Boston College Carroll School of Management, Chiaruttini joined Liberty Mutual in 2006. He has held several roles throughout his career with Liberty Mutual prior to becoming CDO, such as Claims General Manager, Vice President, and Senior Vice President.

One of the most important aspects of Chiaruttini's contribution to Liberty Mutual is the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. For example, Liberty Mutual leverages the in-house, custom-built AI tools that identify and analyze anomalies in legal bills the insurer receives. It also uses the internet of things (IoT), which can monitor automobile operation, weather and other conditions, enabling it to produce more accurate risk scores. 

Dr. Thomas Poeppe

Chief Digital Officer, AOK Bayern - Die Gesundheitskasse

Connect with Thomas Poeppe on LinkedIn.

Dr. Poeppe has only been CDO at AOK Bayern - Die Gesundheitskasse for five months, but has already made a big impact on the company. One of his top priorities has been to further the development of apps that support remote work and remote customer servicing, which has proven to be invaluable in today's world. Moreover, Poeppe has continued to invest in providing free health courses that can be taken by AOK members, having a positive impact on the health of the community.

Natalija Jovanovic

Chief Digital Officer, Sanofi Pasteur

Connect with Natalija Jovanovic on LinkedIn.

Jovanovic has been CDO of Sanofi for the past year. Through her efforts and collaboration with diverse teams, she oversaw the development of disruptive products. For example, her efforts have led to increased efficiency and a simpler process for participation in clinical trials. Under her leadership, Sanofi has partnered with innovative startups that have specialized in Big Data in order to improve the services offered through predictive insights.

Dave Brune

Chief Executive Officer (North America), Digital Partners, a Munich Re company

Connect with Dave Brune on LinkedIn.

Since earning his degree from the University of Notre Dame, Brune has established a strong career in insurance and disruptive technologies, spending the last four years leading the digital transformation at Munich Re Group through his role as the CEO at Digital Partners.

Brune’s efforts have been concentrated on helping traditional insurance companies navigate a digital world through strategic partnerships with insurtechs, fintech, scale-ups, disruptors and mature companies. 

Sean Ringsted

Chief Digital Officer, Chubb

Connect with Sean Ringsted on LinkedIn.

Sean Ringsted has been with Chubb for 16 years, filling such roles as Chief Actuary and Chief Risk officer. Ringsted is the primary leader of Chubb in its digital transformation. His other contributions were the development and implementation of the company's risk management processes using digital technology.

His comprehensive understanding of risk management is an invaluable asset in his current role as the CDO. His efforts have focused on using creative, data-driven solutions to solve existing problems within the company, leading to increased agility, improved efficiency and better customer experience.

Dr. Henna A Karna

EVP, Chief Data Officer, AXA

Connect with Henna A. Karna on LinkedIn.

Dr. Karna is AXA XL's Chief Data Officer who is responsible for its end-to-end digital/data strategy, design, execution, and business evolution. Her digital transformation mandate includes a comprehensive, holistic approach across talent/capabilities, technology/data, and processes/operational structure/engagement models. 

A recognized expert on user-centric, design thinking and digital strategist, Henna brings a combination of data, analytics, and digital foundation focused on business impact and user adoption.

Erik Aardalsbakke

Chief Operating Officer, Digital, AIG Germany bei AIG

Connect with Erik Aardalsbakke on LinkedIn.

Aardalsbakke has been the CDO at AIG for nearly three years. His efforts in AIG have involved the implementation of InsurTech driven innovations, leading to improved quality of service and better customer experience.

Puneet Bhasin

EVP, Global Chief Information Officer (CIO) & Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Unum

Connect with Puneet Bhasin on LinkedIn.

As both the CIO & CDO, Bhasin is responsible for leading the digital transformation of Unum. He brings with him his extensive experience leading organizations in the areas of Operations, P&L Management, Digital, Information Technology, Decision Analytics, Supply Chain, Logistics, Fleet Management, Customer Service, and Shared Services. 

His extensive experience in both the CIO and COO roles proves invaluable in the large-scale digital, analytics and technology-driven transformations that he is leading at Unum.

Steve Roberts

Vice President, Chief Information & Chief Digital Officer - External Customers, Anthem

Connect with Steve Roberts on LinkedIn.

Anthem (ANTM) is the 2nd largest US health insurance company with 41M members and $103 billion in annual revenue.

Roberts has been a CDO at Anthem for the past two years and has led the company through impressive initiatives. His efforts in digital transformation have led to the acquisition and integration of Beacon Health Options, driving a revenue increase for the company and improved services for customers. He also led new product and IT platform commercialization initiatives in advanced analytics, home health management and chronic kidney disease, and end-stage renal disease, among other multitudes of wide-ranging initiatives that you can read up on his LinkedIn profile.

Chetan Kandhari

Chief Digital Officer and Senior Vice President, Nationwide

Connect with Chetan Kandhari on LinkedIn.

Kandhari has been CDO at Nationwide for the past seven months, but has been with the company for four years. His efforts have led to the implementation of information technology programs, technical platforms, and corporate value increases.

With over 20 years of combined experience adding corporate value through the direction of information technology programs, creation of customized business solutions, and integration of complex technical platforms for multinational corporations, Kandhari is widely recognized in the industry for his ability to manage large-scale projects, drive innovation and digital transformations. 

Stephen Rhee

Chief Digital Officer, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co

Connect with Stephen Rhee on LinkedIn.

Rhee has been CDO for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for the past two years and has a strong foundation in fintech, which he used to capitalize on opportunities for the company. His major contribution to the company has been innovative data capturing and analytics that has led to improved customer experience.

Rhee is a growth-oriented executive, who strongly believes in the power of data. He leads digital strategies and transformations via digital customer experience, products, data and analytics that have a positive impact on the business and have been measured in revenue, renewals and NPS.

Mónica García Cristóbal

Chief Digital Business Officer, Mapfre

Connect with Mónica García Cristóbal on LinkedIn.

Cristóbal has been CDO at Mapfre for the past year. Her efforts have contributed to the improved telecommunications within the company, leading to improved data analytics and value capturing for the company.

Her mission is to develop Digital Insurance Business throughout the world for the MAPFRE Group, including "MAPFRE", "Verti" and "Insureandgo" brands, and direct relationships with customers or support to intermediaries in the digital environment.

Johannes Rath

Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Signal Iduna Gruppe

Connect with Johannes Rath on LinkedIn.

With more than 15 years of top executive, sales and transformation experience as well as an insight into new business development, Johannes Rath sees himself as a mediator between corporate culture and start-up mindset. 

Rath has been the CDO at Signal Iduna Gruppe for the past three years. His contribution to the company has been the encouragement and development of investments in fintech and insurtech sectors, leading to the company's digital transformation.

Reiner Martin Ströhle

Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Debeka

Connect with Reiner Martin Ströhle on LinkedIn.

Ströhle has been the CDO at Debeka for the past year. His efforts have involved encouraging investments in start-ups that focus on innovation in order to further the power of Debeka. Finding and promoting these investments has led to increased innovative capabilities of Debeka.


Anton Fatti

Chief Digital Officer, Discovery Limited

Connect with Anton Fatti on LinkedIn.

Fatti has been the CDO at Discovery Limited for the past three years, but has been employed with the company for seven years. He has contributed to product development by leveraging his wide range of skills in relation to technology, product management, and management consulting. This has led to a revolutionized digital transformation strategy for Discovery Limited, where Fattis is leading Discovery’s digital transformation strategy, leveraging experience in technology, management consulting and product development. 

Lydia Lee

Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Swiss Life AG

Connect with Lydia Lee on LinkedIn.

Lee has been the CDO at Swiss Life AG for the past two years. Her efforts led to the development of tools for agents designed to improve the experience for customers. 

She is focused on digital transformation solutions and business process optimization. She has simplified, streamlined and redesigned processes to accelerate the onboarding of new sales partners and introduced new digital customer journeys for rapid conclusion of insurance contracts.


Binay Agarwala

Chief Of Staff - Group Chief Digital Officer, Prudential plc

Connect with Binay Agarwala on LinkedIn.

Agarwala has worked as the CDO for Prudential PLC for the past year. One of his strongest accomplishments was laying the groundwork for a new operation model for the Groupwide Technology and Digital function, which has been active across international borders in Asia, India, and the United States.

Agarwala created a roadmap that led to ecosystem development for customer experience improvement and onboarded start-ups that turbocharged the new system. Through the efforts of Agarwala, Prudential has been propelled into the future through digital transformation, leading to changes in how the company does business and how customers experience its services.

All hail the CDO!

Driving change is not an easy task. Each and every person in the list above have contributed in a significant way to bringing the insurance industry forward. The digital transformation within the insurance industry has been slow compared to other industries, but there is no denial Chief Digital Officers are leading to rapid advancement and innovation within the industry. 

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Vera Smirnoff
Vera Smirnoff

Vera Smirnoff is the demand generation manager at EasySend. She covers digital transformation in insurance and banking and the latest trends in InsurTech and digital customer experience.