5 Questions: Mojgan Lefebvre, EVP and chief technology and operations officer of Travelers

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It’s been just about one year since Mojgan Lefebvre joined Travelers from Liberty Mutual, succeeding Madelyn Lankton in the CIO position. While CIO of the global specialty group at Liberty, Lefebvre gained a reputation for effectiveness in innovation and implementation of advanced digital capabilities, as well as championing women in technology and insurance. In 2017, she was honored as one of Digital Insurance’s Women in Insurance Leadership. Now EVP and chief technology and operations officer, she spoke to DI about her plans for her new role in an interview late this summer. An edited version follows.

Digital Insurance: Why did you feel it was time to take on a new challenge in your career?
Mojgan Lefebvre: Travelers has an amazing reputation in the world of insurance; it's recognized as a leader in underwriting with a history of strong performance. In learning more about the organization through the interview process, I found out the company has a robust strategy in place to address the forces of change and disruption that’s going on in the world – from the customer, agent and broker expectations of a seamless digital experience to the impact of the explosion of data and new technologies. Learning that Travelers’ focus on innovation includes customer experience, risk expertise, and efficiency and effectiveness, I realized that not only is the company focused on performance, it is also focused on transformation; and technology and data would play a critical role in this transformation. These are all the reasons I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

DI: What are some of the strategies that you’ll be taking on to meet that challenge?
ML: We’re a company that’s been around over 160 years, and, similar to other established companies, we have built many IT solutions during that time. The way IT was built and worked in the past is very different than the way it needs to be leveraged today to create the types of experiences our customers, agents, brokers and employees expect from us. In today’s world, technology enables everything, not only the back office, but also all customer and front-end interactions. We are therefore focused on continuing to modernize our technology platforms from policy management to customer relationship management, evolving the way we work to be more agile, going from project focus to product focus, and going to an engineering mindset, where instead of translating requirements into code, we have engineers who work hand-in-hand with the business to create solutions based on business outcomes. And we’re leveraging this to inform how we interact with our customers, agents, brokers and employees to create frictionless digital experiences.

DI: How do you organize and focus the company toward that goal in a way that both keeps competitiveness and service levels high for the existing market and prepares for the future?
ML: We talk about everything along two axes, perform and transform. We know that our day-to-day operations and the stability and security of our existing solutions are the foundation of what we do. But we also know that, to move the company forward, we have to think differently and use innovative approaches. Our multi-functional teams are organized around business outcomes that are aligned to our business strategies, and the teams’ success is measured on those outcomes. We stay close to emerging technologies, and through customer journeys and design thinking we are bringing the necessary visibility into ensuring that we’re building for the future.

DI: How does this change the way you look at hiring and recruiting?
ML: We continue to build and expand our engineering capabilities. Knowing that we’re competing with Amazon, Google, and startups for the same talent from software engineers to data scientists and cyber experts. We’re therefore putting a huge emphasis both on upskilling, reskilling, and recruiting and building our engineering staff.

DI: How will you continue your work advocating for women in tech and in insurance at Travelers?
ML: I’m staying active with the Grace Hopper organization, as well as Girls Who Code. I also sponsor our Women in Technology and Operations group, a division of one of our company’s Diversity Networks. We’ve done hackathons with local colleges, brought learning programs like Python 101 to the enterprise, and work with local schools to encourage young girls to join STEM programs. We’re working on a lot of new cool ideas.

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Travelers CIO