Larissa Tosch combines IT acumen and business savvy
A job fair brought Larissa Tosch on board at Glatfelter Insurance Group as a COBOL developer in 1999, as the carrier recruited programmers to ready its core systems for Y2K. Almost two decades later, she serves as CIO and VP of IT for the organization, helping business leaders embrace the added value technology can bring to day-to-day operations.
“Our relationship is an alliance. We’re going to succeed or fail together,” says Tosch. “They don’t like being told how to do business, and rightfully so. But if we don’t leverage technology, we potentially limit business capabilities.”
Tosch has been committed to making a leaner IT organization since her ascension to her current role, working to streamline Glatfelter’s infrastructure, security, data and applications. She led the conversion of Glatfelter’s physical data servers to virtual as one of her first major projects, in partnership with the company’s infrastructure leader. The company ended up reducing the size of its data center by half, resulting in lower costs associated with cooling servers and electricity. It also helped the IT department come in 4% under budget in the last fiscal year.
In addition, Tosch’s work on information security has reduced security incidents by a whopping 83%. Among her multifaceted work in this area are projects implementing dual factor authentication, website filtering, email link and attachment scanning, lateral detection, network access controls, privileged threat analysis, and security awareness training sessions for all employees.
But it’s her expertise in core systems modernization that’s defined her career. Tosch has overseen several major core revamps in the past decade — even before she was formally made CIO.
She led the replacement of Glatfelter’s policy administration and billing systems with Insurity as director of applications in 2005 — before updating the billing software again four years later. Glatfelter has similar plans to redo its policy software in the coming months. The company also is currently in the middle of a claims project, expected to conclude early next year.
Tosch believes transparency is the key to internal staff working together to modernize operations. As a member of Glatfelter’s executive leadership team, Tosch participates in the development of the company’s business strategy and is tasked with ensuring the IT infrastructure falls in line with set objectives. Before every deployment, her team meets with business leaders to explain the anticipated impacts on individual units.
“The business knowledge I’ve gained is somewhat unusual for a technologist,” she says. “I’ve pushed the rest of my people to learn about the business as well.”
Making it easy
Other upcoming projects for Tosch and her team of 74 include the implementation of imaging software in claims, adding predictive analytics to underwriting and introducing basic levels of automation for straight-through processing.
“It won’t be ‘no touch,’ but we want to make it [less manual],” says Tosch. “We have a collective goal to improve ease of doing business for agents, by making our internal operations more efficient.”
When the 19-year industry veteran is not running Glatfelter’s technology environment, she is mentoring young minds inside the organization.
A York College of Pennsylvania graduate, Tosch also participates in the Pennsylvania Distinguished Young Women program, which offers scholarships to female college students.
“I don’t think that strength comes from what you can do. Strength comes from doing things you thought you couldn’t,” she says when asked what she tells young people she works with. Reflecting on her efforts to learn the business side of insurance, she adds: “For technologists, that means we must always challenge what we thought impossible.”