Speakers List - Digital Insurance World

Keynote Speakers

Robin von Hein

founder and CEO


Robin von Hein is founder and CEO of the simplesurance group, which is based in Berlin since 2012.
Only five years later, Robin and his company belong to the most successful in Germany. Internationally,
simplesurance is gaining more relevance. In 2016, simplesurance was awarded as the best insurtech
startup in the Silicon Valley, the melting point of digital companies and innovation. The German
economy magazine Capital counts Robin to the Top 40 under 40 and Handelsblatt, German Financial
Daily Newspaper, says Robin belongs to the Top 100 of the most innovative people in Germany who
drive Germany's progress forward. simplesurance is among the 15 top funded insurtech companies.
More than 150 employees from 30 different nations work together to revolutionize the distribution of

Robin von Hein has profound knowledge of the insurance industry. He has been working in the
insurance industry for many years: He has qualification as banker and has studied business
administration with a major in insurance management in Frankfurt. During his studies he worked at a
traditional insurance agency, where he developed risk analysis and insurance solutions for companies
and especially startups. After his graduation in 2011, Robin moved to St. Gallen in Switzerland to work
in the area of investment management and controlling for a big Swiss management consultancy.

In the beginning of 2012, Robin was looking for a new challenge. His business came during his travels
in South Africa, where people could purchase life insurance via SMS. Back in Germany, Robin founded
his company, the simplesurance group in May 2012. simplesurance innovates the way people see and
buy insurance. The startup connects the traditional insurance industry with innovative technology by
developing and distributing cross-selling software solutions for e-commerce. Online shops integrate
the solution into their shopping basket and enable their customers to purchase product insurance with
just one click. The simplesurance group is first mover for digital insurance solutions. In 2016, the
startup has extended its service to offer a broker app that allows the digital management of insurance

Panel Speakers

Cheryl Agius


Legal & General

Cheryl Agius is CEO of the General Insurance business.

Cheryl oversees the general insurance business that protects over 1.2 million customers in their lifestyle through household, pet and travel insurance and providing appropriate claims payments at the critical moments of need in our customers' lives.

Cheryl was previously Head of UK Strategic, Retirement Pension Risk Transfer where she was responsible for large Pension Risk Transfer transactions and solutions for defined benefit pension schemes and back book transactions.

Prior to this UK role, Cheryl set up our US Retirement business securing our first landmark transaction for $430m in 2015. Cheryl joined L&G in 2011 having previously worked for over 20 years in the pensions and insurance industry. Cheryl is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries.

Juan de Castro

chief operating officer


Juan de Castro is the Chief Operating Officer for Hiscox UK and Ireland where he leads the on-going operational transformation of the business. Juan joined Hiscox in 2014 as Group Head of Strategy and Corporate Development. Prior to that, he spent four years at McKinsey in their Silicon Valley office, and 10 years working in the high tech industry in Europe. He holds an MSc in Computer Engineering and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

John O’Roarke

former managing director


John has over 30 years' experience in the insurance industry. He began his insurance career with AIG, spending six years overseas in AIG's EMEA Division and subsequently in New York. He returned to the UK in 1990 to join newly-launched Churchill Insurance as Finance Director. He subsequently became Managing Director and led the development of the company to become a £2bn+ turnover business and the UK's most recognised insurance brand. Following Churchill's takeover by RBS he became COO of the combined Direct Line and Churchill business. He left in 2005 to found ABC Insurance with a group of former Churchill/Direct Line colleagues. Following ABC's sale to Liverpool Victoria he became CEO of LV= General Insurance and led the transformation of that business to become the UK's 3rd largest car insurer and the UK's most recommended insurer.

John is a founding partner in ABC Investors which is an investment consortium set up to invest in both early-start and established financial services businesses. He is currently also Chairman of Horwich Farrelly, one of the UK's leading insurance defendant law firms, and Chairman of CAPS Consortium, part of the Enterprise (USA) Holdings Group. John is also a Senior Adviser to DirectAsia.com which is the Asian subsidiary of Hiscox.

John has spent 10 years as a member of the ABI's General Insurance Council and has chaired both the ABI Financial Crime Committee and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.


Kevin Thompson


Insurance Ireland

Current Position: CEO of Insurance Ireland, the representative body for the Irish insurance, reinsurance and captive management industry.

Insurance Ireland represents almost 140 companies in an industry employing 28,000 people directly and indirectly. Kevin has led the industry's response to Brexit by acting as the liaison point between the industry and the Irish Government, the Irish regulator and international stakeholders.

Kevin has also led the development of an InsurTech ecosystem in Ireland through forming industry partnerships with academic institutions, professional services firms, Government agencies and start up incubators.

Prior to his current role, Kevin worked as a consultant with companies based in Ireland, UK & Norway, helping devise and implement change programs within their organisations. He also held the role of CEO of Alico Life International and held senior executive positions within Allianz Worldwide Care, Citigroup & Lincoln Financial, working both in Ireland and the UK.

Kevin holds a Dip Sports Psychology and a MSc Management Practice in Strategy & Transformation from University College Cork and received executive training in leadership and strategic management at the University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School. He has also received a "Record of Achievement Award" from the Insurance Institute of Ireland and the Tony Dromgoole Award of Distinction from the Irish Management Institute. Kevin is also a Certified Insurance Director from the Insurance Institute of Ireland.



David Williams

technical director

AXA Insurance

David has over 30 years' experience in General Insurance, roles including Chief Commercial Underwriter at one of AXA's largest branches, Reinsurance Manager, Casualty Insurance Manager, before moving to claims in 2003. After leading AXA's Personal & Commercial Claims Teams, David returned to Underwriting as Managing Director, Underwriting, and now has a broader role reporting in to CEO Brendan McCafferty, as part of the newly recombined AXA general insurance businesses in the UK

He was heavily involved in the government and ABI responses to the ‘Liability Crisis' way back just after the Access to Justice Act, and continues his lobbying work as the insurance industry looks to remove unnecessary costs and delay from the current adversarial compensation process. He is an outspoken critic of Claims Farming, Credit Hire, High Legal Costs and exaggerated Whiplash Claims.

As well as operating at an Executive level within AXA Insurance, David is a Non Executive Director of AXA Assistance UK, Vice President of the CII and Chair of the CII Underwriting Faculty. He is Chair of the recently formed Autonomous Driving Insurance Group and RISCAuthority, was previously a member of the National Stakeholder Council for the Governments ‘Workplace Health Connect' initiative during its currency, and was a Director of Thatcham, the Insurance Industry Motor Vehicle Research Institute for four years.

He is a member of various AXA Group Boards and has represented the UK on Asbestos, Health, Pollution and Fraud issues. He speaks regularly at conferences and other events in the UK and Europe on a variety of subjects including most recently, improving customer service, flooding, climate change, Big Data & Driverless cars

David has also appeared on BBC Breakfast TV, Sky, Channel 4 and BBC News, as well as Radio 4's ‘Today' Programme, being interviewed on topics varying from Compensation Culture to Business Crime.



Kate Astall

head of digital marketing

Zurich Insurance

In her 10 years in industry Kate has worked in a variety of agency and client side roles, most recently as Head of Digital Marketing for Zurich.
In her previous roles she worked on major digital campaigns for consumer brands such as Asda, Revolution Bars and Vodafone, as well as working on B2B Digital Strategy.

Kate's current world is focused on running the brand new Digital Marketing team at Zurich and spans UX, web content, digital analytics, search and campaign management.

Vivek Banga

chief digital officer

Arthur J Gallagher

Vivek joined Arthur J. Gallagher in 2013. He has more than a decade's experience of developing online trading strategy and distribution for a range of UK-based general insurance companies, especially for SME products, and has worked extensively with brokers and technology organisations. At Gallagher, Vivek has a company-wide brief to develop digital business opportunities, leveraging the group's strengths in both broking and underwriting operations.

Prior to joining Gallagher, Vivek served as head of UK distribution at Brit Insurance, with a remit that encompassed the insurer's entire e-business portfolio, and moved to head up e-business development in Canada for QBE following its acquisition of Brit's UK business.

Before arriving at Brit in 2010 he spent seven years working for NIG, within the Direct Line Group, first as head of ecommerce, then head of business development for its commercial and broker business.


Raphaël Caruso

head of innovation lab UK-NEUR

Euler Hermes Digital Agency

After four years spent in the investment industry as an equity research analyst - Head of the European Insurance Sector - for a US equity broker, Raphael joined Direct Line Group's corporate strategy team in 2014. Passionate about emerging technologies, he has worked on several tech. projects such as analysing the impact of driverless cars on the insurance industry and has been in charge of articulating DLG's FinTech investment and partnership strategy before joining Euler Hermes Digital Agency as Innovation Evangelist - Head of Innovation Lab UK/NEUR at the end of 2016. His role is now to prototype, develop and test new propositions and to identify disruptive start-ups in the Credit Insurance and Trade Finance space.

Glen Clarke

head of transformational proposition


Glen joined the insurance industry in 2009 after previously working for British Airways. He joined Allianz as a consultant, to support taking Allianz's direct car and home product to market and soon after helped shape Petplan's product and distribution strategy. In 2012, Glen moved into the role of corporate partner strategy manager where he was a key member of the team developing the motor manufacturer partnerships accounts.

In 2014 he was promoted to the position of head of telematics where his responsibilities were to develop and deliver customer telematics propositions.

Following a restructure of Allianz's trading areas in April 2016, Glen was promoted to the position of head of transformational propositions where he is responsible for the design and development of next generation propositions across all lines of business.

Glen also works closely with the Allianz Group digital transformation team, which includes Allianz's Global Digital Factory, Global Strategic Partnership and Allianz x, the business building and investment arm of Allianz.


Mike Downing

chief technology officer

WPA Group

Mike has worked in technology development and innovation at WPA for 18 years. His varied academic background includes a degree in Business Computer Science, an MSc in International Financial Management and an MBA. Mike is a strong advocate of Agile practices, being qualified in both Scrum and Kanban.
Prior to joining WPA, Mike worked across Europe and in a wide range of industries and organisations including retail, banking, software, the European Space Agency and the United Nations. Mike strives to keep WPA at the leading edge of technology disruption, by continually implementing solutions that drive the business forward and deliver a competitive advantage. Mike has specialist interests in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy

CEO / founder


CEO/Founder @TapolyUK | InsurTech | Gig Economy | Sharing Economy
Creator of Tapoly, the first on-demand insurance for the gig economy in Europe.
Former investment banking professional and chartered accountant. I have worked for top-tier investment banks such as UBS, JPMorgan, and Deutsche Bank. I am one of the authors of The InsurTECH Book. I also sit on the board of Bidnord, a Swedish based digital HR solution.

Parul Kaul-Green

head of m&a and innovation


Parul is Head of M&A and Innovation at AXA UK. She is responsible for inorganic and innovation strategy across general insurance, health, and asset management businesses. Parul is a member of the AXA UK Seed Fund Investment committee which invests in fintech, insurtech and digital health start-ups for the AXA Group. She is also a mentor at The Duke of York Pitch@Palace and Mayor of London's International Business Partnering Programme and is on the judge's panel for FinTech 50 Europe and Disrupt 100. Parul is member of Women in Investing and Careers Advisory group of CFA Institute.

Tim Kunde

co-founder and managing director


Tim graduated with a Masters in International Management. He started his career with The Boston Consulting Group, advising various companies on consumer goods and insurance matters. At Friendsurance he is responsible for IT, product, customer support, CRM, marketing and communications.



Ken Marke

head of strategic futures


Ken has spent over 30 years in the insurance industry in the UK, Europe and Asia mainly in corporate and strategic development roles. As Head of Strategic Futures, his focus is on identifying long term trends through systematic horizon scanning and scenario development. Through this, Ken helps Ageas anticipate future opportunities and plan for longer term disruption. The main objective of his role is to help the business avoid the question "why didn't we see that coming".

John O'Sullivan


24-7 Ideas

Adam Rates

head of strategy and architecture

Allianz UK

Adam is the head of Strategy and Architecture for Allianz UK. He has 20 years' experience working with technology across all aspects of the Insurance industry. He is passionate about the capability of technology to provide organisations with the insight and capability to meet the needs of their customers and drive business improvement.

Jonathan Roomer

co-founder and cco

yu life

Jonathan is a co-founder & CCO of yu life - a wellbeing company reinventing insurance.

Jonathan started his career as an entrepreneur and after many "almost successes" and one successful venture he decided that being an entrepreneur wasn't exciting enough. So, he completed an MBA, became an Actuary and eventually decided to head back to the entrepreneurial world.

Prior to yu life, Jonathan led the early-stage segment of KPMG's Tech Growth team. He consulted over 200 startups on getting from Seed to Series A and beyond.

Jonathan is a Fellow of the Instituted and Faculty of Actuaries and a guest lecturer at Imperial College Business School.



Brigitte Small



Peter Townsend

group head of financial crime


Peter is group head of financial crime at RSA, having taken on the role in 2016. He joined RSA in 2012 as legal counsel. Prior to working at RSA, Peter was a corporate lawyer at City solicitors Berwin Leighton Paisner.

As well as overseeing RSA's financial crime framework, Peter has responsibility for data protection within RSA's Group Corporate Centre in London. This includes work being carried out in preparation for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Barry Webb

senior manager digital optimisation

BGL Group

Barry Webb is Head of Digital Optimisation for BGL Customer Services contact centres, with responsibility for defining and delivering customer service strategy across all channels of engagement. A customer experience specialist, he has worked for BGL for the past 20 years and has extensive knowledge of customer contact strategy and technology.

Barry has played a key role in the deployment and development of BGL's award-winning speech analytics capability, and the Group's highly effective virtual assistant, alongside more traditional contact centre capabilities such as webchat and telephony service. BGL is currently exploring new opportunities using AI and intelligent assistants.

Jenny Williams

Accelerate Partner

XL Catlin

Phil Williams

group director

Simply Business

Phil Williams is a member of the management team of Simply Business the UK's original insuretech; founded in 2005 Simply Business provides business insurance to over 430k SME's with offices in the UK and USA. Phil has held a number of roles at Simply Business, covering operations, claims, change, strategy and pricing; his current remit as Group Integration Director covers group change and strategic projects following the business' $490m sale to Travelers Inc.

Prior to Simply Business, Phil spent a decade in insurance businesses such as BGL Group during comparethemarket.com's founding and was part of the management team that divested Capita's insurance businesses in 2013. Phil holds an MBA from the Cranfield School of Management and is currently a member of the Practice Advisory Board of the Cranfield MBA; he is a Chartered Insurer and mentor on the Startupbootcamp insurtech accelerator.


Digital Activists

Andrew Rear

chief executive, digital partners

Munich Re

Andrew Rear, chief executive, digital partners, Munich Re

"I'm just trying to live in the future, in an industry that lives in the past"

First computer: ZX Spectrum

First mobile phone: Nokia 1610 - the one before the classic Nokia

First job: Barman, waiter and part-time film extra

Digital hero: Clive Sinclair

Best thing about your current job: The pace and vision of our start-up partners

Last time you wore a tie: When I go to our head office in Munich (mostly to ask for money...)

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Fixed-line telephony

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Regretting it


Andy Ford

senior business architect


Andy Ford, senior business architect, QBE

Bill Gates once said: "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." As an industry if only we applied those rules our customers' experience would be so much better, both service and price-wise.

First computer: Sinclair ZX81

First mobile phone: A Nokia brick

First job: Engineering Insurance Underwriting Clerk (would be called Underwriting Assistant these days I guess)

Digital hero: Where would we be without Sir Tim

Best thing about your current job: Varied, interesting, shaping

Last time you wore a tie: At my daughter's wedding a couple of weeks ago

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?  A shiny piece of tech at the heart of which is one of those old counting machines with big buttons and a lever. Harsh, but... ?

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Routine stuff

Bea Montoya

marketing channels director

Simply Business

Bea Montoya, marketing channels director, Simply Business

"Don't be scared of failing. Learn from failures, iterate and try again (with a smile on your face)."

First computer: It was a Spectrum, with rubber keys and uploads that happened via tapes ... for the record I was very, very young the first time I used it!

First mobile phone: I can't even remember the brand but I remember it was bulky and heavy (and at the time I was very proud.)

First job: I started in marketing as a teenager ... helping a brand in Spain get some local attention (i.e giving out leaflets outside my local newsagent. It was actually pretty fun!)

Digital hero: Lyssa Adkins - Agile all the way!
I'd also like to mention Amancio Ortega, the man behind Zara. In the 70's he created a company that disrupted a giant, established industry, putting customer feedback at the heart of the organisation. The use of data, testing, Agile processes and in-store technology has allowed him to create one of the world's best-loved retailers. A hero to say the least.

Best thing about your current job: Our customers. Small businesses are so passionate about what they do and they're always happy to get involved and help us shape our products, services and ethos.

Last time you wore a tie: It must be at least five years ago (fancy dress party ... I was Hermione Granger!)

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?
A BlackBerry (remember those???). - Functional, reliable but if it doesn't start moving with the times and its customer needs, it'll be pushed aside by others who do.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?
Working for Yotam Ottolenghi (or at least aspiring to do so!)

Cameron Shearer


Digital Risks

Cameron Shearer, CEO, Digital Risks

Sticklers for compliance greet new ideas with what "can't be done". Challenge what lies behind the status-quo - that's where true innovation begins!

First computer: Amiga Commodore 64, there was something very satisfying about pressing those keys.

First mobile phone: Ericsson GH 388 I think - No games, no texts, just good old-fashion calls.

First job: Working with the IT and engineering guys at my Dad's company - all super smart, all innovators.

Digital hero: There are so many new concepts and ideas that blow my mind on a daily bases - I could have a hero of the hour!
Best thing about your current job: The new challenges my team overcome everyday!
Last time you wore a tie: Ummm ... can't remember.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?
A pocket watch. Many moving, complex parts. Does the job. Room for improvement.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?
Anything new and exciting!

Charlie Blackburn

chief technology officer


Charlie Blackburn, chief technology officer, Azur

First computer: Lent a Compaq III aka the ‘lunchbox', in 1987 so I could work at the weekend

First mobile phone: Motorola Flip phone

First job: John Brown Engineering

Digital hero: Marc Benioff

Best thing about your current job: Learning new stuff

Last time you wore a tie: For lunch at the City of London club (they had to lend me one)

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A sextant, brilliant in its time but there are better tools today

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Anything useful

Crawfurd Hill

head of digital innovation

Co-op Insurance

Crawfurd Hill, head of digital innovation, Co-op Insurance

This too shall pass

First computer: Amstrad PCW 1512 twin floppy 512K with lovely green screen, MS DOS. The PC version of Gene Hunt's Quattro.

First mobile phone: The original and Dom Joly favourite - the Motorola 8000x on the Celnet network. Genius and obnoxious.

First job: PR exec and photocopy runner for Sterling PR. Worked on the Dell account for the man himself.

Digital hero: Hmm. I like what Jeff Sutherland kickstarted with the agile manifesto, and I love what the guys at Spotify are doing - and our very own Scots at Skyscanner. Closer to home, loving what Cuvva and Rightindem are up to.

Best thing about your current job: Working with some of the best digital people around with huge ambition and aligning this with an organisation - Co-op - with a passion to be a 21st century mutual/cooperative.

Last time you wore a tie: Can't remember. Actually, a fancy dress 80's party. I recall it was a foot wide kipper. The sartorial version of a straitjacket.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? An analogue version of a TV with two channels, eight hours a day and a test card for "out of hours".

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? A ski guide in La Grave or a helicopter pilot in Valdez. In my dreams.

Darius Kumana



Darius Kumana, co-founder, Wrisk

"It is no surprise that the youth of today are disenchanted with the insurance industry. Corporates riddled with complexity, selling yesterday's products with yesterday's tools for those living yesterday's lifestyles. It is long overdue for a radical re-think so that it can deliver products and services that they feel part of and want to buy."

First computer: A Kaypro II. My childhood is full of fond memories scouring the backstreets of Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong for hardware and software and trying to learn as much about technology as I could. The more I learnt, the more I began to realise that the tech wasn't actually the interesting bit.... it was really understanding people, their motivations and their pain-points - then thinking about the ways technology could be creatively applied to solve real problems.

First mobile phone: Nokia 3310 - I loved Snake. (My 10 year old daughter recently coded a version of it on her Kano - It turns out I'm still pretty good!)

First job: Many years ago I left the confines of academia (where I was looking at the applications of virtual reality to low cost internet conferencing) to start a job as a front-end engineer for a top technical consultancy.

Digital hero: Ada Lovelace. She saw further into the future than any of her male counterparts. Able to see the beautiful human potential in all those 1s and 0s...

Best thing about your current job: We are currently in the early stages of shaping our proposition. There are so many different avenues to explore and so many opportunities to add tangible customer-focused value. Every day is different and we are constantly learning and meeting great people. Each day makes us more excited about the potential impact we can have to benefit the industry.

Last time you wore a tie: I met someone in the lobby of Lloyd's just before Christmas to find out more about their plans for an innovation hub.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? "A faster horse." ;-)

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Teaching mixed-martial arts full time. (At the moment I only get to teach on evenings and weekends)


Dylan Bourguignon



Dylan Bourguignon, CEO, so-sure

First computer: Apple II E

First mobile phone: Sagem RD 900

First job: Summer intern as Grain & Financial Reporter for Bridge News

Digital hero: Joe Gebbia

Best thing about your current job: Changing insurance for the better

Last time you wore a tie: At a friend's wedding

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A ball & chain made of lead

How can we create trusting customers? By rethinking insurance. This is why so-sure created Social Insurance.   

Freddy Macnamara



Freddy Macnamara, founder, Cuvva

In the words of Nike "Just do it"

First computer: I think it was an IBM Thinkpad (circa 1998)

First mobile phone: The classic Nokia 3310.

First job: Oh it was very, very menial but on the plus side it gave me time to think.

Digital hero: Can I take the digital part out? I'd say Elon Musk either way. From PayPal and Tesla to SpaceX; what's not to admire?

Best thing about your current job: We are doing something that has not ever really been done before. So, it's an exciting time for us, while simultaneously terrifying as there isn't really a handbook we can refer to.

Last time you wore a tie: A few weeks ago.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be?
It's a tricky question. I did hear it described as a "Flying Shuttle" Loom; in the sense that it is perfectly designed for its initial purpose but market demand and expectations have changed. We need to embrace the benefits of digital and refine the tools we are working with in order to keep up.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution?
Permissionless innovation has no leader. It's not so much about having one person who will drive things forward, as it is about making a collective decision; that, with digital, we are able to change things for the better.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing?
I really don't know. One of the great things about our business, and the speed of change in the digital industry as a whole, is we don't get an awful lot of time to think about what could have been.

Gordon Rutherford

head of marketing & e-commerce

AXA Business Insurance

Gordon Rutherford, head of marketing & e-commerce, AXA Business Insurance

First computer: Advent PC

First mobile phone: Nokia something

Digital hero: Maybe obvious, but Steve Jobs. Why? When he returned to Apple they ran ads that talked all about the product (a metal box with components that processed things). He scrapped that and made it all about aspiration, lifestyle and how the product makes people feel. He then tapped into the consumer zeitgeist and developed the most desirable products.

Best thing about your current job: The pace and the level of empowerment and creativity to get things done.

Last time you wore a tie: Last Thursday at our CEO's Leadership Day

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A pre-digital camera. The world is changing all around, but we are kinda drifting along oblivious. Although, some insurers will develop digital cameras just in time.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Rock Star/Author. Or hobo.

The biggest challenge for insurance sector? Failing to understand how consumers are changing and how they buy and consume products & services. They rule, we don't. Most FS companies don't get that yet.


Jacob Abboud

chief information officer

Allianz Insurance

Jacob Abboud, chief information officer, Allianz Insurance

Digital is not IT, it is a cultural & business mind-set placing the customer at the heart of everything we do

First computer: BBC Micro

First mobile phone: Nokia - the real brick!

First job: Research Officer at Bath University

Digital hero: Elon Musk. He made game-changing contributions to the application of digital & other technologies

Best thing about your current job: Enabling and adding value to the business. Championing digital-by-default and data transformation at Allianz both locally and also globally working with my Group colleagues.

Last time you wore a tie: I tend to wear a tie to formal meetings which sadly tend to be fairly frequent

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Can I compare to transport? - It is like my commute to work; I have to walk to the station, get on a train, hop on a tube before I conclude my ‘seamless' and ‘one stop' optimised journey ! It is getting better though driven by digitalisation and customer-centricity...

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? An entrepreneur - I've had involvement with start-ups...



Jaime Swindle

director broker eTrade


Jamie Swindle, director broker eTrade, NIG

Exciting times lay ahead for our industry as we put our customer at the heart of digital innovation. I can't wait to be a part of it!

First computer: Does a sega master system count?

First mobile phone: Ericsson A1018s - I think I still have it in a box somewhere.

First job: I worked in a newsagents whilst at school but my first Insurance role was as a trainee in a small Personal Lines brokerage when I left school.

Digital hero: I respect anyone who brings a fresh perspective and new ideas to an industry that will benefit the customer.

Best thing about your current job: My team

Last time you wore a tie: I've never worn a tie.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? That faithful piece of technology that can be found in every home that you couldn't do without.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? I'd still be in the Insurance industry! It is an industry with so many opportunities for people to make their mark and implement some great ideas.


James York



James York, innovator-at-large, Worry+Peace

"Insurance is the glue that binds economies, digitisation demands we proactively unleash a new cross-industry covenant for all our customers"

First computer: Amiga 3000 (but used BBCs at school). I remember playing a New Zealand Story, but we didn't really grasp the importance of computers in my generation's education. Code? Huh? #curriculumfail

First mobile phone: Nokia 5110

First job: I worked in a garden centre as the dogsbody for £2 an hour. My duties involved carrying bags of manure, stocking plant supplies, picking weeds from shingle (with no gloves on) and mowing the lawns.

Digital hero: Stephen Wolfram

Best thing about your current job: Imagination, I don't have to ask permission to dream. The only barrier is resources.

Last time you wore a tie: I wear a tie about once a week. The tie is NOT the enemy, attitude is.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? An elevator.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution? Presume we can't say ourselves? So, erm, it must be someone else? Really? Ok. Whatever. (James Dyson)

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Sports & Sports Apparel business.

Jon Mansley

head of digital strategy


Jon Mansley, head of digital strategy, LV

Juan de Castro

chief operating officer

Hiscox UK

Juan de Castro, chief operating officer, Hiscox UK

Leigh Calton

head of proposition development


Leigh Calton, former head of proposition development, Ageas

First computer: BBC micro

First mobile phone: One2One

First job: Marketing manager for a removal firm

Digital hero: Clive Sinclair - products that were way ahead of time

Best thing about your current job: The opportunity to explore, predict and help create the future

Last time you wore a tie: A few weeks ago - in the right environment they still have their place

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A robodog - lots of automation, but a bit stilted in its movement and sometimes misunderstanding what people want it to do

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Living the dream in a marketing career

Mark Collins


Vitality Health

Mark Collins, CIO, Vitality Health

First computer: ZX80 – that makes me old.

First mobile phone: Nokia

First job: Stacking lollies in a sweet factory.

Digital hero: Don’t really have one although I admire Elon Musk for how he is revolutionising Space Exploration and the Electric Car market at the same time.

Best thing about your current job: Being able to really show how the use of digital technology and thinking can create new opportunities and add real business value.

Last time you wore a tie: At my wedding a couple of years ago –my mum was shocked.

Mike Downing

chief technology officer

WPA Group

Mike Downing, chief technology officer, WPA Group

"The best way to predict the future is to create it.", Peter Drucker

First computer: ZX Spectrum

First mobile phone: Philips Fizz

First job: Brick Layer

Digital hero: Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup"

Best thing about your current job: A great mixture of disruption, innovation and technology in a forward thinking environment.

Last time you wore a tie: Every workday

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A robotic vacuum cleaner, trying its best to improve what it does yet restricted by its own limitations.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Finding other ways to drive and influence change.

Paul Heybourne

global innovation, research & demonstration lab manager


Paul Heybourne, global innovation, research & demonstration lab manager, Aviva

First computer: The fantastic Spectrum 48k with those annoying rubber keys - it's the device that introduced me to the world of coding.

First mobile phone: The Nokia 101, back in the very early 90's - I remember it used to really weigh down my jeans pocket!

First job: Handling insurance claims - I loved this direct contact with customers at a time when we deliver the proof point of our product. The experience has stuck with me and helps me keep the customer at the centre of everything I do.

Digital hero: I have long been a fan of Steve Jobs, way before it was cool to like Steve Jobs. His complete obsession with simplicity and user experience, (our industry can learn a lot from that) and of course those Keynotes - his delivery is superb.

Best thing about your current job: Creating the conditions for the best ideas to be taken from someone's head to being tested with customers.

Last time you wore a tie: At a friend's wedding, It was the same day I got my Apple Watch, which I hadn't realised you had to put on silent and it rang just at the moment when the registrar asked if ‘anyone knows of any lawful impediment...'

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? The cloud - you know it's their protecting your stuff...you just can't see it. Or the original Blackberry - does some great stuff just not operating to the best of its potential.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Connecting people and connecting technology solutions with business problems - it's in my DNA.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution and why? Me - Surely I wouldn't qualify for being an Insurance Activist if I said anyone else would I??!

Phoebe Hugh

co-founder & CEO


Phoebe Hugh, co-founder & CEO, Brolly

Hope is not a strategy.

First computer: A Power Macintosh from the mid-1990s, on which I spent many hours playing Descent, the best space combat game.

First mobile phone: Nokia 3210

First job: The paper round from the age of 10. I'd get up at 6am everyday before school and earned £13 a week, which didn't go up for 4 years. I wasn't given pocket money, so had to earn for myself!

Digital hero: Peter Thiel. I admire his philosophy of creating value in the world.

Best thing about your current job: The constant challenge and learning, knowing that when we succeed we'll have built an entirely new way for customers to understand and engage with insurance.

Last time you wore a tie: Well, I used to wear a bow tie when I was a Texas Hold'em Croupier!

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A large data centre.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Coaching entrepreneurs and/or running another business.

Rob Savage

head of digital product management

Direct Line Group

Rob Savage, head of digital product management, Direct Line Group

Be the change you wish to see in the world

First computer: Amstrad CPC 464 - the ‘music' that played as the tape loaded is forever imprinted on my brain.

First mobile phone: Nokia 5110 - it was the family mobile and was given to someone whenever they left the house

First job: Paper round. First full time job was a Sales Coordinator for a software VAR.

Best thing about your current job: The people I work with and the culture we share.

Last time you wore a tie: Sad to say it was to a friend's funeral.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? To use a motoring metaphor, today it is probably an air bag - tomorrow it is fully autonomous accident prevention.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Most likely living an unfulfilled desire to race in motorsport.

Steven Mendel

founder and CEO

Bought By Many

Steven Mendel, founder and CEO, Bought By Many

Together we can make this happen

First computer: A Commodore 64 (now you know my age!!)

First mobile phone: I don't recall but it was in 1996 and it was on Orange, shortly after their launch.

First job: As a summer job, an actuarial student in a firm that is now part of Marsh Mac

Digital hero: John Straw, one of our early investors and a real search guru.

Best thing about your current job: Being able to bring together a great team of individuals with complementary skills.

Last time you wore a tie: I religiously (!) wear a tie once a year only for a specific religious festival

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? One of those old transporter phones that my father used to have bolted into his car - it pretended to be portable, but you had to be Geoff Capes to be able to carry it.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution? Each and every one of us - to shift this clunky industry into the digital age is going to require some serious collective effort.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? An architect.

Stuart Booth

director of digital for the UK


Stuart Booth, director of digital for the UK, RSA

Let's do to insurance what Apple did to the computer.

First computer: Sinclair ZX80.

First mobile phone: Some sort of Samsung.

First job: Research Assistant, Sheffield University Psychology Dept.

Digital hero: Steve Krug, author of 'Don't make me think!'

Best thing about your current job: Working with a team of fantastic, creative people to make a real difference for our customers.

Last time you wore a tie: I'm struggling to remember. A wedding maybe?

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? A pre-iPad tablet. Great digital potential and willingness, but not quite cracked it yet. Very close though.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Trying to change something else with great potential.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution? I'll be corny but honest - our customers are the real digital leaders.

Vivek Banga

chief digital officer

Arthur J Gallagher

Vivek Banga, chief digital officer, Author J Gallagher

First computer: BBC Micro, inspired me enough to learn Basic and Fortran (now long forgotten)

First mobile phone: Motorola "Brick"

First job: Selling soaps and detergents

Digital hero: Jeff Bezos; vision is fine but execution makes the difference!
Best thing about your current job: Exploring new concepts, UK and internationally

Last time you wore a tie: I am wearing one as I write this! It's the mind-set that matters.

If the insurance industry was a piece of technology what would it be? Desktop computer; mostly reliable, can process vast amount of data, not very trendy though.

Who is the best person to lead the insurance digital revolution and why? There's enough talent in the industry; a few disrupters from outside the industry could also help accelerate the revolution.

If you were not a digital activist what would you be doing? Selling insurance (and probably saying most of it can't be sold online!!)