Women's History Month: Why it matters to InsurTech

by Jen Smoldt on March 16, 2018

women's history month and insurtech

SpatialKey's women discuss how their work is making a difference for insurers, and what it's like to be a woman in tech...

Women are strong in insurance, making up a large percentage of the workforce (from 45-85 percent depending on the profession). Yet despite this strength, women like Inga Beale and Karen Clark comprise only 8 percent of named executive officer positions and 17 percent of board seats. What about women in the tech industry? As an InsurTech company, we thought Women’s History Month would be a good time to take a closer look.

Sadly, the percentage of women in computing professions is expected to fall from 24 to 22 percent by 2025. The reason? For one, a lack of women role models and women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers. Only 6.7 percent of women are graduating with STEM degrees versus 17 percent of men.

We’re hoping with more women in crossover fields like InsurTech, younger generations of women will kick the “boys’ club” stigma and embrace their inner techies...which leads us to the women of SpatialKey who make up 35 percent of our company’s full-time employees. Read on to see how their jobs are making a difference for SpatialKey’s insurance clients:


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Christine Wallinger

Title: Account Manager

Role: My aim is to ensure our customers are successful and profitable so, in turn, SpatialKey can be successful.

Experience: Insurance industry warrior (and Math major!) with a focus on the “world of insurance analytics”; works with carriers, brokers, MGAs, reinsurers, and regulatory bodies.  

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

The industry is experiencing an explosion of data and insurers are looking to act on business opportunities. Much of the emerging data is nuanced, complex, and ever-evolving. I have the unique opportunity to partner with innovative insurers looking to transform data into actionable insight in really creative and valuable ways. SpatialKey is a conduit for a shared vision and the application of data within an organization. I consider my job successful when my clients are positioned and equipped to be analytical storytellers within their organizations to promote progress.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

Having earned a degree in Mathematics and a career spanning 10 years in the insurance and technology worlds, I can't turn a blind eye to the imbalance of men and women in STEM fields.  We are experiencing an exciting time where the value of diversity at all levels of organizations is being realized and more women are taking a seat at the table. But, it is difficult to visualize yourself in a role where you don't see others like you, which is why it's important to recognize women in tech today. Sheryl Sandberg said it best: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”


Louise Braybrooke

Louise Braybrooke

Title: Client Services Director

Role: Ensuring client adoption and satisfaction with new technology and year-over-year revenue growth.

Experience: Insurance industry vet, working with brokers, syndicates, and international carriers in London, Europe, and Asia markets; 12+ years experience with a catastrophe modeling firm.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

My role is to deliver on SpatialKey’s promise to our clients, which means I get to experience their “aha” moments, problem-solve, and implement our applications to streamline workflows in the field. I enjoy the challenging environment of account management, the huge variation in the work I do, and expanding our client relationships. Our clients associate powerful visualizations and analytics with SpatialKey and I can help them deliver these capabilities within their organizations.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

I really don’t see being a woman in tech as a big deal, however, the insurance industry is still very male-dominated. After so many years in the industry, I’ve stopped noticing (that on a regular occasion) I’m the only woman in the room. This industry is really embracing technology now which is truly exciting. And as long as you’re knowledgeable about your domain, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.


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Monique Nelson

Title: Data Product Manager

Role: All the data! I work with our data partners, clients, account management, and marketing teams to get the right data integrated into our platform. I’m also constantly looking for expert data providers that produce cutting-edge data and analytics.  

Experience: Self-professed “insurance industry junkie”; 10+ years working with location-based platforms in sales, account management, and product roles. Bonus: Masters in Actuarial Science!

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

I’m on the front lines working with clients and partners to deliver a solution that is tailored to their needs. We combine best-in-class data with our purpose-built platform and allow users to take that data and combine it with their books of business to derive insight. This means that insurers are allowed the freedom to build the right solution for them. Last year, my team delivered 30+ post event footprints from six data providers during 2017’s record hurricane season!

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

Tech and insurance have made great progress, but there's still a lot of work to do. Early in my career, I was one of two women in the office and the majority of client meetings were largely with male decision makers. I often felt like I had a special invitation to the boys’ club! I see this shifting with more women (like the CEO of Lloyds and AIR founder) taking on leadership roles in both tech and insurance. I’m honored to have worked beside some really great men and women who have been tremendous mentors and advocates for me, recognizing my skills above anything else.    


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Rebecca Morris

Title: Director, Product Adoption

Role: I continually use client feedback to inform product strategy. My role is a hybrid of sales, account management, and product management, giving me a full view of what the marketplace is looking for and informing our development teams about how we can answer that call.

Experience: 12+ years in the insurance industry; starting as a catastrophe analyst and then in insurance software.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

I work with our account managers to give our customers a voice inside our organization. That means communicating client needs to our product and development teams and ensuring we are building a top-notch solution. When I was a Cat analyst, I remember a lot of convoluted workflows that would take up too much time. With SpatialKey, I’m able to help deliver a product that streamlines those workflows to the benefit of other insurance professionals.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

I don’t really notice that I’m a “woman” in tech. I have always gravitated towards math and science and haven’t really looked back or paused to understand how big of a deal that is. Gender shouldn’t matter, skills should. I love mentoring and being a strong leader in the tech space. Being a woman allows for other women to visualize themselves in my shoes…to hopefully not pause and contemplate their gender before pushing forward with their passion.


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Becky McElrath

Title: Front End Developer

Role: I’m responsible for building the geospatial insurance analytics application used by our clients.

Experience: 8+ years as a software developer building dynamic and rich web applications for Fortune 500 companies; 19 years in GIS mapping, analysis, and application development.  

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

As a front end application developer, I take the amazing designs created by our UX designers and bring them to life. It’s really exciting being able to utilize the latest web technologies to create better and more advanced web applications for our clients. It’s very important to us (the SpatialKey Team) that we’re always striving to build and release applications that we’re proud of and exceed even our own expectations.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

As a woman developer, it can be pretty lonely in the tech world. Over my eight years, there have been only three other women developers employed at the companies where I’ve worked! I don’t feel that was intentional, it just seems as though there are not many of us out there. Software development is a fascinating and exciting industry, providing the opportunity to solve problems and be creative. It can be so rewarding, and I hope to see more women entering the development field in the future.


Sarah-Kinnel-headshot.jpgSarah Stadler

Title: Director, Marketing

Role: I’m responsible for developing and leading the execution of multi-channel marketing strategies that support corporate and product marketing, while aligning with sales goals.

Experience: 10 years as a marketer in tech companies and startups helping build brands and awareness as well as implementing marketing initiatives that support sales teams.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

I’m a huge proponent of efficiency. The less we have to do to get a maximum result, the better. SpatialKey’s technology makes data access and analysis much more efficient for insurers, and I want to make sure as many people know about this as possible so they can experience the success so many of our clients experience. The impact of having the right tech in place to do your job is huge because it’s empowering to feel like you can not only access what you need, but also make more accurate decisions based on the information at hand.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

I’ve been lucky to work with incredible men and women throughout my career that have treated me with respect and who have seen me as an equal. I know this isn’t the case for every woman, though. It’s no secret that women are marginalized in all industries, not just tech, and we’re hearing more about it everyday through the multiple movements we see in the news and across social media. I can’t wait for the day when we see as many women as men in boardrooms, spinning up startups, leading investment decisions, and coding their hearts out on the next life-changing piece of tech.


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Shivanii Cordes

Title: User Experience Director

Role: I’m responsible for understanding what our clients want from SpatialKey, why they want it, and how to design workflows and interfaces to deliver it in an easy-to-use and streamlined way.

Experience: 14+ years UX design, plus technical writing and communications; loves the power of interactive materials and using her skills to make software work better.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

There are a few industries that, because of their size or complexity, have legacy software that is very clunky and frustrating—and insurance is one of them. There is a stark difference between how insurers experience software at work and how they experience it at home on their iPhones or PCs. My goal is to bring that personal computing experience to the insurance space and streamline how our users get insights from their data.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

I don’t really feel like a woman in tech, because I work in a discipline that is pretty evenly represented by both men and women. I have also been lucky to have had some incredible women mentors and to have worked in companies with women executives, including CEOs and CTOs. Without a doubt, my ease in my career as a woman comes from the trailblazing women that came before me.


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Angie Olivero

Title: UX Designer

Role: I’m responsible for designing great user experiences, including optimizing existing workflows and designing new features. I’ve also played a hybrid role of product manager and now scrum master.

Experience: 20+ years (eek) working in tech in one form or another (producer, writer, photographer, developer, designer, manager, product owner, scrum master, lone wolf).

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

Much of my focus has been on streamlining and packing a lot of power into our workflows for underwriters. We spoke to a client recently who said some design changes we plan to implement would save them hours of time. Hours! Hearing feedback like that is what this is all about!

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

When I worked at a national sports website, I was one of the few ladies and I definitely had to make an effort to fit in, be "one of the guys" and prove myself. (Winning the Fantasy Football league helped a lot there. Go Pack!) I also had a great male mentor and boss who encouraged me to speak up and sell my ideas. Outside of that, I’ve made an effort not to define myself by my gender. I've been lucky to have had great mentors and coworkers, especially here at SpatialKey, who’ve treated me as an equal and modeled a “you can do anything you set your mind to” attitude.


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April Connolly

Title: Product Manager

Role: Working with clients and internal teams to build great software.

Experience: 18+ years building and managing large consumer websites (Pentax, MapQuest, Richmond American Homes, Healthgrades) and B2B solutions.    

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

I love working in the tech industry and finding creative ways to use technology to improve people’s lives. And, I like the idea of making our clients heroes in their places of business. I’m always thinking about how to use software to improve workflows, save time, and produce results. If I can make our clients more successful at their jobs, then I’m doing mine correctly.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

I think I have an advantage being a woman in tech because I have strong communications skills and approach others in a respectful, straightforward manner. At the end of the day, I’m looking to collaborate with others to find the right solution and deliver results. Each project is a new set of challenges that I get to tackle from beginning to end. It’s very rewarding, the people are great—and, there are endless debates about Star Wars versus Star Trek (I’m a Trekkie).


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Kristy Dark

Title: Sales Executive

Role: I’m responsible for business development and new customer acquisition for SpatialKey in the United States.

Experience: 14+ years of sales and marketing experience in the property and casualty insurance market.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

I’m proud to bring a solution like SpatialKey to the market and be able to inform and educate insurers about how it can truly transform the way they do business. It’s rewarding to see prospects become clients that realize improved productivity, profitability, and ultimately greater financial success through SpatialKey.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

It’s exciting to be a woman working in tech! Technology is a fast-paced environment that is always evolving and changing. I find it to be a challenging and rewarding field. There are so many bright women in tech, it’s not as hard to find a mentor anymore.


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Jessica Hofmann

Title: Finance Director

Role: All things numbers! All financial data and reporting, as well as administration of the HR related services, tax, and compliance.

Experience: Veteran finance leader in the tech startup sector with 15+ years experience working for various startups in Silicon Valley prior to SpatialKey.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

My job is behind the scenes. It keeps the company running smoothly, allowing others to have the bigger impact with our clients. I keep things administratively efficient, allowing others to spend their time serving our clients.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

Historically, I’ve been the sole finance leader reporting to mostly men. I’ve found that I need to be extra prepared, knowledgeable, and confident to ensure management and board of directors listen to my financial recommendations. At SpatialKey, it’s been important to prove I understand my role, but I don’t feel my gender matters, which is a first in my career. I have more autonomy here which motivates me to work hard and to take on more responsibility.


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Jen Smoldt

Title: Content Specialist

Role: Everything content! I create and market SpatialKey’s voice throughout the marketplace, including content development and strategy, brand voice, blogging, and partner marketing.

Experience: Content marketing industry vet with a corporate marketing and communications background mostly in financial services; 10+ years freelancing experience prior to SpatialKey.

How is your job making a difference for insurers?

We’re at a renaissance time in insurance with InsurTech and the adoption of new technologies. From thought leadership posts to event response communications, I’ve worked to articulate the value SpatialKey delivers to insurers. And, to give SpatialKey a voice in the digital transformation discussion while raising our presence and recognition in the industry.

What’s it like to be a woman working in tech?

In terms of my discipline, working in tech is liberating. I think tech companies aren’t quite as filtered or conservative as other industries. It’s refreshing for me to have more freedom in the content that I deliver. In terms of being a woman, in the last 20 years there has been (some) progress, but still work to do on the equality front—and specifically for women’s voices to carry the same weight as men. Most of all, when my daughters pursue their careers, I hope they never stop for a second to consider that they’re women—and that they’re graded on skills, work ethic, and integrity alone.  

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Topics: insurtech

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