Taking a diplomatic approach to data
Data, says Helen, is all about people. Although a self-confessed data techie at heart - “I get excited when I see fantastic new ways of using data,” - Helen believes that it’s how data impacts people that counts - whether it’s mining information to develop new business opportunities or designing new products.
As LM TOM Champion for Data she is helping to deliver a common data language, standards and tools that will enable the London market’s systems, processes and people to communicate more efficiently with each other. In her role Helen is leading the programme’s data integration initiative. “The TOM is leading the way in improving the availability and quality of shared data in the market, while making sure that it is secured and managed in a controlled, agreed way. This is starting to make a real difference to the London Market. “By encouraging common message standards for data exchange we are also identifying opportunities for cost savings,” explains Helen.
At Lloyd’s, Helen focuses on improving how Lloyd’s receives and manages Lloyd’s market data, and applying innovative techniques to the more complex data problems the Corporation faces.
“Data is central to the London and Lloyds’ markets’ modernisation journey towards more effective operations, reduced costs and market growth,” explains Helen. “It is invigorating to see the increase in understanding and collaboration in the market about data, and the development of new ideas for how innovation can support the London insurance industry.”
Helen graduated with a joint honours degree in maths and sociology, and took psychology as an additional module, which goes some way to explaining her fascination with the correlation between data and people. “I’ve always been interested in people but fell into data really,” admits Helen. “It didn’t exist properly when I first graduated in the 1980s. I chose the career option of systems analyst over accountancy as it just seemed a bit more interesting. I started my career working on Oracle V2, the first database application in commercial business outside of the US and I have remained in data ever since.”
The prospect of a new challenge tempted Helen to join Lloyd’s and the LM TOM programme in 2015. “I hadn’t worked in insurance before but it was a great opportunity which came along at the right time,” she explains.
Rolling out LM TOM’s data integration initiative to the London Market calls on both Helen’s diplomatic and persuasive skills. “There is a great deal of goodwill and interest in the benefits of technology and data but getting people to understand its use can be challenging. Sometimes you have to step right into someone’s shoes to find the right language to explain how data can help their businesses,” she says.
“My job is not just about talking to one company, and one size can’t fit all. It’s all about helping the market understand how it can use data more efficiently and support some quite tough market challenges. I still love the 'geeky' bits about working with data but I always remember its purpose. This is crucial in ensuring it brings as much benefit as possible to the London Market and its customers.”
More about Helen
- Describe your role in three words?
Broad, exciting, requiring a diplomatic touch.
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
- What is the best thing about the London Market?
Its complexities, the mutual respect that its expert market practitioners have for each other and the opportunities this presents for developing customer-focussed products.
- Describe your perfect day.
Indulging my addiction to motor racing. My son races in the British RallyCross Championship and it’s not unheard of for me to take our classic mini out if I have the time, followed by an evening on a beach, round a campfire. It’s not often I can get to combine the two!