By @SimonCocking. Delighted to bring you this interview with Danielle Guzman  | Top 20 | #6 , #9 @richtopia | | yogi, mom, chef.

What is your background briefly?

My background is marketing and international business primarily in the insurance industry. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life working in consulting and traditional insurance carriers, across many facets of marketing including product development, product marketing, customer insight, multicultural marketing and marketing communications.

Does it seem like a logical progression to what you do now?

It does. I’m in marketing, and marketing is always in evolution. I’m now more deeply involved in digital marketing, content marketing and social media – however the foundation that I’ve established in my roles leading up to today are what have enabled me to grow and evolve professionally.

At the core of it all remains the customer, and recognizing that consumers have drastically changed how they learn, form opinions and engage with organizations, we too must change. It’s critical for marketing to adapt to the sub-conscience of the generations in order to stay present and reach its targets. Add the context that the customer has never been more powerful than today and you have a wicked cocktail of opportunity. The age old expression “the customer is king” is real. Today I believe customer centricity is as important as product. Coming from the insurance industry and transitioning back into consulting, these principals remain true. And on a personal note, I love to learn. I love to step outside my comfort zone and pull on courage to enter unfamiliar territory. I’m progressing personally and professionally in a complimentary way.

1 min pitch for what you do now?

For the past 10 months I’ve been at Mercer, based in New York City. Mercer is in the business of creating more secure and rewarding futures for our clients and their employees – advising companies on recruitment, managing their staff benefits, advising on pension plans, investments and healthcare packages. I’m focused on social media and distributed content, continuously pushing boundaries on how we increase our brand awareness, and engage with our audiences wherever they may be

How do you balance all the different elements of what you do?

It is a daily struggle, I’m in a constant test and learn environment which makes for long days that challenge me daily. My overarching philosophy is that I try to leverage the insights that I gain from what I am doing across many facets of my personal and professional life. For example, I’m involved with topics like retirement, the future of work, insurtech, fintech, financial wellness and gender equity at work. So I am constantly looking for ways to make connections through my presence on social media – to meet individuals with like interests, and continue building the great relationships I’ve established over the past year. Social media, while it does take time, is part of what helps with the balance. You can learn, and exchange ideas with some of the brightest people, and take those learnings back to work. It’s a win-win. I love what I do, I’m in an incredibly happy place and have never been more satisfied in my professional life.

What are you excited about in the near future?

Where do I start? This is arguably the most exciting time the insurance industry has seen in decades; with Insurtech I’ve seen more change in the insurance industry in the last 18 months, compared to the last 15 years. And that’s incredibly exciting. The customer is truly at the core now. Startups and insurers that get it right are brilliantly bringing forth insurtech solutions that deliver a frictionless seamless experience. Add in the evolving role of technology, like artificial intelligence through chatbots, and customer engagement is front and center. Bottom line though, I think it’s still early days and the future of insurance is still being designed, and as it keeps evolving, marketers must also evolve.

I’m also very excited about gender equity, and more broadly diversity and inclusion. The link between women’s participation in the workforce and economic growth has never been clearer. Yet, according to Mercer’s latest When Women Thrive, Business Thrive report: Turning Disruption into Opportunity for Women and Business only 38% of organizations say that male employees are engaged in gender diversity efforts. Why is this exciting? With the disruption of the fourth industrial revolution and recognizing the struggle that businesses are facing to find the talent they need, therein lays opportunity. The largest emerging market in the world is women – not China. And the winners will be organizations that recognize that, harness that, and benefit from fresh leadership, innovation and economic gains.

How soon will we see changes coming in insurtech & fintech?

We are already seeing changes; it is all a measure of magnitude. Insurers are really in desperate need of improving their relationship with customers, and we see many insurtech partnerships in place today to deliver change faster. Insurers like MunichRe, AXA, Allianz have all entered into industry carrier-startup partnerships bringing tech-enabled innovation into traditional insurance business.

Singling out AI in particular, it’s critical to delivering increased levels of personalization and better outcomes for customers. We’re seeing the use of chatbots to help educate and inform customers about what they’re buying, and to make existing processes faster and a better overall experience.  Zurich insurance recently introduced AI claims handling and Lemonade offers insurance to renters and homeowners exclusively through a chatbot app for smartphones.

In relation to the #futureofwork what tips would you give to people looking to future proof their own careers?

This is such an important question. Three things come to mind, which are principles that I live by as well.

  1. Be a constant learner and embrace falling forward. Deliberately seek out developing new skills and taking on new challenges.
  2. Make your network part of your value proposition. Having a network that you can tap into to help you understand a new challenge, or that can help you learn a new skill is priceless. Connect, build and maintain your online personal profile.
  3. Love change, because now more than ever change is the only constant. And creativity is a hot currency in the #futureofwork. Be excited by change, truly enjoy it.

In an ideal world how would you like to be working in 5 years time? (remotely / on multiple projects or something else)

I’m fortunate – I love what I do and I’ve always done what I love. I work for a great company, Mercer, that enables employees to balance home life and work life, and that’s incredibly important. In 5 years time I will have a 9 year old, and I would like to be in a position to continue my professional career, and be a mom. Those are two big jobs, and they’re both very important to me. How do I want to be working – in a way that allows me to be an A+ mom and contributor to my family, and such that I can excel at what I do professionally. It will most definitely still be flexible and remote.

How do you define gender equity & what can be done to better achieve it?

Gender equity is when you look at men and women’s behaviors, aspirations, and needs; and they’re considered, valued and favored equally. What can be done to better achieve it – here are a few thoughts. To better achieve it, organizations must clearly articulate what they hope to gain by accelerating the progress of women. They must also clearly align gender strategies to a business imperative that all employees understand. Men must also play a leading role in remedying gender inequality. This is especially true in organizations where men dominate the leadership circles. Another consideration would be increasing gender representation on companies’ Board of Directors.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Yes. If you are reading this, and you are new to social media, I want to encourage you to give it time, and persevere. Finding your voice and building a community takes time – it’s a marathon not a race. I’m a strong believer in challenging oneself to grow and push outside one’s comfort zone, and now, as we are all looking to future, is the perfect time.

On a personal note, I wouldn’t be here today were it not for the incredible support I’ve received from the fintech, insurtech and marketing communities. I’ve met so many incredible people on this social journey over the past year, each whom have shared their wisdom and guided me along the way. While there are many to mention, April Rudin, Spiros Margaris, Theodora Lau and Jim Marous must be mentioned. Each in their own way, they have inspired me to be the best that I can be, challenge me daily, and have been a north star. That is a gift that money cannot buy.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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