What is the biggest leadership challenge you
face in IT and how are you dealing with it?
WR: Probably the biggest leadership challenge in IT is keeping
emotions by all parties from getting in front of a successful
outcome of projects. I spend a lot of time trying to take emotion out of the interactions and decisions that are made, and
continuing to have face-to-face communication to overcome
any misunderstandings. It is easy to lose focus on a project. A
lot of behind the scenes effort to manage scope, expectations,
and quality of the end deliverables is required.
Which technologies do you feel are under-used
in the industry today?
WR: Not sure that “all of it” is a proper answer, but I believe
there are several important areas that the insurance industry
has under-used or, better said, poorly implemented. In other
words, if they have adopted technology, they haven’t always
adopted it to the levels needed to provide a positive experience
for customers, agents, or employees. One example is simply
web technologies. If you compare a website that a national
bank or retailer has deployed vs. that of a national insurance
carrier, there is a big gap in the quality of the experience. You
could say the same thing of business intelligence/analytic tools,
mobility, and all the way through to the policy administration
and back-office systems. Insurance IT seems to be able to mess
things up well before executing properly.
What steps is your company taking to attract
and prepare young IT workers for a career in
WR: Since the
industry is starting to use standard technologies, it is easier
to attract workers than it was 10 years ago. The difficulty comes
in properly retaining them or keeping them from getting bored.
Challenging them and letting them come up with ideas and solutions helps and certainly adds value to the insurance company.
Are you satisfied with the connection between
the business side and IT? If not, what steps are
being taken to improve this?
WR: I’m not sure an IT leader should ever be satisfied with the
connection between their customers and the services that are
offered. Face to face communication, transparency, and being
seen as a customer service unit help greatly. I feel IT leaders are
always worried about having a “seat” at the table, but I believe
we should always focus on properly serving the table while
occasionally sitting down to offer any insights we can to the
bottom line results of the company.
What is your greatest worry when you put your
head on a pillow at night?
WR: I have been asked this before, and jokingly always answer
my daughter is approaching the age where boys are of interest.
Seriously, the outcome of large projects and making sure you
are properly managing them is probably what I worry about
the most. I enjoy projects where several folks don’t think it is
possible or determining how it can be done, but I try to keep a
healthy worry to make sure all the angles are covered. ITA
Electronic Chat: Wade Rugenstein
The Electronic Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and ITApro,org. We send a series of
questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues
facing the insurance industry.
This month’s Electronic Chat is with Wade Rugenstein,
vice president, CIO, and Chief Operations Officer for NTA
Life, which he joined in 2012. He previously served as
CIO of The Republic Group.
Other experience includes service as director of systems
delivery for Greyhound Lines, and consulting services
for Ernst & Young, LLP and Andersen Consulting. He
is a member of the Insurance Technology Association