This issue we chat with Ken Mitchel who, when not training
for his next mountain climbing expedition, serves as the
director of IT for Clements Worldwide, a multiline global
MGA specializing in expatriate insurance and commercial
risks in over 170 countries. At Clements, Mitchel is responsible for global IT infrastructure, enterprise systems and portals, and IT project management. Mitchel joined Clements
Worldwide in 2007, and recently completed a core policy
administration system replacement for the company. Prior to
joining the Clements team, Mitchel served as the vice president of IT for a regional Mid-Atlantic auto carrier, where
he successfully implemented a complete legacy systems
replacement and served in both executive IT and insurance
product management roles. Mitchel is also a member of the
ITA advisory board.
ITA: What is the biggest leadership challenge
you face in IT and how do you deal with it?
Mitchel: The biggest challenge we are facing in our business
is rapid change. Working for a fast-growing international
multi-line MGA, there is considerable multi-faceted change.
Whether we are driving the change to exploit new market
opportunities or the change is forced upon us by global regulation or carrier demands, we need to rapidly change systems
to keep up. From a systems standpoint, we stay on pace by
placing a premium on implementing systems that are flexible
and configurable. From a cultural standpoint, the IT team
mirrors the rest of the business and places an emphasis on collaboration and using an iterative approach to embrace change
and develop solutions.
ITA: What technologies do you feel are un-
der-used in the insurance industry today?
Mitchel: I would say data mining technologies are under-used
for most small to mid-size insurance entities, likely because it
is such a large undertaking for small firms to consolidate data
from multiple legacy platforms which is critical to make a data
mining solution relevant.
ITA: How satisfied are you with the relationship
between the business side and IT?
Mitchel: Very satisfied. Because we have a fast-moving,
entrepreneurial culture, we strive to have
people in IT who are
business people first
and IT second. This
when working with the
business because we
are the business. It also
helps that we have a flat
where all key partners
have a “seat at the table”
and problems are solved
ITA: What are your greatest concerns with the
way the IT department currently operates?
Mitchel: My greatest concern is ensuring that we are able to
move fast enough to keep up with business. This is becoming
increasingly challenging with multiple platforms hosted in
multiple countries with multiple partners, and new product and
compliance initiatives moving ahead at warp speed. Additionally, we want to be able to move quickly while still maintaining
the integrity, security, and upgradeability of our growing base of
ITA: How will the operation of your IT depart-
ment change over the course of the next five
Mitchel: I expect our IT department (and most corporate
IT departments) to continue the evolution of becoming
business-focused first, and increasingly outsourcing the
heavy technical aspects of IT. Most corporate IT is already
moving in this direction to varying degrees. In this vision,
IT is bought like a utility so the business can focus on core
competencies that create business value. To realize this
vision, the future IT department will increasingly consist of
highly-skilled problem solvers who can effectively collaborate with multiple technical and non-technical parties to
craft solutions. ITA
Electronic Chat: Ken Mitchel
The Electronic Chat is a regular feature of ITA Pro magazine and the ITApro.
org website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader and look
for thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance