“We’ve been able to bring in folks who are experts in things that our company has never done before, so we can learn and make fewer mistakes.”
A 115-year-old life insurance company’s long-standing success is due to its deep understanding of customer needs—as well as its ability to change and adapt.
From early mergers and acquisitions that helped the company turn into a nationally-recognized insurance provider, to embracing the increasingly digitized space of the early 2000s, this leader in the insurance industry has seen its fair share of change.
Today, the company has a team dedicated to making sure that they continue to remain on the forefront of technology, insurance, and customer service.
A digital transformation to support continued innovation
“My role is to help the company invent new things—and do so better and faster than the average insurance company,” said the company’s head of innovation. “My team takes on big and new ideas, defines them, builds them out, and scales them within the company.”
When this leader first joined the company in 2018, the firm was already embracing change—but doing so in the traditional manner of recruiting, hiring, and training in-house teams.
While this way of working did deliver results, the process was at times slower and more expensive than their new innovation hire knew it could be.
The innovation executive came into his role with years of experience using talent on Upwork to run another business. He quickly saw how the flexibility of independent talent could benefit the insurance company.
“I’ve been working with Upwork for almost a decade now, and it’s been great,” he said. “I really loved the idea of bringing graphic design talent from Upwork to our company. We cooked up micro-websites to present the idea … and everyone internally got really enamored with it.”
In fact, his colleagues so whole-heartedly embraced working with talent on Upwork that internal use of the platform has continued to expand. Today, the head of innovation alone works with a dozen consultants based in the US and internationally, and continues to utilize additional talent as needed.
Drawing on expert knowledge to grow and pivot with speed
Having access to this world of independent business experts means the insurance company can innovate faster, without experiencing roadblocks that are a natural result of trial-and-error.
“I’m not trying to make the same mistakes that other people have made,” the innovation executive said. “I make plenty of mistakes—I’m trying to avoid the ones that we don’t have to make.”
Finding talent to move a trusted brand forward in new ways
For an insurance company—or any company, really—to be in business as long as this one has, it must recognize and support what’s important to its customers.
With a growing number of consumers across the U.S. wanting to support sustainable companies, this insurance leader began working on its own sustainability initiative. Through Upwork, they were able to find experts with experience in corporate sustainability.
“These experts were instrumental in teaching us about sustainability, what that looks like, and how to get deals done,” the head of innovation said. “We ultimately put 25 million from our investment group to work in sustainably linked assets.”
Talent on Upwork can help the innovation team shape the future of their insurance business in other ways, too.
“We just rebranded as a company, and have created a ton of brand material using talent off of Upwork,” the head of innovation said. “We would’ve been able to get it done in-house, but it would’ve been a lot more expensive and have taken a lot longer.”
Like many Upwork clients, this company has realized a key benefit of working with a globally distributed workforce: the ability to leverage time zones to get more work done, faster.
“We have talent all over the world working with us. One of the guys who has been helping us with our PowerPoint presentations is based in Turkey,” the head of innovation said. “The advantage of that, of course, is that there’s a time zone change. I can actually tell him in the morning my time, hey, we’ve got a deck we need your help with—and it’ll be ready by the time we wake up the next day.”
Independent talent as continued partners in innovation
This combination of flexibility, expertise, and speed cements Upwork (and talent on Upwork) as a continued innovation partner for insurance industry success.
“The thing about Upwork that’s really cool is that you can muster an army to quickly build that thing that you need,” the leader said. “We’ve been able to bring in folks that are experts in things that our company has never done before, so we can learn and make fewer mistakes. And that, to me, when it comes to innovation—that’s just huge.”
Recommended success stories
Join the world's work marketplace
Find great talent. Find great work. Are you ready to move your business or career forward?