Liz Nguyen, Vertafore's chief technology officer, spoke with Independent Agent on insurance's barrier-breaking opportunities, her experience as a woman in InsurTech, and corgis.
Chief Technology Officer
In November 2021, Vertafore named Liz Nguyen as chief technology officer. With more than two decades of experience in software product development, design and management, Nguyen brings to the role a reputation for delivering cohesive, integrated technology that supports users' needs and goals.
As CTO, Nguyen leads the InsurTech's development and technology operations teams in their efforts to build solutions that simplify and automate the insurance life cycle. She is also Vertafore's first woman CTO.
“There are so many new things happening in the InsurTech area," she says. “It's not just the same stuff being built over—there's a lot of innovation and a lot of things the market is ripe for."
How did you get into insurance?
People that I had worked with previously started going into the insurance industry, and then said, “Hey, we have an opening over in the technology side, you would be great for it." Before I joined Vertafore, I was working in the energy industry—I had started in the deregulated wholesale electricity space, and then moved into oil and gas, which has had a lot of ups and downs in the past years. So, the stability on the insurance side helped draw me in.
For me, software is something I've worked with throughout my entire life, but with each industry that I go into to build the software, it's important for me to really understand the industry. I stay for quite a long time in each one—within the public sector building out public welfare systems, then energy solutions, and now I'm in my third year in InsurTech.
What drew you to technology?
In college I majored in economics, but when I was coming out of school I applied to a consulting group that had me take an aptitude test to determine if I should go into the business or systems group. I ended up with an aptitude toward systems and from there just took to it like a duck to water. My entire career since then has been in technology.
How has your experience been as a woman in InsurTech?
In our organization, we have a lot of women leaders. I'm the first female chief technology officer here at Vertafore and I've had so many people reach out to me to say, “It's so great to see a woman in this position; it's so great to see an Asian person in this position." I want to be a role model.
The fact that Vertafore has a lot of women in these roles is pretty unique. I would not see that in the oil and gas industry. And the fact that we do see that in InsurTech and the insurance industry has been really gratifying.
What's your favorite thing about working in insurance?
The fact that everything is built on relationships. It's all about the human aspects of the relationship and not just like, “Who do I know?" It's about “Do you empathize? Do you understand what they are going through from a customer or user perspective?" That empathy is what builds that relationship. And I see that so much here in insurance.
I also love working with our customers, collaborating with them, understanding their needs and working together as a team.
What makes the insurance industry a great career choice for women?
One aspect is the stability. But there's also the growth into leadership positions. I never would have seen that in the industries I worked in previously, where there is a limit to how many women leaders you actually see. We're breaking barriers here in insurance.
In my interactions with other C-levels in the insurance industry or with my customers, there's never been a feeling of, “Oh, she's different." They have treated me as an equal and they come to me to help solve their problems, because it's based on our abilities and not on our gender.
If you could change one thing for women in the industry, what would it be?
More leadership roles! Not just opportunities for the title, but opportunities to be leaders. We need to showcase that more. Several people at Vertafore are part of the Big “I" Diversity Council, and that's one way we are showing that we support women in these roles and their growth. That's important. I want to see that continually evolve and improve so we can give opportunities to more women out there.
What's your biggest piece of advice for other women in the insurance industry?
Something I've learned over time is to be proud of your accomplishments. There's always that feeling of self-doubt, but we should be proud of our accomplishments and we should not be afraid to go after something that we want. Ask for it. Demand it. We do just as good—if not better—and we should be loud and proud about it.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I have two corgis. The oldest one—he's almost 11—goes by the name of Harry, which is short for Prince Harry. He was actually born the year of the Queen's Jubilee, so the entire litter was named after the royal family. He's fluffy too, so he's extra Harry. My second corgi's name is Sophie, and she is almost seven. She's the regular short hair version and isn't as fluffy, so she always looks like a puppy next to Harry.
What's your favorite hobby?
Hiking with my corgis (Liz, pictured right, with her sister, Margaret). Especially being in Colorado, we have a lot of great trails here. I have a backpack for Sophie, since she doesn't have a lot of endurance and sometimes halfway through the hike she acts like a complete diva so I put her in the backpack and carry her the rest of the way. Harry has the endurance and doesn't like to be in a backpack.
What's one item on your bucket list?
I want to travel to Antarctica. Our leadership team was having dinner one night and someone asked, “If you had one week of an all-expenses-paid vacation, where would you go?" And people were saying Italy, or somewhere exotic, or tropical, and then when I said Antarctica everybody looked at me like I was crazy. But wouldn't you want to go to Antarctica? You can see penguins, you can see all the glaciers, and you can stop by the Galapagos Islands. I think it would be really cool.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.
This article is the first installment in a three-part series that profiles women insurance leaders to celebrate Women's History Month.