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LeaderTalk : In conversation with Ashish Patel, CEO – Allianz Technology, India

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1.Allianz Technology, India has offices in Trivandrum and Pune. Tell us more about the locations and your presence there.

We pride ourselves on being a diverse organization with a 3700+ strong workforce in India for Allianz Technology. Ever since the inception, we have grown phenomenally not only in strength and efficiency but also in providing excellent services. Pune is one of the largest IT hubs in India and its proximity to Mumbai makes it a key location for us. Trivandrum has one of the earliest and greenest IT parks in India where we started our operations as one of the flagship companies. Our state-of-the-art offices in EON IT Park, Pune, are worth a glimpse while our offices in Trivandrum are located in Technopark – one of the largest and greenest IT parks in India.

2. What’s been your experience during this COVID crisis? How did you leverage technology to ensure business continuity? Also, please share your learnings from the crisis.

More than anything, the global pandemic has made us realize that sound resiliency plans, with corporate governance, crisis preparedness, and digital transformation, are the keys to managing business continuity and navigate through the crisis.

 Our will and internet connection. Two things which made us stronger in the last six months. Like we have done for all of human history, we adapted and evolved in this pandemic.

Much before the pandemic was declared, our colleagues went full-throttle with preparations for smooth operations. At Allianz Technology in India, it began with an essential aspect — getting our people to the safest place possible to work from — their homes. We did whatever it took to enable 100% work from home very quickly – from imparting innovative solutions in enabling our colleagues to work from home at the beginning of this pandemic to preparing a modern working infrastructure in a short period for our teams to work from home conveniently.

 Our robust mechanism to track the milestones in the current remote working scenario enabled seamless service delivery. More than anything, our colleagues as one single team worked relentlessly to ensure full-scale delivery & seamless operation. We made sure to look beyond what’s new to what’s next, and thus our teams quickly formulated our strategy for the future normal way of working.

 And something that worked amazingly well for us in every area was how quickly we adapted to meet the demands, be it readiness to work from home, introducing the future normal way of working, on-boarding new colleagues virtually, or employee wellness and engagement initiatives. We experienced a complete shift. We are being challenged as never before not just to adapt but to adapt at speed with of course relentless innovation.

3. The changing expectations of customers – please share your insights with us on how are you utilizing technology to address these topics.

Adapting to experiences is indeed shifting the digital transformation playbook and requires strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies in an accelerating trend. We are not only adapting to the latest technologies but are also investing in new generation technologies and capabilities. Our various edifying sessions with leaders across the globe are helping us explore multiple other technologies opening doors to new opportunities that technology could bring.

4. What is responsible AI from an insurance business standpoint?

AI has immense potential of being the game-changer for an existing business or new opportunity giving a head start by redefining customer experience. However, a very high focus is required to ensure “allowed’ data collection as well as data privacy and data security.

5. Please tell us how your experience has been in engaging with talent in these months.

Pandemic changed the way we work along with many other things, and we found different ways to do run the show virtually. Employee engagement was an area where we saw an extreme shift. All our in-person engagement events moved to the virtual mode – our digital collaboration tools paved the way for trustful engagement. Health and wellbeing are top concerns for our colleagues right now, and we at Allianz Technology in India are always actively seeking to improve the same in meaningful ways. In an endeavor to support our colleagues to manage better the complexities of our current work/life scenario and to help focus on their holistic wellbeing, we offer wellbeing and mindfulness sessions to our colleagues.

To support employees in managing the added responsibility of keeping their little ones engaged whilst focusing on work our teams have been organizing various book reading sessions and art and craft activities.

 With no pause in our hiring process, we made sure our virtual on boarders had a smooth onboarding process. We carried out several learning initiatives to be future-ready and also equip our colleagues to help them thrive on their professional side as well as on personal wellbeing through various mindfulness sessions. Open and transparent communication has been fundamental towards keeping trust and engagement alive.

 6.Any interesting initiatives or programs that you are excited about?

We are looking forward to our organization-wide Future Normal Program that is aimed towards preparing ourselves better for the digital, agile, and resilient ways of working.  The program is not only focusing on the new normal and future workplace but also on digital upskilling of our staff with a modern working environment and supporting knowledge and best practice sharing across the group by aligning to the future workplace strategy.

 7. Your future pivots please, and your business mantra? 

 Our future way of working looks at a more hybrid working: combining remote working with work from office in the long term. The crisis is still in existence, and our operations are still rolling. While we continue our focus on quality and productivity, we continue to adapt to circumstances that are being presented to us. Agility and resilience are our business mantra, but most importantly, putting our people first. As we always keep our people ahead of anything, their safety will be of prime importance while deciding any future pivots.

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