Companies Hiring, Executive Feature

How Liberty Mutual Is Approaching Hiring Tech Talent & Making Boston a Tech Capital

When many of us think of working at an insurance company, a familiar image comes to mind: a pretty risk-averse employee pacing in his nondescript cubicle crunching numbers and worrying about everything. You know, like Ben Stiller as Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly. Now, press the mental delete button.

Today, companies like Liberty Mutual Insurance are looking for new ways to serve their customers. The modern tech employee at Liberty Mutual is a trailblazer — part innovator, part leader, with a unique set of skills for generating out-of-the-box initiatives to serve customers. A true Jack or Jill of all trades. At least, this is how those at Liberty Mutual would describe their ideal candidate.

“We want prospective employees to show us that they possess the technical skills, innovative thinking, and leadership qualities that will help solve problems for our customers,” says James McGlennon, Liberty Mutual’s EVP & Chief Information Officer. “But that is not enough on its own. Candidates also must demonstrate compassion, integrity, and ‘doing the right thing’- all intangible skills that help us put the customer at the center of everything we do.”

If you’re thinking, “This sounds like what big tech companies look for,” you are right. Liberty Mutual may have been founded in 1912, but in the 21st century it has evolved into a fast, flexible and agile organization. Disruption and innovation have taken root at Liberty Mutual, and the Boston-based Fortune 100 company is looking to hire nearly a thousand new employees into all kinds of roles — not just tech — to help millions of customers in more than 30 countries.

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Glassdoor caught up with McGlennon to dig into company culture,long-term goals and what they’re looking for in potential employees. Here’s what they had to say:

Glassdoor: How do you define a Digital Transformation?  What changes is Liberty Mutual currently undergoing as part of this?

James McGlennon: From driverless cars, to the Internet of Things and the sharing economy – technology continues to disrupt every industry, including insurance. With technology changing faster than ever, we are at an inflection point from an innovation perspective. To keep up with customer expectations and to stay relevant, we must become even faster, more agile and increasingly open to smart risk-taking. To accomplish this, we are building a start-up culture within this 100 year-old Fortune 100 insurance company to more quickly deliver technology capabilities, better accommodate industry changes, and put the customer at the core of the digital experience. We are transforming our culture to build innovative solutions that drive unprecedented possibility for our team, partners and customers.

Glassdoor: What are your long term goals / visions for this transformation?

James McGlennon:  Liberty Mutual is working to create a fast, flexible and agile organization that leads change in the industry by incubating new ideas and deploying new technologies.  In a world where we can’t predict the future and new competitors can come from many directions, we will win by being able to accommodate change and reconfigure our priorities in real time. We will do this by providing employees with opportunities to become multi-disciplined so they can harness the power of our collective differences and similarities to spark innovation and globally competitive ideas.  By applying a diversity and inclusion lens to all that we do, we can bring more perspective, bring more background and bring more insight to our operations, products, and services.


Glassdoor: How is Liberty Mutual changing the way that we view insurance?

James McGlennon: We are at a critical point in time in the insurance industry. We are also in the middle of one of the most significant changes in the technology industry in decades. Every industry and all major companies are at risk. Disruption is all around us. Digital innovation and changing expectations create opportunities and threats. We need to disrupt ourselves and change how we operate, placing the customer at the center of our thinking and looking for new ways to provide value and enhanced service. By doing this we will redefine how customers shop for and learn about insurance by creating innovative ways to help them navigate the roads with more confidence and less worry. 

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Glassdoor: How is this way of thinking being integrated across the enterprise?

James McGlennon: As the agile mindset takes hold across the company, teams are using out-of-the-box approaches to test new ideas and significantly increase the company’s speed to market and employees are feeling more and more empowered to take a risk and share ideas with colleagues and management. The past two years have seen an explosion of innovative thinking coming from Liberty Mutual including:

  • Solaria Labs: Established to help solve unmet consumer needs, foster new ideas, and attract talent in a startup environment, Solaria houses several teams committed to developing new products based on these discoveries, including data scientists, research engineers, UX/UI designers, and app developers. It also helps to foster a culture of innovation by immersing Liberty Mutual employees in a startup environment at WeWork.
  • Cat-i app: Automates the modelling and projection of hurricane impacts and enables users to see predictions on demand. This app gives executives information they need to make critical, proactive decisions much faster—from waiting up to a day to receiving data on demand. With more timely information, teams can be better positioned to deploy the right number of resources to impacted areas at the right time, ultimately helping people recover their lives faster.
  • Workgrid Software and Workgrid Assistant: Workgrid Software, LLC – a company wholly-owned by Liberty Mutual creates and sells software solutions that are purpose-built for an enterprise—by an enterprise. Workgrid Software’s initial product – the Workgrid Assistant – is a digital assistant that makes work simpler and more efficient for employees by handing chat-based administrative requests and bringing them personalized daily tasks, information and reminders through a single, intuitive interface.

Glassdoor: Where do you see the company in five years?  What’s your vision for the company moving ahead?

James McGlennon: Our goal is to be an innovation leader, developing products and services that address needs that our customers don’t even know they have yet. To do this, it is imperative that we accelerate our speed to market. We will need even more flexible and agile product development and a more dedicated focus on our customers. We also need to increase the range of ideas and experiences that are brought to the table. One way we will do this is by attracting, developing and advancing the careers of women in technology – both at Liberty and across the board. By fostering an environment in which everyone across the organization is encouraged to share their ideas and failure is not a negative, we will set ourselves up for another century of success.

Glassdoor: What qualities are you now looking for to make up this type of workforce? 

James McGlennon: We want employees who exemplify our core principles, including treating people with empathy, dignity and respect. Instead of just looking at how someone fits into a certain job function, we look for a combination of tangible and intangible skills and characteristics that indicate if he or she will make things better and follow through. This is becoming more prevalent in our approach to recruiting talent on college campuses. Instead of leading with the jobs/programs we offer, we are leading with the skills we are looking for in an ideal candidate. Finding talent that possess the skills to succeed in multiple roles throughout the company aligns with our focus on talent mobility and development focused culture.

Liberty Mutual is an inclusive employer who welcomes and embraces all of the differences and similarities between people and groups. Because there are multiple dimensions of diversity, including race, background and sexual orientation as example, we offer a wide definition of diversity and value the intersectionality of the dimensions that make us whole beings. As a result we are continuously expanding how we create an environment that embraces all people.


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