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25 Rising Stars of Innovation Under 40

A recent LIMRA survey of financial services executives revealed how changes in regulation, advances in technology, and shifts in demographics and consumer expectations are challenging their current business practices.

As the industry faces so many external changes, it will be necessary for companies to re-evaluate their business practices to incorporate new technology and strategies. That’s where innovation comes in.

LIMRA is pleased to present the winners of the 2016 Rising Stars of Innovation. These individuals represent talent across many areas of the financial services industry, showcasing the best in management, product development, sales, marketing, customer engagement, and more.

Winners are under age 40 and were selected from the nominations received from LIMRA member companies.

  • Diego Arnaiz

    Application Development Manager
    Diego leads Metlife’s Application Lab for Spain. In this role, he is responsible for driving competitive advantages and the company’s transformation through technology, operational efficiencies, and talent. In the last 4 years, he has been successfully leading MetLife Iberia integration in critical areas, such as business intelligence and analytics, claims, and finance. His efforts have helped MetLife increase the level of efficiency across Spain and Portugal.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Aaron Brickman

    Senior Associate
    New York Life Insurance Co.
    “Aaron is a forward-thinking social innovator, who helped implement New York Life’s social media program. In addition, Aaron helped develop the policies and strategies for the field’s social program.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Scott Campbell

    Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer
    American National Insurance
    “This year Scott made heads turn when he announced, an online car show that’s customizable for car enthusiasts. The platform also allows participants to request an insurance quote from American National. The website is a beautiful example of truly knowing a segment of your market and surprising them with something unexpected.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Daizy Chebet

    ICT Manager - Digital and Innovation
    CIC Insurance Group
    “Daizy spearheaded the creation of first innovative insurance portal in Kenya: M-BIMA. This mobile customer registration program allows financial advisors to register their clients and provide service through the online/mobile portal. Advisors can also manage their client portfolio and commissions online. Daizy was honored at the 2014 eChallenges Conference for her contributions to the insurance industry in Kenya.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Roy Chen

    Data Science Director, Advanced Analytics
    John Hancock Insurance
    “Roy was instrumental in building John Hancock’s entire marketing analytics infrastructure in the cloud. He bridged data from two marketing data sources with internal data, in order to drive marketing efficiencies and save John Hancock millions of dollars in execution costs.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Darrin Dowell

    Senior Application Analyst
    “Darrin sets the bar when it comes to leading innovation in Principal’s organization. He is a member of a software development team that launched an integrated, cloud based solution delivering CRM, e-application, and document storage capabilities, which provide efficiency gains for advisors. Darrin’s innovative approach to software development has been instrumental in delivering innovative solutions for our advisors.” — excerpt from nomination
  • LeeAnn Fahl

    Senior Leader, Digital Channels
    Securian Financial Group
    “LeeAnn led the initiative to totally revamp Securian’s flagship website, She used responsive design to meet changing customer expectations. Her team is also implementing a new social media strategy to interact with customers how, when, and where they want. Because of her efforts, Securian’s Facebook fans have grown from less than 2,000 to nearly 50,000 in less than a year through unique campaigns, such as Minneapolis/St. Paul (where Securian is headquartered) event sponsorships and sophisticated use of content targeting and testing.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Matthew Gabriel

    AVP, Innovation
    John Hancock Insurance
    “Matt was instrumental in the development of John Hancock’s Total Risk View, an underwriting model which provides a more refined look at underwriting risk selection. His passion has helped John Hancock break through some of the industry’s most vexing challenges.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Matt Harring

    Financial Advisor
    Raymond James
    Matt developed a technology-based template to document his services (for compliance and DOL reasons) and clearly defined his role for their clients. I think his template will eventually be used as a blueprint for how many advisors will work going forward.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Karen Inkel

    Assistant Vice President, Strategic Analysis
    Voya Financial
    “Karen is recognized for her remarkable efforts designing, executing, and communicating market-level strategic initiatives at Voya. She helped build Voya’s Advisor Evolution Model, which is currently being used in the tax exempt market business and expected to be implemented in other business areas.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Eric Jorgensen

    Senior IT Architect
    “Eric has spearheaded several innovative, enterprise-wide efforts that support Principal’s captive and independent distribution partners. As an example, Eric designed and deployed a program that consolidated data sources, allowing Principal to manage all of our distribution partner relationships, offering compensation settlement, access management, and analytic reporting capabilities.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Samir Kazimov

    Sales Department Director
    PASHA Life Insurance OJSC
    “With life insurance industry in its infancy in Azerbaijan, Samir has proven himself as an innovator, developing new business ideas and products that keeps PASHA Life competitive. He continuously explores new methods of service and new distribution channels.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Lonny Koehlmoos

    Director of Business Intelligence
    Sammons Financial Group
    “Lonny helped lead predictive analysis using Sammons Financial Group’s business data and third-party data to streamline the process for identifying agents who were best fit to represent the organization.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Evelyn Mbula Kyuvi

    Training and Agency Support Manager
    CIC-Life Assurance Co.
    “Evelyn developed and implemented five innovative training modules for agents and managers who won recognition at ThinkBusiness in 2014 and 2015.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Lizzy Lubczanski

    Behavioral Research Unit Manager
    Swiss Re
    “Lizzy uses behavioral research to help Swiss Re's insurance clients better communicate with their customers. Lizzy and her team test every intervention to see whether there are optimal ways to communicate with people's 'automatic' brains in order to help encourage desired behavior. With a better understanding of customers' real needs, Lizzy and her team believe the industry can improve product development and possibly even remodel the way we sell insurance.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Neesha Mathur

    Marketing Manager
    Prudential Financial
    “Neesha spearheaded marketing innovations that combine large-scale, multi-channel campaigns with a strong data tracking component that did not previously exist. Moreover, she instituted a lead-coring approach that made it easier for distribution to quickly capitalize on their strongest opportunities. She also developed and led a campaign to showcase Prudential’sunderwriting assets, which became a huge attraction with distribution partners and helped them develop their own training and recruiting programs.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Patricia Mendez

    Business Development Manager
    “Patricia transformed her line of business into the most innovative among all the direct marketing operations in the EMEA through a creative use of Big Data and technology. Working closely with partners to understand their strategy and core business needs, she adapts internal processes in order to reach customer needs and increase customer satisfaction.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Sears Merritt

    Vice President, Data Science
    “Sears established MassMutual’s Data Science Program in 2014. Working with professors at five colleges in the Springfield, MA area, the company has created a Ph.D.-like development program that combines with a full-time, salaried position in MassMutual’s data analytics area. Sears and his team are working on groundbreaking data-driven projects (both long- and short-term), including instantaneously assessing various risks, fraudulent activity, and consumer retention — enabling new product development, and streamlining the underwriting process, among others.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Amanda Mioli

    Senior Digital Analyst, Association Marketing Strategy
    Prudential Group Insurance
    “Amanda brings a fresh perspective, keen insights, and digital expertise to her job. Her contributions have helped Prudential reach and engage customers through Social Media. In addition to her digital expertise, Amanda quickly became proficient in research, analytics, and multicultural marketing, adding to her already significant value to her team. And she’s just getting started.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Robert Mowery

    Senior Analyst, Marketing
    Lincoln Financial Group
    Bob helped to develop Lincoln’s Territory Visualizer, which uses big data and advanced analytics to improve wholesalers’ productivity and create better customer experiences. This has transformed how Lincoln wholesalers manage their territory.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Rachel Reddy

    Millennial Segment Director
    “Rachel led developing new and better ways to predicting customer behavior for our annuities products. By getting to the root of what was really needed—highly accurate predictions about how customers behave and clarity around why—Rachel and the team set about developing a modern way to solve this problem, drawing on non-traditional data and advanced analytic techniques.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Logan Roddy

    Customer Analytics Manager
    Securian Financial Group
    “Working closely with Securian’s actuarial, technology, and distribution departments, Logan accelerated pilots using statistical models to predict sales opportunities with advisors, including probabilities of a first sale, a significant increase in production, or a retention risk among top producers. These models help Securian’s wholesalers prioritize contact among thousands of advisors in each sales territory. In just two quarters, the models have meaningfully contributed to sales across two divisions.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Daria Lee Sharman

    Assistant Vice President, Strategy and Applied Analytics
    Pacific Life Insurance Co.
    “Daria has been a driving force in shaping and executing the Life Division strategy for Pacific Life. She and her team of analysts have leveraged Big Data to segment our current customers as well as more accurately segment and focus products and services to desired target markets. Daria is a trusted and valued associate at Pacific Life throughout the Life Division.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Jeffrey Torres

    Director, Strategic Technology Services
    Guardian Life Insurance Co.
    “Jeffrey spearheaded Guardian’s Shark Tank program (modeled after the popular show). The program identifies innovative vendors who offer creative ways to solve business challenges within the insurance and financial services industry. His efforts have helped Guardian improve several important processes.” — excerpt from nomination
  • Mandy Wilson

    Senior Manager, Emerging Channel Strategy
    RBC Insurance Co.
    “Mandy is an innovative problem solver who loves a challenge. In a very short time, she moved from being an intern to spearheading RBC Insurance’s new social media program. Under her leadership, RBC Insurance created its LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter presence, using best practices gained from extensive research. She also developed the governance, training, and onboarding for a program that allows select sales advisors to use social media for business purposes. The work she’s led has been cited twice in Social Eyes, an insurance industry publication that recognizes movers and shakers, and has driven a whole new social state of mind in our organization.” — excerpt from nomination

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100 Birthday Wish
    From left to right: Jean Pelletier, Joe Krukas, Carolyn Burton, Paul McClain, Rita Baccaro, Frank Santa-Donato, Reba Nassau, Tom Fahey, Gene Mayfield (with spouse Sue), Arch Edgar, Kent Jamison, Don Kauke, Jim Mitchel, Barbara Norton, Dave Logie, Ram Gopian, John Donahue, Bruce Hamstra.