Union Mutual wins 1st ITA Bridge Award

Business, IT leaders honored for their work to develop outstanding synergies between organizational needs and IT execution.

The Insurance Technology Association (ITA) announces that Lisa L. Keysar and Gary H. Ouellette, executives with Union Mutual of Vermont Companies, are the winners of the first ITA Bridge Award. The award was presented at ITA LIVE, the ITA’s inaugural event held at the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa.Gary Ouellette

Keysar serves as senior vice president of client services and Ouellette is the senior vice president of operations for Union Mutual of Vermont. The two worked closely to develop an effective, responsive, and sustainable means to assure the insurer’s business IT requirements are identified, prioritized and met. In 2013, Union Mutual of Vermont recognized the need to quickly satisfy an ever-growing appetite for ease of doing business in the insurance marketplace. It was clear to the executive leadership increased developmental velocity, unwavering focus on priorities and moving discretionary IT budget to business units control was required for success.

The ITA Bridge Award honors insurance IT leaders and their counterparts on the business side, according to Jim Daggett, executive director of the ITA. Business opportunities are sometimes lost and IT implementations often fail when leaders from IT and the business side fail to collaborate effectively and “bridge” the gap between technology and business, explains Daggett.

Lisa Keysar“The ITA is proud to start this award program for the industry and we feel particularly fortunate to have found such worthy people to recognize with the first ITA Bridge Award,” says Daggett. “Their ability to collaborate on important issues facing Union Mutual serves as a great example for all of us on how successful companies need to operate.”

“We are excited to earn this national-level award as recognition of our creative approach to solving challenging problems,” says Michael W. Nobles, president and CEO of Union Mutual. “The hard work Lisa and Gary, along with their teams, put into bridging the space between our business needs and IT’s ability to execute change made this all possible.”

“It took a leader on the business side to step up and say, ‘Yes, I am willing to take on this role…in addition to my day job.’ Lisa did just that and was able to leverage her familiarity with IT process to make it an easy fit,” says Ouellette. “We refer to Lisa as our ‘real-time steering committee,’ which fits our agile development model and streamlines what was previously a cumbersome process is now an efficient, repeatable and sustainable one.”

“We have a good understanding of the systems and we serve as a conduit to the agents on a daily basis through the help desk,” says Keysar. “It’s pretty natural to work with Gary on what needs to be improved, fixed or enhanced and understand the needs of the business units. It’s been a fairly easy partnership.”

“Bridging this gap was the last piece of the puzzle, combined with our strong project management office and IT teams along with our highly motivated friends on the business side of the house,” says Ouellette.

The full story of Union Mutual of Vermont’s transformation will be featured in the June, 2015 edition of ITA Pro magazine, the official publication of the ITA.

About the ITA
The Insurance Technology Association provides members with opportunities to collaborate, educate, network, share and use knowledge related to insurance technology. The ITA provides the insurance technology community with a resource solely dedicated to serving this specialized sector of the industry. Publications and educational programs created by the ITA are geared to anyone interested in or charged with evaluating, implementing or marketing insurance-specific technology systems or services.