Meet the 2019 Tech & Innovation Awards Judges

To put our finalists to the test, we rely on an expert panel of judges made up of individuals from right across the industry and selected for their specialist knowledge and expertise. Their time and commitment is vital to the credibility of these awards and ensures a balanced and independent approach.

Jack Billinge, Research Consultant, Lumivo

For the past two years Jack Billinge has been a research consultant at Lumivo, a digital research agency specialising in online and mobile competitive benchmarking. While working for Lumivo, Jack has been deeply involved in the analysis and identification of best practices for over 20 insurance companies in the UK, US and Australia. Jack takes a central role in designing and implementing the large-scale user research and has reviewed thousands of user tests of insurance sites.
Prior to working at Lumivo, Jack completed a PhD in Geochemistry at the University of Southampton where his focus was on the environmental impact of anthropogenic pollution in UK rivers.

Karen Campbell, Chief Information Officer, Carpenters Group

Karen joined Carpenters Group in 2003 as IT Manager and has created a dynamic and forward-thinking IT team to deliver the systems and technical expertise to enable Carpenters to meet and exceed their growth plans. As Chief Information Officer Karen oversees a large team who are responsible for achieving and surpassing the IT requirements of both internal and external stakeholders. As a member of the Executive Board Karen ensures that an innovative and robust IT strategy is implemented to support the firm, clients and staff.

Matt Connolly, Founder and CEO, Tällt Ventures

Matt has worked within tech innovation for the past 15+ years.

In his early 20s he founded a digital innovation agency which grew to become the UK’s #1. He subsequently went on to build, and invest in, a number of tech startups.

Recognising the opportunity to help insurers better understand, adapt and succeed in today’s changing world, Matt set up Tällt Ventures – a market intelligence and proposition design company.

Tällt helps insurance companies around the world better connect with global innovation activity – scanning startup and competitor activity, deep-diving into relevant trends, and identifying new business opportunities. It then works with clients and their customers to design, build and scale new propositions that deliver meaningful value.

In addition to spending much of his time travelling, Matt speaks regularly at conferences and enjoys meeting people who share his passion for disruptive innovation.

Tshidi Hagan, Head of CoLab, Rainmaking InsurTech

Tshidi Hagan is the Head of CoLab at Rainmaking InsurTech, a corporate-scaleupcollaboration programme designed by the leading architect of world-class innovation programs for (re)insurers, Startupbootcamp InsurTech. Prior to CoLab, she led the impactful acceleration of Startupbootcamp InsurTech’s third cohort in London.

Previously, Tshidi was an investment professional working for Old Mutual Emerging Market’s (“OMEM’s”) Africa Strategic Investment Fund. In this role, she focused on Strategic Investments and Partnerships particularly in FinTech and InsurTech ventures with the potential to accelerate growth and build insights and future options for OMEM’s existing and target markets. She was also involved in M&A origination and execution as well as the strategic review of businesses across the OMEM Group.

Tshidi has over ten years’ experience executing financial advisory and investment assignments worth over $2.5 billion across multiple sectors including construction, financial services, healthcare, infrastructure, manufacturing and mining.

Rob Harper, Head of Claims Business Performance, Admiral

Rob joined Admiral in December 2015 after spending over 15 years with ERS in various senior claims roles. Initially Rob was responsible for leading the development and successful launch of Admiral’s directly underwritten van product before taking up the role as Head of Procurement, overseeing the performance management and governance of Admiral Claims’ supply chain.

In July 2018 Rob took on the newly created role of Head of Business Performance which sees him have responsibility for all support functions within Claims, including: Procurement, Repair Network & Engineering, Risk & Compliance, Complaints, L&D, Data, PMO and Automation (RPA).

Rob is married with one son and is a sports fanatic.

Paul Heybourne, Head of Innovation Operations, Aviva Group

Paul is Head of Innovation Operations for the Aviva Group and manages a portfolio of innovation activity out of the London Digital Garage – currently focused on opportunities relating to Connected Car.

A proven Senior Operations Leader and Senior IT Manager with a wealth of experience gained from over 20 years working in both the Operational Business and IT & Change Delivery environments of multiple insurance companies.

Paul’s career in the financial industry started in Operations where he developed a passion for change, innovation, technology and process improvement.

Deliveries have included Insurance Telematics solutions, the digitisation of traditionally traded insurance products, Enterprise Smartphone Apps and more recently, responsibility for leading engagement with the external Technology Start Up and Entrepreneur community to drive Aviva’s ‘disruptive’ innovation agenda.

In 2013, Paul was awarded the Insurance Times Technology Champion of the Year Award.

In 2016, Paul was awarded the Digital Leader of the Year, by Insurance Post Magazine

Chris Jekiel, Director of Information Technology, Horwich Farrelly

Chris has over 20 years’ experience working within UK, European and Global IT outsource industries across a number of business sectors. As a highly-experienced Senior IT & Business Leader with a successful background in retail, legal, financial, banking, business to business & corporate sectors, Chris is commercially-aware, with a broad range of IT general management experience.

Throughout his career, Chris has adopted a collaborative approach to successful IT leadership, engaging with key business stakeholders, senior executives, vendors & third parties, delivering ‘fit for purpose’ Service solutions & business systems. Chris has extensive experience of driving business change, business transformation, IT service transition, IT strategies, technology roadmaps, IT operations, outsourcing, business acquisition & integration.

He is a graduate of Computer Sciences and Electronic Engineering from NNC/TCAT (UK).

Elaine Mason, Managing Director, Belvedere Mead Ltd. and Founder BelMead Tech Solutions

Elaine has spent her whole career in the world of insurance claims working for both small and large insurers, personal lines and commercial, direct and reinsurance. In 2010, Elaine felt a change of direction was needed and left the senior role she held at the ACE Europe / ACE Tempest Re organisation and founded a management consultancy business focused on the delivery of excellence claims service. The company has been successful and grown organically although Elaine felt the changes in the London Market Claims environment were not moving forward quick enough so applied for the Innovation Lab at Lloyd’s. The successful application and the subsequent validation of the concept led to Elaine founding an Insurtech Start Up with the aim of improving the claims process of Multi-Party Subscription Claims through online collaboration via the new claims platform ‘Simplify Claims’.

A Liveryman of the Worshipful of Insurers and a past examiner of the CII.

Darius Medosa – CFO and Head of Insurance, Buzzvault

Darius’ experience in the insurance sector gives him unparalleled expertise in the workings of the industry.
His exposure to the inner workings of insurance, in the position of a business leader, provides Darius with an innate understanding of the various aspects of the complexities of insurance business processes.
– 20+ years of specialised experience in the insurance sector
– Former partner in the insurance practice at Mazars LLP
– Designed and launched insurance products in the UK
– Led an organisation-wide transformation project for Munich Re
– Re-designed the underwriting function for a reinsurance business

In his current role, Darius oversees the design and implementation of transformation initiatives, finance and regulatory aspects of the business.

Matt Poll, CEO & Co-Founder, Neos

Having nearly 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry, Matt Poll has worked in senior management positions across global companies such as RSA and AXA.
Matt began his career as Head of Business Development at French multinational firm AXA, before leaving to become Sales Director at RSA. From there he became Commercial Director and Managing Director at MORE TH>N. In 2016 Matt set up Neos, an insurtech focused on giving consumers more value by providing them with smart home technology to actively protect their home, the first of its kind in the UK.

Ruth Polyblank, Vice President, Mastercard

Ruth is Vice President and Partnerships Lead at Mastercard, working with a global team to identify new insurance opportunities, leveraging Mastercard’s existing capabilities and assets, and extending the reach for Enterprise Partnerships into new verticals.

As a marketing and strategy expert within the insurance industry, Ruth holds over 18 years’ experience and has worked with successful Tech and Insurtech businesses to design insurance vertical propositions and growth strategies.

Ruth previously held overall leadership and management responsibility for performance and growth of Chubb’s SME portfolio; using digital delivery and technology to create products for new and alternative markets. She has also held senior positions at CLS, EY and Fusion.

As well as her professional accomplishments, Ruth is a regular speaker, author and mentor within the insurance sector, she co-authored ‘The InsurTech book’, was named by ‘WeAreTheCity’ a Top 50 women in Tech 2018 and is also an Ambassador for the CII Insuring Women’s Futures programme.

Adele Robertson, Proposition and Delivery Director, Barclays UK Insurance 

Over the past 17 years, Adele has developed a wealth of experience in Financial Services including Core Banking, Rewards and Insurance with Barclays and is passionate about making a real difference to customers.

Throughout her career Adele has driven strategy and change programmes, specifically focused on the development of distinctive, compelling and commercially driven customer propositions. Including the launch of 1st Contactless Debit card in the UK, Barclays Blue Rewards and most recently Barclays Simple Life Insurance.

Adele is responsible for the innovation, design and implementation of new propositions and development of the existing portfolio for Barclays UK Insurance.
Adele is an active business sponsor and mentor to FinTech and InsureTech through the Barclays Accelerator, powered by TechStars.

Adele is passionate about building the skills and experience of her team and colleagues she mentors. She is married with two children and works dynamically to integrate her work and life passions effectively

Gavin Sewell, CEO, honcho

Gavin Sewell is CEO and co-founder of honcho, the UK’s first reverse auction marketplace for financial services.
At honcho, Gavin leads the business’ strategic direction, and has recently spearheaded a successful crowd-funding campaign which saw honcho raise a third over their original target, to secure more than £800,000 in investment. The business is due to launch in Q3 of 2018.

Gavin’s career has seen him involved in some of the world’s leading financial organisations, including the role of Vice President of the Front Office Technology at Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley Prime Brokerage.

His career has also seen him found Antares Technologies, an alternative, MIF-authorised investment fund management company, and he was also recruited by Lloyds Bank to lend his expertise as an analyst developer.

Barry Smith

Barry Smith has dedicated his entire career to the financial services and insurance industries. As well as being the Chair of Neos, he is a Non-Executive Director of Uinsure (a digital intermediary principally in the IFA channel) and RB Sport & Leisure Holdings PLC, a consultant with Fenchurch Advisory Partners and an adviser to other companies. Up until very recently Barry was also a Non- Executive Director of many companies for Ageas in Turkey, Italy, Portugal and the UK.

His most recent role up to October 2015 was the Chief Operating Officer of Ageas Group with responsibility for the implementation of the Group’s strategy across its global Non-Life and Life activities in its four operating divisions in Asia, Continental Europe, Belgium and the UK . He was a member of the Management and Executive Committees.

Prior to his global Group role, Barry was CEO of Ageas UK for over 10 years overseeing a business transformation with significant profitable growth across the business by delivering on its multi-distribution strategy. This included:

– the increasing take up of products by brokers across Personal and Commercial lines
– the negotiation and establishment of the largest insurance partnership in the UK Market , Tesco Underwriting Ltd
– new insurance partnerships with some of the UK’s most trusted brands including John Lewis and Age UK
– successful acquisitions including Groupama UK

Under Barry’s leadership Ageas scooped numerous awards which included General Insurer of the Year, Business Transformation of the Year , Personal Lines Insurer of the Year and the Gold Standard Award.

Barry himself has been recognised and awarded by the insurance industry:

– The Industry Achievement Award at the British Insurance Awards
– The Insurance Times Chief Executives’ Chief Executive Award
– Deloitte’s Director of the Year for outstanding and inspirational leadership

Barry is a past President of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), chairing the Task Force that launched the influential Aldermanbury Declaration, setting new professional benchmark standards across the insurance market. He remains active in both the central CII and the local branch of Southampton where he also previously held the position of President where he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Barry played an active role in the Association of British Insurers, being a member of the ABI GIC Management Committee and a chair of both the Motor and Property Committees.

Joe Sultana, Managing Director, Broker Solutions, Applied Systems Europe

Joe Sultana is Managing Director, Broker Solutions, at Applied Systems Europe, the leading global provider of cloud-based software for the insurance industry. He is responsible for Applied’s UK broker business and for providing innovative products and services to support broker’s transformation to a digital business.

Joe has held senior positions in both the IT and broking sectors spanning 30 years and has unique insight into how to combine the unique business demands of a broker with the opportunities presented by technology. In his role, he is committed to the long-term success of the broker channel by ensuring brokers fully realise the benefits of continued technology advancement and adoption to thrive in today’s marketplace.

Julie Tongue, Digital Trading Manager, Allianz Insurance

Julie Tongue is Digital Trading Manager for Allianz Insurance plc, one of the largest general insurers in the UK. Julie has been with Allianz for 18 years, in her current role for two and a half years and is responsible for QuoteSME, Allianz’s extranet for Commercial Lines. Prior to her current role Julie has been an Account Manager and a Technical Manager for SME.

Julie has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Birmingham University.