Podcast | Workplace Transformation

podcast

Podcast | Workplace Transformation

Next in our Transformation Series, guest host Lucy Pearman talks with Sophie Krynauw about the future of insurance and workplaces in a digital environment with global collaborative teams focusing on outcomes rather than process.

Sophie Krynauw is the Transformation Audit Director at Group Audit Zurich Insurance Group. And part-time triathlete. Sophie is responsible for the designing the future of audit strategy for Group Audit focusing on the interplay between customer outcomes and science based methods whilst balancing the need to digitalise and transform the skills of the function. Sophie is passionate about building a growth mindset and generating change from within, through an innovation passionate collaborative global team. Sophie is accountable to lead the competency networks which connects skills and training to the risks we seek to provide assurance over. Sophie joined Zurich at the start of the pandemic and fully embraced the value a digital collaborative work environment can bring to the future of work. As a mother of one and one more on the way, she sees the pandemic as an opportunity to challenge assumptions and change the way we work for a more sustainable, inclusive future. Before Zurich, Sophie spent 12 years working at KPMG where she was COO (Global Director) for Dynamic Risk Assessment, focusing on evolving the risk assessment methodology focusing on the connectivity of risk. Prior to this role, she focused on providing assurance (internal and external) services to the insurance sector in the UK and Australia.


Kimberley-Cole-50x50
Kimberley
This is Risky Women Radio – a show to connect, celebrate and champion women in risk, regulation, and compliance. Sharing insight and perspectives from the most influential members of our global Risky women network on the latest developments, we need to think about, the challenges we should all talk more about and the innovation we are most excited about governance, risk, and compliance. Bringing together the hundreds of senior women professionals already connected with a new emerging group of leading women and men. I’m Kimberley Cole, your chief risky woman.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Welcome back to our Transformation series on Risky Women Radio where we will be talking about change innovation, and taking a look ahead at the views from some amazing Risky Women on what’s next in the world of governance risk and compliance. I’m Lucy Pearman Global Head of Risk Transformation at Protiviti. And I have the pleasure to introduce today’s risky woman Sophie Krynauw. Sophie is a Director of Transformation at Zurich Insurance company. She is responsible for designing the future audit strategy for group audit focusing on the interplay between customer outcomes and science based methods whilst balancing the need to digitise and transform the skills of the function. Sophie as passionate about building a growth mindset and generating change from within to an innovative, passionate, collaborative, global team. Safe he is accountable to lead the competency networks which connects skills and training to the risks over which we seek to provide assurance. She join Zurich at the start of the pandemic and fully embrace the value of digital collaborative work environment to bring to the future of work as a mother of one and one more on the way she sees the pandemic as an opportunity to challenge assumptions and change the way we work for a more sustainable, inclusive future. Before Zurich, Sophie spent 12 years working at KPMG where she was COO for dynamic risk assessment, focusing on evolving the risk assessment methodology through the connectivity of risk. Prior to this role, she focused on providing assurance, both internal and external services to the insurance sector, in the UK and in Australia. Welcome Sophie.
Sophie
Thank you.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
I know I gave a brief bio but in your own words, Sophie, can you tell us your story?
Sophie
I’m happy to. Thank you very much for having me. So when I joined KPMG, all those years ago, it was literally days before Lehman Brothers collapsed. And I think that was quite important for my career, because everything off the back of it has been dramatic change that nothing has been stable, or the same as we came through one of the biggest financial crisis the world has seen. So I came out of university and like many peers was very unsure about what to do. So I thought, I’ll just join the world of audit, as it’s a safe place to start, and didn’t realise I’ll stay for 12 years in that sort of risk assurance space. At the time before Lehman’s crash, I desperately wanted to go into the cool world of banking, but ended up in insurance sector and actually was one of the best gifts that was given to me because it really opened up the world of how to think differently around risk, and how to think about providing assurance and safety nets for the world off the back of it. So I really thought that the industry have much more purpose than simply over the banking industry, maybe alluded to at the time. And so that that, for me was a great start to a career. The rest of the story really based around taking a wholeheartedly committed approach to saying yes to any opportunity that came about and probably said, yes to too many things at each time. But I was really fortunate to start my career in a company that was so varied, or do everything from learning the trade of external audit through to debt listings and large tenders, lots of international exposure, and also working with a young cohort of people. I think all of that came off the back of living in a world of change and lots of different things going on that needed assurance to bind them and responding to risk environment. KPMG also not only provided me a fabulous career, but lifelong friends, a husband, who gave me the option to go overseas is here, South Africa, Australia. That’s how I end up living in Australia for a couple of years, which is where my biggest leap in my career was undertaken. When I moved to Australia, I was given the opportunity to be a leader of the insurance audit function. And that’s really where I have my first opportunity to really connect people change management strategy as well as to the risk topic and how you can bring those sort of chained ideas of leadership together to really drive great outcomes not only from a business perspective But also from a risk outcome perspective. I also got to work with an amazing partner called Dr Andries Terblanche during that time, who really opened my eyes up to the world of data and tech led thinking out of the box thinking academia, and that really want to take on the role of the COO for dynamic risk assessment, I really started to build some of the future leadership skills and change skills that I do today, in my current role, because we really started with a blank piece of paper and said, if you wanted to do the world risk management differently, what would you do and what would you really change and that was sort of a problem that we wanted to solve, as we built out the dynamic risk assessment product. And really, the last three years I had I at KPMG was a total whirlwind of building a piece of technology and building a business that started off in Australia in one country, at the point that I moved on from KPMG, we were in 23 countries, and really helping companies think differently about the world of risk and how it can play out. I think, for me, leaving KPMG on a high, we actually put a paper up to the World Economic Forum in Davos back in 2020, now. 2020 is a bit of a blur I’m sure for everybody. And that really, to me was a really great way to move on from our company and move on to where I joined Zurich, at the beginning of March in 2020. So a really varied career, just saying yes to exciting things that sort of came about, and really finding my passion in all of them, which is around change and growth and transformation, and particularly in the risk space.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
That’s a really interesting background, you’ve got there, Sophie. You mentioned, you joined Zurich at the start of the pandemic. What was it like transitioning into a new role during the beginning of COVID?
Sophie
Professionally, I think it was an amazing time to start a new job, especially someone who has been bought in to transform a function that, in theory, the internal audit world can be quite traditional. But everybody was in this amazing mindset of, well, we have to survive, we have to do something different. Because if we can’t, then we won’t be able to do our job and play the role that we play in the risk environment. So professionally, it was a great time because I think we made some large steps forward, that might have taken me two or three years professionally to try and do if you have to manufacture environment to embrace digital in a different way, or embrace technology or cross border working in a completely different way. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything harder, trying to start any job during a pandemic. And I had a two year old at home at the time, as well. And my husband’s in operational risk for the best of banks. So he was very distracted during sort of day to day management. But all of that stuff, I think comes back down to really knowing what your personal resilience is about, and digging deep. And I reflected at the end of last year and thinking that was exceptionally hard. But it’s one of those moments when you really test what you are about and come off the back of it thinking I’m much clearer on who I am as a person and what I could deliver on the back of it. I think in the long run professionally, I have a big impact.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, I think you raise a good point that the pandemic was certainly a good trigger point for change, which which can take years and years. And also a focus away from just a digital transformation and moving much more towards people and culture transformation, as we kind of all embrace new ways of thinking new ways of working. So Sophie keen to understand who inspires you? Are there any risky women in general that you feel very inspired by?
Sophie
I actually was really struggle with these kind of questions, because it really depends on the moment and what you’re trying to do. And I’m actually going to give a shout out to my sister in law, who’s inspired me recently. So last week, she stood at the New York Stock Exchange with her leadership team. And they rang the opening bell for trading as a company listed. And you could not have predicted this ending for her because seven years ago, she decided fitness was her passion. And she started to work as a receptionist at a gym in London. And she really committed on her career that she wanted to be part of and genuinely a part of. And worked especially hard and a took a lot of personal risk. moving countries, taking roles that was stretching for her doing lots of different things, but was really motivated by personal passion. And then I think, to me, it was very inspiring, because it played out that if you really put your mind to it and dream big. Anybody can you stand in front of the crowd, at the stock exchange, as you list your company. So not necessarily in the risk base, but I think that can be applied to the sort of the lessons learned and applied to anybody in that space.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Taking a risk.
Sophie
Yeah, taking a risk. I’m sure there’s days when she was like, What have I done? Why am I doing this? But now it’s all paid off.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic story.
 
We’re going to move into our expert opinion, which this month is on the future of workforce, and how to embed sustain a new organisational structure during a pandemic. So something very relevant to what you’re trying to do at Zurich. So before we dive into our main section, can you tell us a bit more about the work that you’re doing at Zurich and how you’re embracing the change of the digital environment?
Sophie
Yeah, definitely. As my introduction sort of set out, I’m responsible for defining the future of audit what we’re called within Zurich. And the reason we’ve done that and my role exists is because they recognised the importance that the world that we live in is fundamentally changing, it’s the pace of change is growing faster. So for risk professionals and internal audit lens in my world, to remain completely relevant, we need to think differently about how we want the future to look and how to vision that. So I spent a lot of last year, stepping back and standing in the potential of the future of what could assurance look like in a digital environment where the first line is completely digitalized, when we’re not looking at what our traditional control environment and the control environment is digital. So we’ve built a sort of a change strategy around four pillars, one focusing on outcomes rather than process because actually, following a process lens doesn’t always mitigate the risks, we’re looking at. Introduction of scientific methods to basically saying, what we want to do has to be done with a bit more scientific rigor to it than before of just picking a sample of three, for example, we also need to be able to digitalise our own value chain to make sure we’re effective and efficient. And the most important one for me, as well as making sure we build a sustainable culture, and people will develop off the back of it. Because digital transformation is not just about implementing the tech, but bringing the people who could make the judgments make the decisions off the back of it. So the two main areas that I’ve really been focusing on is what we call competency networks. But essentially, Zurich Insurance, internal audit function is across 19 countries. And we’re fairly small because of the scale of our first line. But we realized that we had all the skills that we needed to mitigate the risks, but they weren’t always at the pace that we needed them. So we’ve spent a lot of time building these global collaborative teams based around skills matching the risks, and growth opportunities, rather than just be saying, well, this audit is to be done in the UK, therefore, these are the people we’ve got to pick from, let’s deliver it in that environment. So that’s a big change in working. And the second one is around harboring change from within. So rather than the main, typically more traditional top down, or this is what needs to be changed, because we are the leadership team and saying, well, you’re the team on the ground doing this every day, how do we create an environment and mechanism for you to feed it back. We can then act quickly on the ideas that return very quickly, and make the environment comparatively better on a continual basis, rather than relying on those big bang changes. So a lot of the energy, both of those activities to be successful has been around mindset change. And the lesson learned from the pandemic and why so when I came on board, was actually everybody was really committed to implementing a digital mindset change and shift. So that’s what really I’ve been trying to harbor, that energy to keep flowing into continual change, and making sure people don’t see the effort around 2020 is a one off effort. But just something that’s incredibly essential to keep doing for the next, well forever, really, because the environment is going to continue to change.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, you raised some good points. And it’s really, I think, a good trigger point for turning the word agile into a mindset and innovation into a mindset rather than a method and having that continuous change. So in your mind, Sophie, and in a truly transformed state, in utopia, what does the future workforce look like?
Sophie
I got a text to a girlfriend the other day that was basically say, How am I going to balance it all? Or how am I going to like get my young kids from school? How am I going to keep growing the career or build? How am I going to do X Y Zed? And I think we can really transform the world of work, and how people want to engage the workplace. We’ve created environment and these questions aren’t raised everyday in everyday life. And we’ve kind of been brave enough to address some of the structural challenges that currently exist through digital and through the way that we think about what delivering to work really means. My utopian I suppose that I tried to describe it to an environment, that slightly already exists. Think about the one with Uber. And you sort of continue meeting supply and demand through a piece of technology. Wouldn’t. in a world of work, be amazing where you’re very aware the skills you have as an individual and companies can say, well, we’re looking for this skill for this amount of time. And you might continue work for that organisation continually. But you have much more of a marketplace for what you can commit to at that point in time, and what what you want to get out of it, as well. So these ideas of fixed lifetime contracts that we have right now, might still exist, but you would exchange value in a very different way. And I think addressing those structural changes will enable this future digital world really to come alive. So it’ll take time, it’s slow, but it will really change the value proposition that work really means and how you deliver success off the back of it.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, I would agree with that. I’m a great believer in the same way that from a technology perspective, particularly with the digital agenda, and organisations have created an ecosystem of alliances, I do think employees will go in that direction. So you’ve got subject matter expertise you can provide to an ecosystem of employers, you don’t just have to sit on one desk, you know, in one organisation day in and day out. In terms of your industry, I guess, what are you seeing leading organisations do to successfully adapt to the new kind of way of thinking the new post pandemic environment and the structures that their are putting in place around it?
Sophie
I think the best stuff I’m seeing is around large organisations really just committing to that the fact that feature looks different. And they have to do something that’s really going to challenge some of the assumptions that we have. One of the things that really loured me to Zurich as a great organisation was workforce sustainability is one of our core mandates within how we want to run our organisation. And so you see that incredibly important in insurance industry that the risk is wholeheartedly changing, that we need to think differently about how to solve that problem, which is setting up new ways of working and those structures and challenging, what we do is really important. And I don’t think it’s going to be this massive silver bullet, Lucy, I actually think the structures already exist, but it’s about picking and choosing between which ones work well for your organization, and to being comfortable blending them. The network organization you see in the tech industry works really well, that traditional governance structures work really well. But it’s knowing when to say this is a more hierarchical outcome we need to employ or there’s some more network outcome need to apply. But I don’t think it has to be as binary as being on either end of the spectrum, it can be a bit of both.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And if we look at it in a slightly different way, as an employee, how do you make sure you maintain your currency in this kind of fast paced, changing environment we’re all starting to work in?
Sophie
It may be sort of a really obvious thing to say. But having a curious mind and wanting to build your own skills, is critically important. The mega trends of skills are going to change over the next 10 years, it’s going to be around digital, big data savvy, basic tech enablers like Power BI, they’re just going to be part of the day to day, there’s not going to be an environment where well, I choose not to use it, you have to be able to demonstrate these skills. So I think for employees to really flourish in that environment, about picking a way to integrate learning into your everyday activities. So it’s not this big, scary thing that you’ve got to suddenly change become the best at data science, for example, but say, well, today, every day for rest of my career, I’ll try something new every day just to see how it plays out. Otherwise, the task is going to be too big for anybody. I see graduates coming through and I think, wow, I left University less than sort of 15 years ago. But the way they think about the world, the way that they solve problems, the skills they have they’re different to what I have and then I’m sure the same plays out for people 15 years more senior to myself. And so everybody in the workforce has to think differently about how they remain relevant. But I think just apply a curious mind and really just wanting to slowly change is really important. And I’m taking it in a compounding way.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Very good. So we’re going to move into your rants and revelations Sophie.
 
From a revelation perspective, what was your lightbulb moment? What was the thing that shaped some of the career choices that you’ve made?
Sophie
When I was doing at KPMG I used to sort of look at the world partnership and think it was this magical place of these people were magical skills. And they were just a different breed of people to me. And I kind of put them on this massive pedestal. But I had a sort of a lightbulb moment when I just realised they were people who committed very hard to a career path and continue to learn and grow, and had actually just been doing it longer. Removing that sort of mental hierarchy that is in place, it’s been a real eye opener for me. And actually, that was sort of my biggest career revelation, and especially when I took on the Zurich role, being one of the younger members of the leadership team, and just recognising that I was chosen for this role because I had a very different skill set and past. And actually the combination of bringing them together is the secret sauce, not one person being this savior of the world, or who’s going to be this amazing leader, it’s about knowing the role that you can play, and how the combination of different journeys leads to the great outcome.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yeah, that resonates with me, personally. It’s all about the team, the collaboration that many, many minds make great things.
Sophie
Exactly.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
And what’s your rant? If you could change anything? What would it be?
Sophie
Sheryl Sandberg, but one of my biggest brands is actually the book Lean In, I feel that women especially, and not just in the risk industry, but women professionals who want to have a professional career, have a sort of unimaginable, toxic pressure to be incredibly productive at every aspect of their lives. From you know, career progression, raising children, managing a home, all those sort of things. And I actually think if we could change one thing, that was better for everybody was to put less pressure on women to be everything to everybody and just say, it’s okay that today, I’m good at this. And tomorrow, I’ve dropped the ball on that. But collectively, we’re all heading in a positive direction. And just being a bit kinder to ourselves. If I could change anything from for women in the workplace, that would be it.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Very good. So now for rapid fire round.
 
In one word, what do you see as the top priority for the year ahead.
Sophie
Reflection.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
And what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sophie
I wanted to be an astronaut. And I feel the dream is closer now that Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are up there!
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
And how would you describe you in one word?
Sophie
Future focused. If you hyphenate it.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
Yes. And Whom do you most admire?
Sophie
I would say anybody who fully knows their own mind. I would love to have that full confidence of being liberated from, that mental ease you have from being truly connected to who you are as a person. And when reflecting on what I wanted to say in this I realised that an unhealthy amount of time, reliving outcomes and questioning if I’d done it differently, and I think if you just really knew who you were, that would be a lot easier.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
And what podcasts or books would you recommend to any upcoming risk and compliance or transformation leader?
Sophie
Okay, are you reading Noise by Daniel Kahneman. And I would recommend anything on behavioral economics. I’m saying how people are interacting with the the more traditional economic environment around you will set you up in a good stead for what’s going to come and how to think differently about managing and working in a transformed environment.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
And what advice would you give to women pursuing careers in financial services and in transformation?
Sophie
Transformation is everywhere. And I don’t think you need to have the word transformation in your job title, to really have a large impact on influencing and changing the world that you living in. So I really would just say, make the most of the opportunity that you see in your day job, say yes, challenge assumptions. And really just think differently about the world and not be afraid to speak out if you think it could be done better or differently.
Lucy-Pearman-50x50
Lucy
All very good advice. Thank you for that, Sophie. So that brings this episode of Risky Women Radio to an end. But I’m very excited to continue our transformation series journey. Thank you so much, Sophie, for joining us today and for your thoughts and valuable insights.
Sophie
My pleasure. It’s been great.
Kimberley-Cole-50x50
Kimberley
Thank you for listening to this exciting episode of rescue women radio, to connect, champion and celebrate women in risk regulation and compliance. I’m Kimberly Cole, based in Hong Kong. For more information on the risky women global network, head to our website, and the Episode Notes and please be part of the ongoing conversation by subscribing to this podcast, connecting with us at risky women on Twitter, or even reaching out to me directly by email.
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