Fred Tavan Of Legal & General America On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Build a data warehouse to centralize and standardize all the data you need to be successful.

Digital transformation has become a crucial component for businesses striving to stay competitive and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving landscape. As technology continues to shape industries and redefine business models, companies must adapt and leverage digital tools and strategies to unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. In this interview series, we aim to explore various aspects of digital transformation, including best practices, challenges, success stories, and expert insights. We are talking to thought leaders, industry experts, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, and executives who have firsthand experience in driving digital transformation initiatives within their organizations. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Fred Tavan.

Fred Tavan is the SVP and Chief Pricing Officer at Legal & General America where he leads actuarial, underwriting, and data science innovations. He works closely with distribution partners both internally and externally to disrupt the Term insurance marketplace in the pursuit of offering good value life insurance coverage to as many US families as possible.

Prior to joining LGA, Fred was the Chief Analytics Officer and Chief Innovation Officer at Vida Capital. At Vida, he was an innovation leader in the alternative asset class capital markets by blending actuarial science, risk management, product design, underwriting, and advanced/predictive analytics to develop strategy and revolutionize underwriting in the longevity risk space using AI.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started out as a computer engineer with work terms in the airline, flight simulators, and telecommunications industries. Upon graduation I decided to become an actuary and did a second degree in Actuarial Science. That was followed by my first full time job at a life insurance company where I redesigned the Group Life & Health product line valuation system with lots of new automation using digital data.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Prepared spreadsheets for company’s tax area but didn’t have a feel for the reasonable magnitude of the numbers so needed help from others to point out where numbers didn’t make sense. Lesson learned is reconciliations are very important and make sure to have SMEs help when not doing automation in your own field.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Not really. I always tended to be ahead of my bosses in terms of innovation and growing my own skill set. In the actuarial track bosses have to be supportive of writing the exams to become a Fellow. Every time I changed companies, my new boss gave me a new opportunity to leverage my past experience and skill set to do something new.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
  • Helped me realize that best way to be effective and successful in life is to be principle-centered and stay anchored with those principles.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Yes. Using Machine Learning to improve operational efficiencies by removing repetitive work that is tedious to do and time consuming. People will enjoy their jobs more once tedious tasks are removed and they can focus on more value-added work.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. Digital transformation can mean many things to many people, from your perspective, how do you define digital transformation in your industry?

Moving away from old manual processes that were based more on human judgement towards new processes that are based on data -driven decision making. As part of this digitizing data across the organization and capturing it at the right points, allows for process re-engineering that improves the nature of people’s role, the top line and the bottom line.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

Knowledge based companies have much to gain as much of their business models are based on data from various sources. However, all companies can benefit from Digital Transformation. Examples of other companies are the New England Patriot football team, and MGM Casinos. Both have used data, digital transformation, and algorithms to optimize their businesses.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Yes. You need the right talent. The talent has to be cross-disciplinary and contain a lot of domain knowledge. The culture of the teams needs to include people not afraid of change and willing to try new things under an agile framework. You can help resolve these by hiring the right talent and forming the right teams to push forward with change.

Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”?

1 . Identify quick-win areas where digital transformation can show improvements right away and start there.

2 . Figure out where the data resides in the company and make sure the right data is captured.

3 . Build a data warehouse to centralize and standardize all the data you need to be successful.

4 . Hire Data Scientists and surround them with domain experts who will work with them as a team to uncover business insights that will optimize your business performance.

5 . Scale up your quick-wins and start to solve more complex problems with digital transformation because data-driven business decision making has been shown to be the most optimal form compared to other types of decision-making and has increased EPS for many companies who have adopted this approach.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

Select the right-minded people to get the journey started and build a culture around them by showing successive rounds of successful delivery.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” by Thomas Eddison. This quote emphasizes the idea that success is largely dependent on hard work and execution rather than just have a great idea or strategy. I have always worked very hard and make sure I’m focused on execution to deliver actions that create change.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can follow me on LinkedIn:

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.