“In My Mind It’s All About the People”: An Interview with Vertafore’s CTO Greg Ingino

Greg Ingino, Chief Technology Officer for Vertafore, is laser-focused on developing his people and solving complex problems. As North America’s InsurTech leader for more than 50 years, Vertafore is the software solutions partner for independent insurance agents and brokers, carriers, and MGAs, and is transforming the industry and providing career opportunities worldwide. As the CTO, Ingino is excited about the massive challenges that need to be addressed and is leveraging his worldwide team to disrupt and change the way the industry operates.

After majoring in environmental health and safety with a minor in computer science, Ingino began working for Spectrolab, a company providing hazardous waste management, as an environmental engineer. Quickly realizing he was more interested in technology than he was in telling people to wear safety glasses, he decided to make a career switch.

After approaching the director of MIS, or Management Information Systems, Ingino was given his first test. He was handed four books on Windows and was told to read them and to prepare for an exam. Finishing all four books in just over one week, he passed the exam and got started in his new career as a helpdesk technician.

From there, Ingino worked his way up in his computer career and as this was taking place in the pre-2000 internet boom, the timing proved to be filled with opportunity. Next, he transitioned to a role with a $2 billion mortgage lender and worked his way up to become the Senior VP of IT Operations.

Ingino then held CTO and CIO positions with various companies, always learning, fine-tuning his skills, and gaining invaluable experience. One such role was working at Active Network for eight years as CIO, managing technology and multiple operating units. After the company was sold to Global Payments, he took about six months off before making his next move.

Shortly thereafter, Ingino received an offer for the CTO role at Vertafore. Although he had never worked in the insurance industry, he always liked complex problems and was able to quickly adapt to the new challenges that were posed.

OPPORTUNITY FOR AUTOMATION

With a fascination for skyscrapers and buildings growing up, designing, architecting, and building software seemed to be a natural fit for Ingino. One of the most rewarding aspects of technology, he feels, is seeing that idea come to life and be useful to customers.

As it relates to the insurance industry and his role at Vertafore, Ingino states, “There’s a ton of opportunity for automation. And I really see how the insurance industry is exceptionally primed for innovative technologies to really change the way that insurance does business today.”

From interactions between insurance carriers and agents to the number of insurance applications, forms, and other work involved in insurance distribution, there is a tremendous opportunity to reduce the workload and disrupt the industry as we know it. He feels that Vertafore is uniquely positioned to do just that by having the scale and connectivity to different carriers, agencies, and areas of the business. But to disrupt, he acknowledges that the different players in the insurance industry need to bring their tech stack and data together.

Ingino recognizes that Vertafore’s customers are really challenging the team to solve problems. This desire for their customers to partner with the Vertafore team is a major catalyst for solving the most pressing issues within the industry today. These problems became much clearer to Ingino as he got his first year of experience under his belt at Vertafore.

“Once I got in here and spent a year understanding the technology and some of the challenges that they were facing, it actually became clearer about how big of an opportunity there is,” said Ingino. To meet those challenges, he is focused on building and developing a great team.

A TEAM-BASED ENVIRONMENT

When asked how big of a role the people on his team play in Vertafore’s ability to meet disruptive innovation, Ingino mentions, “In my mind, it’s all about the people.” He goes on to say that a common vision and direction is critical and often missing in organizations. As a leader, he tries to bring the vision and make sure it is aligned with corporate goals and customer needs. Ingino wants to ensure his people have the resources and tools they need to be successful and happy.

To do that, the technology team must educate the entire organization on the what, and more importantly, the why behind their decisions. Part of their jobs is to be translators, taking technology terms and details and explaining them in a way everyone can understand. Ingino plays a big role in managing technical levels and details but he is making sure the rest of the organization is supportive of what they are doing.

As for the company culture, it is very much a team-based environment at Vertafore. The driving force behind decisions is how to serve their customers. He has found that everyone on the team is willing to work hard and values diverse perspectives and backgrounds, knowing these are the cornerstones of creativity and innovation.

With a solid culture and desire to do right for the customer as a foundation, Ingino is providing a myriad of opportunities for his organization. In March and April 2021, there were 42 promotions on his team alone. As people move rapidly within the technology space and roles, Vertafore has one of the lowest attrition rates within development in the history of the company.

As Vertafore continues to focus on employee development and invest in senior-level resources to mentor and train other positions, the organization is in a great spot to excel. In addition to their United States-based staff, Vertafore also acquired a software division and 550 developers in India. Ingino leads the Center of Excellence for that team and expects to grow to more than 780 developers very soon. What excites him is how the developers in India are working well together and are truly a part of their global team.

EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT

Some of the key aspects to thrive and excel at Vertafore are having openness, being strong at teamwork and working in a group environment, and having a positive attitude. As Ingino states, “It’s not always about technical skills.” He is always on the lookout for people who have capabilities and potential versus just experience.

Ingino also has a lofty goal of developing all future positions from the bottom up and never having to hire from the outside. Although he acknowledges that this will likely never happen, he and his team are doing a great job developing their employees which is building and solidifying that company culture.

The leadership philosophy is built around development and vision, accountability, and communication. As a previous mentor had told him, “Hire stallions and feed them oats,” in other words, to hire great people and help them succeed. Ingino holds weekly meetings with his team to discuss projects, to figure out any problems and roadblocks, and to remove those roadblocks so that his team can succeed.

As for the future of Vertafore, Ingino is excited about what is to come. “It’s all starting to come together now. Everything that we have been preparing for and the decisions we have made over the last three years are all now starting to come together. And it is going to be a super exciting time, not just for Vertafore but for our customers as well.”