Growing Talent in the Lab
Taruja Deshmukh joined Conner Strong & Buckelew more than 10 years ago after graduating from Temple University as a risk management and insurance major.
She’s now Conner Strong’s first insurtech solutions manager, pivoting from her role as an account executive managing a book of business to lead the firm’s insurtech efforts. In her role, Deshmukh specifically heads up labs. by Conner Strong, an innovation hub born from the firm’s partnership with BrokerTech Ventures. We recently caught up with Deshmukh to learn more about her BTV experience and to get her thoughts on how insurtech and innovation can help tackle the talent gap in the industry.
labs. by BrokerTech Ventures (BTV) is a network of employees within each of BTV’s partner agencies who work behind the scenes to help bring to light new technologies in the insurtech space. Whether it’s targeting client experience, operational efficiency or AI technology, this community of talent is leading out pilots and navigating challenges to create ultimate ease of adoption for the collaborating BTV agencies and their insurance company partners.
Tell us about your labs. by BTV experience—how you were selected to lead the team at CSB, what you've learned so far, and in what ways has labs. by BTV contributed to your firm’s goals of increased efficiency and enhanced customer experience.
I had volunteered a few years ago to lead our internal insurtech practice group based on my growing interest in that area, which ended up being a natural ramp up to my involvement with BrokerTech Ventures, as we launched BTV not too long after we formed our internal practice group. Our practice group had grown from just a handful of members to about 30 people—this was when I proposed to rethink our approach to handling insurtech initiatives. I used the “labs. by” concept that BTV created to bring that back to CSB as our centralized innovation hub where any and all employees would be able to get involved with different insurtech initiatives (both associated with BTV and outside of BTV) on a project basis, rather than as a fixed practice group.
labs. by BTV and the overall collaboration with the BTV brokers has helped CSB in many ways—we’re mutually benefiting from shared experience, wins/challenges, etc. Whether it’s on a pilot we’re conducting, or a vendor we’re working with, or general best practices. I’m learning a lot from both a technical and strategic perspective.