Meet Alice Hu Wissing, Vice President, Property Technical Manager Large Property, Sompo GRS
What is your backstory? Tell us about your path to Sompo International.
During law school I realized that I didn’t want to practice law in the traditional law firm setting and that I wanted to pivot towards the corporate side. After graduation I joined Zurich as part of their Global Associate Program. This was a one-year developmental program through various key business units and lines of business. I spent several months at home office in Zurich, Switzerland and did a claims rotation in Sydney, Australia. Post program I became a property underwriter in their Global Corporate business unit. What was supposed to be a rotation has grown into a career that has lasted more than a decade. I’ve moved to different carriers and taken on underwriting roles with more seniority and responsibilities, but I’ve never wanted to stray far from the deals and insureds. I love working in the marketplace. I joined Sompo Global Risk Solutions (GRS) in March 2018 because I was attracted to the startup culture and the opportunity to be a part of a stellar franchise within the industry.
Give us three words to describe Sompo International.
Diverse, Team-Oriented and Growing.
What is a trend you feel is impacting the industry and more specifically, your role at the moment?
With the industry focusing on automation and faster flow underwriting, I’m seeing more reliance on models as the end all be all for underwriting. This is troubling because if we relinquish underwriting judgment, Artificial Intelligence are going to take over our jobs sooner than we think. This is also great disservice to the insureds because we could be missing out on so many other components of an account that cannot be modeled. You can’t model a strong risk management culture and you can’t model insured loyalty for a carrier. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a critical place for modeling within underwriting strategy, but the underwriter needs to stay in the driver’s seat. In my role as Property Technical Manager, I encourage the team to look at account referrals holistically beyond the modeling metrics and to take into consideration those factors cannot be modeled, but are still very important to underlying profitability.
What advice do you have for prospective Sompo International candidates?
Demonstrate your initiative. Sompo is growing at such a fast clip that we need people to be ready to hit the ground running from day one and make an impact. Think carefully about role that you are applying for and come ready to your interview with ideas and examples of how you can add value to the role and move Sompo forward as an organization.
Think back to your college graduation day. What is one thing you would tell yourself then?
I was disheartened on a graduation day at UCLA because I had been waitlisted for a fellowship program I had been pursuing and was jobless. I didn’t really allow myself to celebrate that special day with my friends and family. Come a week later, I received a call that I had come off the waitlist. I am grateful for that experience because it taught me that no matter what hard things are going on, you have to be present for the positive things that bring joy, especially friends and family. I also realized that things that cause stress and concern will usually resolve themselves in time. I’ve carried this lesson throughout my professional career. On the toughest days at work, I’ll make sure that evening to make time for fun by dancing with my kids or playing fetch with our goldendoodle.
What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
I would be the neighborhood dog walker. People have brought home so many pandemic pups in my area that this would actually be a very lucrative venture.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I swam in the Hudson River as part of the New York City Triathlon. I did not encounter any dead bodies in the water, and I did not develop any strange mutant powers afterwards.