Meet the people who help our clients design and build innovative technology solutions to benefit their businesses as well as their customers: our subject matter experts aka SMEs. In this series, we’ll discover how they came to work in the industry and the changing role of technology in our lives. We’ll also get a glimpse into what makes them tick as people outside of work.
Today’s guest is Sumita Davé, Delivery Partner for the insurance industry who joined the Endava family as part of the great team at Business Agility. Sumita has worn many hats in her career – often at the same time! – but she has all the depth and experience as well and leads delivery programmes to success for our clients and our people.
Welcome, Sumita, it’s great to have you here. What has brought you into the tech industry and the insurance sector?
There were several things that have influenced my decision to work in this area. Firstly, at university, I studied maths and computer science, and I’ve always been a person who likes logic and binary problems (right/wrong answers). I’ve also learnt to be creative in problem-solving, but that wasn’t as natural. Straight after uni, I had the opportunity to enter an IT graduate scheme with a large insurer, RSA. The tech landscape was changing fast at the time – and it still is! I love the pace of change, and it keeps me on my toes – I get bored easily!
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
There are so many to choose from. The biggest innovation that I’ve experienced, and one that’s helped influence me in my career, would be the drive to put the power into the hands of the end customer. I strongly believe that technical changes should be business-driven and not purely IT-based change. Also, the app revolution has been amazing – with high expectations from consumers.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing, and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Talent. I don’t like the word ‘resource’ – ‘talent’ is a better description. As someone who is responsible for people and understanding their skills, ambition, strengths, and talent, I think the biggest challenge and conversely the biggest opportunity is attracting talent and then retaining that talent and giving people the right career opportunities. Companies are often measured by the quality of the people that work there.
Also, adapting to home and hybrid working – this isn’t a temporary change anymore. We can see that hybrid working is becoming the norm; post-Covid lifestyle and the relationship between home life and work life has forever changed. Businesses need to recognise this and create an environment that maintains – and exceeds! – output as well as work hard to create the teamwork and collaboration that used to come from working in an office together.
What Business Agility project are you most proud of and why?
There are a few – I’m always proud of the work our teams do. We succeed because of the quality of work, the approach, and attitude of the teams; this is where we gain our reputation for excellence.
One particular programme that comes to mind was our work with a large London Market insurer. This was a complete soup-to-nuts implementation – a full transformation programme, with many challenges and hurdles. Our attitude and spirit never wavered – even in the face of a major issue involving multi-currency exchange in the software. We had to create this complex functionality in the product from scratch – and we managed to have our solution implemented in the following release! We ended up with a very successful go-live, an award from the vendor for innovation, a glowing reference, and a well-cemented reputation as experts.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Challenges are part of programme delivery. Experience means you can avoid or mitigate the usual challenges, but some issues are so ingrained in a company that they result in a setback… but with the right communication in place, these can be overcome, or at least the impact can be minimised.
Specifically, I’ve seen Agile working in an insurance company where the culture and mindset still being waterfall caused ongoing challenges. My takeaway from over the years is that getting clarity and agreement at the beginning – and most importantly, continuing that communication and ensuring clarity throughout the programme – is key. We have to watch out for old habits trying to creep back in and, if necessary, re-educate the teams throughout the programme.
Now, let’s finish with some more personal questions, shall we? If you were not working as Delivery Partner, what would you be doing instead?
Good question! Honestly, I love a party – so maybe event organising! I am organised and enjoy juggling multiple things at the same time, so if the end result is a party, wouldn’t that be great?
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
Oh, I like to think there are many! Agile methodology, business analysis, planning, programme delivery, critical success factors… The complex programmes we deliver give you exposure to so many areas that require calm, logical explanation – so I’m used to having to stand up at a moment’s notice and present!
What was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Committing to regular exercise! I know the theory and I know that motivation comes after you start, but still…
Finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows! (Jay-Z)
Big thanks to Sumita for joining us and the great insights. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!