Team Member Spotlight: Meet Jayma Towles
In this Team Member Spotlight, I sat down with Jayma Towles, Claims Product Delivery Manager, to talk about her role at Seibels, the insurance industry, and the advice she would give to someone trying to break into the industry.
Q: Describe your position at Seibels and role on the implementation team.
A: I am responsible for managing system implementations for our BPO and TPA claims customers, and providing every day production support. I started on the Guidewire project in February of 2016. Since that time, we’ve brought up two TPA companies, two BPO clients, and have three more in the pipeline.
Q: How long have you been in the insurance technology industry, and how have you seen it change?
A: I’ve been doing insurance system implementations since 1980. I’ve implemented systems throughout the US, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Spain, and Australia. All have had their challenges. I’ve done policy, billing, and claims. My first love is claims.
In terms of changes, I think the biggest things we see are more of the insured direct interaction (policyholders filing own claims). There have been other major technical advances, including the fact that we can be anywhere and working in a system. Before you used to have to come into the office all the time. There’s now ease of being able to be instantly connected.
Q: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working on implementations?
A: The most rewarding piece is the fact that you get to work with every person or unit in the company, from accounting, billing and policy to even facilities. They all become part of the team when you’re in an implementation because every aspect of the company is touched.
You get to meet a lot of people and see the big picture of what you’re trying to create for your company. It’s very motivating when you’re doing that. The great thing is that everybody in this company is so incredibly nice and great to work with. Everybody has always been very helpful and willing to go the extra mile on our team. The other thing that’s been good is the great management support. They’ve reflected it to the team.
For challenges: time, delivery, and money, and the balance between the three. That’s the toughest challenge you have with an implementation. Trying to get those three in balance.
Jayma then shared one of her favorite quotes, which speaks to the rewards and challenges one faces when undergoing implementation:
“To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often.” -House of Cards
Q: How do you think our new systems will impact our client’s businesses?
A: Well, I’m already getting feedback from the claims group that they like the system. Customers have said it’s more intuitive and gives them more flexibility. We’ve already been getting good feedback and they’re liking what they’re seeing. We’re constantly putting in improvements. We have the ability to do this because of the technology at Guidewire. We’ve been able to do a continuous delivery on a weekly basis with fixes. We can spin up a lot faster.
Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in joining this field?
Implementations are exciting. They’re thrilling because you’re building something. It’s an exciting ride. You’re up against time, deliveries, and development. There’s a lot of aspects that make it pretty intense. You have these cycles that you go through in the implementation. You’re building up in this crescendo to a live date.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about working at Seibels?
A: The people. Everybody is so friendly! Everybody seems happy! The management. I like where they’re headed. They got it planned out. You can see a true direction you’re trying to head with the company. I’ve got a true direction I need to be headed in, and they’re having the patience to let us do it right. I am fortunate that I have a strong team that knows how to do implementations and has a solid claims background. They already know what an implementation cycle is, how to anticipate what's next, and are always proactively ready for a next step.
When I first started, I found that Seibels was very entrepreneurial. I really like that aspect of it. It’s interesting to me that this company is 145+ years old, yet they have recognized they have to change and still have an entrepreneurial aspect in the business. That makes it very exciting. I feel like my team feels that, too. We’ve been working some incredibly long hours, but because we know we’re building something for the companies, it has real meaning to us. It’s not just about the money. We’re building something that’s going to be sustainable for companies.
Q: Now, some fun questions! What’s your favorite thing to do in Columbia?
A: Antique shopping on State Street.
Q: What’s your favorite lunch spot?
A: My desk! Usually get my quiet time during lunch.
Q: What’s your favorite app?
Q: What was your first job and the biggest lesson you learned from it?
A: My very first job out of college was a cost estimator for a construction company. This is where I learned how to do projects! There’s a methodology and sequential pattern in which things have to get done. It mirrors with implementations. You have to do both and then determine the costs associated with it. I think a lot of the practicality of what I learned in having to do project management as a cost estimator has really spilled over into what I do today.
Then I was employed by PMS right when they got started. I stayed with them for years. I actually worked in this building on the third floor. That was in the 1980’s. Feels like I came home. It’s good.
Q: Where is your favorite place that you lived?
A: Spain and Ireland. I spent four years in Spain and Ireland is just beautiful. Spain, it was the people. Overall, very interesting history.
Q: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
A: My maiden name is Overby, and Pleas Overby in claims is my cousin! We both took turns living in Columbia, SC and Richmond, VA, but never at the same time. Then one day, I saw Pleas at Seibels when I was working here, and we met for the first time EVER! After all these years!
Another fun fact is I have a son who is studying networking at Midlands Tech.
-As told to by: Stacey Cohl