EP 03 – Rhonda Marcucci – Vice President, Innovation at Gallagher – Pretend Like You Are From Missouri


Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Energetic thought leader who consistently contributes significantly to all segments of the industry. Big picture thinker with the ability to grasp/integrate details into a cohesive “whole.” Has a high success rate in bringing together stakeholders with diverse interests to produce win-win outcomes supporting strategic organizational objectives. Expert industry resource for employers, service providers, broker/consultants, carriers and investors seeking strategic guidance and assistance with an operational roadmap. Specialties: 1. Visions what’s coming next in the industry and its impact on stakeholders and opportunities. 2. Identify strategy and execute against it. 3. Leverage existing assets--conception to operational. 4. Maintain extensive knowledge of the employee benefits marketplace and the HR technology sector. TECHNICAL STUFF: Senior financial and operations executive with extensive experience in finance, accounting, administration, strategic planning, information systems, sales and marketing, and operations. Built a successful boutique consultancy firm serving the mid-market benefits enrollment technology and outsourcing industry; with expertise in sourcing advice, service provider capability audits, healthcare exchanges, and strategy and partnership work for entities wishing to enter or further penetrate the benefits administration market.

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InsurTech Amplified had the pleasure speaking to ⁠Rhonda Marcucci ⁠– Vice President, Innovation at ⁠Gallagher. Rhonda has an impressive background, starting as a CPA and later venturing into the insurance business and startups. She eventually started her own consulting firm, which she later sold to Gallagher. Now, as the VP of Innovation, she focuses on helping employers and their employees in areas such as health and welfare, financial well-being, and HR.

During our conversation, Rhonda shared some interesting insights into her role and how she stays up-to-date with the latest technology and industry trends. She emphasized the importance of building connections and maintaining an ecosystem of people to consistently exchange ideas and information. Additionally, she highlighted the value of reading extensively and being curious about what’s happening in the market. However, she also acknowledged that keeping up with everything can be challenging and that it’s essential to acknowledge when you don’t know something and seek expert advice.

We delved into the topic of expertise and how to identify true experts in a field. Rhonda stressed the significance of experience, scars on one’s back from navigating business cycles, and a deep understanding developed over time. She also touched on the impact of technology and communication tools on expertise, noting that while they offer great benefits, they can sometimes hinder nuanced conversations and the context that comes from live interactions.

We then discussed the mindset required for innovation and the challenges of changing the mindset within an organization. Rhonda shared her experience of working with teams that were initially resistant to change or skeptical about adopting new technologies. Overcoming these obstacles often involves showing tangible benefits, addressing concerns, and fostering a culture of innovation within the organization. She also emphasized the importance of storytelling in explaining and communicating innovation effectively.

The conversation led us to explore the illusion of understanding and the limitations of artificial intelligence (AI). Rhonda mentioned a project she’s working on that involves AI tools for contract analysis. While these tools offer efficiency, she highlighted the need for human expertise to ensure accuracy and contextual understanding. We agreed that there are certain aspects of wisdom and judgment that machines cannot replicate.

We also touched on the impact of organizational culture on innovation. Rhonda praised Gallagher’s culture of innovation and the emphasis on talent acquisition during mergers. She emphasized the importance of living the company’s culture and how it should be palpable in interactions with employees and partners.

Some of the interesting topics that Rhonda discussed:

  • Connecting external innovation to internal stakeholders
  • Creating her own ecosystem of expertise
  • How expertise results from experience and live conversations
  • The importance of storytelling in the context of innovation
  • The impact of changing mindsets
  • How to work with early-stage companies and why

Some other titles we considered for this episode:

  1. I Can Almost Predict What Is Going to Happen
  2. There Is So Much to Be Learned From History
  3. That’s the Culture I Want to Be a Part Of
  4. I Think We Need to Be Paying Attention to X
  5. We Have the Power to Influence the Product

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