CLARA Analytics recently announced the appointment of Dave Hollander to its board of directors. With more than 30 years of industry experience, in roles involving both broad business and IT strategy as well as hands-on leadership and implementation of major operational change programs, Dave brings a wealth of connections and insights to CLARA.
We sat down to talk with Dave about what excites him about CLARA and the opportunities ahead. Here is an excerpt of our conversation.
Welcome aboard, Dave! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Thank you. I’m very excited to be part of CLARA’s extended family.
I’ve been quite fortunate in my career to work with three great, markedly different companies, starting out with Accenture. I joined the company when it was known as the consulting division of Arthur Anderson for the technology space. Accenture is where I got my introduction to insurance. It was a wonderful experience because I had the chance to do the hands-on heavy lifting involved in instituting big change programs, which was a lot of fun.
After that, I took the CEO role at a startup based in London, which we expanded into the U.S. and later into more than 20 countries. The process of building out the company was fascinating to me and taught me all about the world of private equity and venture.
Then I was invited to build the global insurance practice at EY. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. It was a chance to bring on outstanding talent from connections and relationships I’d made all over the world, and I wanted to see how well and how big we could grow the practice. Throughout my eight-plus years there, my team was focused on big change programs and using technology to fuel that change. We expanded on what was already a strong actuarial and risk practice and moved it into the technology and operational space.
Today, I am privileged to serve on a number of boards, including CLARA, and feel really blessed both professionally and personally, along with my lovely wife and two wonderful daughters.
What do you look for when joining a board?
First and foremost, it’s the quality of the people — the leadership team, the investors. There has to be a strong team in place that knows how to work together. I also look for company stories around growth and building for the future.
And of course, I love the organizations that have a chance to create something meaningful. There are not many times in our lives when we get the opportunity to contribute to advancing an industry in a manner that benefits millions of people. To me, this means identifying companies that possess a true understanding of their business and the problems they are trying to solve.
I found CLARA to be very well aligned with my priorities because of its stellar team, capacity for and approach to growth, as well as its focus on really clear business problems.
What impressed you about CLARA?
Focus matters in the industry. I’ve worked with a lot of different providers of technology solutions and consulting firms over the years. Experience tells me that the ones that go broad first usually fail because they glance off of problems. I was really attracted to CLARA because it had homed in on claims and workers’ compensation, but it also had a thoughtful business approach to other adjacent business problems that are likely to come up next. That is a winning formula. It allows you to go into a chief executive’s office and talk about solving very specific problems that have the return on investment that they’ve been looking for.
Companies have been making massive technology investments and just haven’t gotten the payback yet. CLARA however, with its capabilities, allows organizations to recognize substantial value from those big transformational programs. I love the fact that we are able to go in and talk about getting a return on investment from the very concrete set of assets that we’ve got. Customers are seeing change in 30-60 days, and frankly, if it were even within a year, it would be much faster than what companies are getting today. The fact that a company can even think about doing something impactful in a month or two is fairly radical.
Every carrier has been struggling with ROI. It’s not because they haven’t put in a big technology platform because, heaven knows, everyone has been replacing those. But ROI comes through the analytics, through new digital interaction models, through things that are adjacent to the core, and that’s where CLARA fits in so beautifully.
What are your goals in your new role?
I see my role as that of a connector. I’ve been very blessed to work with and visit every one of the leading carriers, reinsurers and brokers, so I’ve got connections through personal relationships with people who matter to me. They’re friends. These are people I’ve really enjoyed working with, and if I can connect clients and customers with CLARA, that’s mutually beneficial; it helps CLARA grow its business faster and it means my friends are getting the technology they need to solve some of their biggest problems.
I think I can also be an asset in terms of bringing in talent as CLARA continues to grow. Insurance is a people game, and if there are talented individuals who might be complementary and additive to the CLARA model, I would love to help. To be a connector within what is already a great organization with a great sales team and focus and to assist in broadening the company’s reach a little bit would be of value to CLARA and fun for me as well.
Why is our work at CLARA important right now?
The industry continues to struggle with reputation. It’s a great industry. What we do, what a carrier does, what a claim handler does on a daily basis— and I’ve sat with hundreds of them — is really important. It’s an industry filled with sincere, good people, but we continue to lag in every poll ever done on people’s perception of insurance companies. This is really more of a function of the product itself; insurance is something that you never want to use, but when you need it, it’s super important. It really does matter that we’re able to help the customer get what they need out of a particular claim.
We also want to make sure that employees are doing tasks that are meaningful and impactful. We want them to feel good about themselves. At the same time, there is nothing more important than taking away mistakes that can happen due to the extra steps in the process or judgment being applied incorrectly. CLARA can help in this regard. Through analytics, every answer can instantly become the best possible answer that we can give, and that helps the claimant. It helps customers. It helps the employees by empowering them to do an exceptional job.
Analytics is the key to so many aspects of claim handling, reserving, eventually underwriting, sales, marketing, servicing. It really surrounds everything. How do you help people make better decisions faster? Information is everything, and people want to use it so that they can excel and help those whom they serve. Ultimately, I think intelligent analytics will improve the perception of the insurance industry overall so that it is finally viewed as doing good, doing the right thing.
Please share with us why you are excited about CLARA’s future?
We’ve been laser-focused on the workers’ compensation space, and now we’re going to expand into new areas. The canvas is relatively blank. There is so much opportunity. Some of the challenge is in making sure we’re expanding into the right adjacent spaces where we can leverage our strengths.
To me, there are lines of business that are very complementary that would be logical. There are different size entities that would be good to work with and maybe larger entities as well. There’s also geographic expansion. As the executive team and board really put our heads together, we will figure out where we are able to get the biggest impact for our customers and for CLARA. It’s really exciting because there is no shortage of opportunities for growth.
Thank you, Dave. We’re truly fortunate to have you on our team.
To learn more about CLARA’s recent additions to the board of directors, please visit www.claraanalytics.com/news.