Episode 32

Fostering Human-Centric Innovation Through Data Transformation with Paula Bartgis, Chief Information Officer, Sun Life U.S.

Paula Bartgis, Chief Information Officer at Sun Life U.S., talks with Life Accelerated about creating synergies between business and technology, fostering a client-centered approach to innovation, and building a culture primed for change. In this episode, Paula offers actionable insights that can be applied to a digital transformation for business and the customer.

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Time Stamps

  • 00:12 Paula’s career span
  • 01:38 Background on Sun Life U.S.
  • 05:41 Digital transformation within Sun Life U.S.
  • 08:32 The importance of methodology
  • 11:49 How Sun Life U.S. measures transformational value
  • 14:25 When Paula joined Sun Life U.S. and how different it was back then
  • 17:43 The significance of Sun Life U.S. Onboard
  • 21:33 Providing a safe environment for your organization to grow
  • 22:48 Paula’s perspective on project management
  • 26:05 Learning as a team and allowing room for mistakes within company culture
  • 27:42 Shifting employees as needed to upskill
  • 30:51 Closing


After 150 years in the business, Sun Life U.S. has developed a keen digital strategy that integrates technology and business operations while boosting client engagement and revitalizing its approach to healthcare connectivity, benefits management, and client satisfaction.

Paula Bartgis, Chief Information Officer at Sun Life U.S., is leading the company in this transformation and joins Life Accelerated to discuss developing the Sun Life Onboard platform and leveraging AI in call centers to digitally overhaul the life insurance sector.

Listen in to learn how Paula Bargis and Sun Life U.S. are demystifying the process of a digital-first ethos in their life insurance endeavors.

Key Takeaways:

    • A client-centered digital transformation strategy can increase efficiency and satisfaction.

    • Transformational leadership values flexibility, team empowerment, and the creation of a fail-fast culture pivotal for sustaining long-term digital innovation.

    • Digital initiatives positively impact organizational growth, from improved client engagement and sales to enhanced employee satisfaction and development.

What good looks like in our future is about cross functional business and technology teams working collaboratively. Those teams are accountable for delivering digital solutions with the business understanding technology and the technology organization, understanding our businesses.

Paula Bartgis

Chief Information Officer, Sun Life U.S

Our Guest

Paula Bartgis

LinkedIn Website

Paula Bartgis, Chief Information Officer at Sun Life U.S., has over thirty years of expertise in IT leadership within diverse sectors. Her educational foundation is in computer science and her career trajectory is marked by a strategic approach to sustainable and transformational change in businesses. At Sun Life U.S., Paula drives digital transformation by combining business objectives with technological innovation and a client-focused culture.

Paula builds collaborative teams with a fail-fast, flexible mindset that enhances Sun Life's client experience and operational efficiency. An advocate for continuous learning and employee development, Paula has created an environment at Sun Life that embraces agility, empowerment, and bold thinking.


Anthony O'Donnell: I'm Anthony O'Donnell, and this is Life Accelerated, a podcast for life insurers striving to achieve digital transformation. In this episode, we are joined by Paula Bartgis, Chief Information Officer at Sun Life U.S. Paula is a veteran technologist, but one with particular strengths in getting things done.

She has held many leadership roles in IT across application development and engineering, financial and operational planning, and portfolio and project management. She has held senior positions in IT and project management at Travelers and at Voya Financial, where she ran the enterprise project management office and served as Head of Enterprise Transformation.

She oversaw acquisition, integration, and business transformation at MassMutual, and for that company she also invented an assessment framework to measure project delivery effectiveness that was patented for the company. The relevance of this experience of both the fundamental technology expertise and the added specialization in how to successfully get things done is the essence of the value Paula brings to her work, as you'll see from our conversation.

Paula arrived at Sun Life U.S. in 2019 to assess the company's technological state, evaluate how IT worked, and lead a digital transformation. Based in Canada, Sun Life has a history spanning 150 years. It is rooted in life insurance, but now also offers a comprehensive suite of employee benefits, including disability, dental, and medical.

Paula, welcome to Life Accelerated.

Paula Bartgis: Thank you so much for having me.

Anthony O'Donnell: Well, it's my pleasure. Why don't you tell us a little bit about Sun Life, both at the level of the enterprise and the U.S. operation. Share a little bit of the company history, the lines of business it sells, and its place in the market, its distribution model, and what are its strategic imperatives these days.

Paula Bartgis: Sun Life is more than 150 years old and we're based in Canada. We have operations all over the world and a robust international wealth management operation. Sun Life U.S. is just over 125 years old. Our roots are as a life insurer, but we offer a full range of employee benefits, including disability, supplemental health, dental, vision, and medical stop loss.

We're a top 10 disability provider and the largest independent stop loss provider in the country. We're very proud of that. We also provide numerous services within our benefits that help people achieve better health outcomes, including care navigation, clinical intervention, vocational rehabilitation, mental health support, and telehealth options.

We are also one of the largest providers of government dental benefits in the U.S. through our Dentiquest business and our products are distributed through broker partners to employers of all sizes. And specifically at Sun Life U.S., we're focused on improving access to care and benefits and connecting to the broader healthcare ecosystem.

Anthony O'Donnell: You know, it's practically a requirement for life accelerated guests companies to be at least a century old, so it's kind of nice that you have that covered for both the U.S. and Canada. So that's the company, let's talk a little bit about you, your career, how it's prepared you for your current responsibilities and what it is you're expected to accomplish.

Paula Bartgis: I've always had a curiosity around technology and have always loved solving complicated problems, and the more complicated I would say the better. Actually, what others would say aren't possible, throw them my way because I do believe that every problem can get solved. So I decided early on to pursue my computer science degree from Florida Institute of Technology, which is now called Florida Tech.

I've held various IT leadership roles across application development, engineering, architecture, infrastructure. Financial and operation planning and portfolio and project management over my 30 plus year career. I've had the fortunate opportunity to work across several different industries, ranging from space operations, energy management, financial services and insurance.

And what was interesting to observe throughout my experiences was unlike businesses that are different and unique across industries, technology is technology. So IT is IT, and there's something really special about that. And from my perspective, what I was able to recognize early was companies struggle with the same issues, both related to technology and delivery,

and that is across industries. And then even within the same industries. So seeing the challenges play out across the various industries and appreciating the different appetites on how to address those challenges within those industries. I believe has provided me a perspective that's helped me be successful to drive sustainable, long lasting transformational change that has enabled business success,

and I say long lasting and sustainable transformational change because it's not just about change. It's not just about while you're at a company and doing what it is that you're advised or needing to do. It's about keeping that change long lasting and over the years, so that's really important for me.

Anthony O'Donnell: Experienced executives from other industries has been a necessary benefit for the insurance industry during the last couple of decades. I couldn't help thinking when you said the more complicated, the better you've really ended up in the right industry.

Paula Bartgis: Thank you.

Anthony O'Donnell: Yeah, and I'm delighted that you have.

Let's talk now about digital transformation. How does Sun Life think about digital transformation, both in terms of a general definition of digital transformation? What's your own opinion of what constitutes digital transformation and also in the sense of what it means about the future state of the company?

Paula Bartgis: When I think about Sun Life and I think about when I first joined the company, it was a very traditional from a delivery, from an execution perspective. And what I mean by that is the business would define what it wanted to do and then throw it over the wall to the IT organization who would then design, build, release.

What they thought was the right solution and the technology organization and the business organizations were very far apart. And we all know that that way of working does not lead to winning client solutions. So as I think about what digital transformation means to me and what it means to Sun Life, it's really about taking those two distinct teams from a business and a technology perspective

and really making those be one. So what good looks like in our future is about cross functional business and technology teams working collaboratively where you can't tell who's from the business and who's from IT, meaning those teams jointly are accountable for delivering digital solutions to our clients and our colleagues with the business understanding technology and the technology organization understanding our businesses

with a flexible mindset, continuous value delivery based on rapid feedback and business outcomes, a fail fast mindset, an openness to learn from mistakes, which it's hard for every industry. It seems to be really hard from an insurance industry perspective, as well a desire and space to experiment continuously to find new solutions.

We see our future together as one team with one goal, with our client at the center of all of our decisions, and I know that sounds so cliche, but it really is real and where we have successfully enabled these cross functional agile teams because we have over the past several years, the results and the client impacts have been significant.

Digital transformation exists not only in how we execute, develop initiatives, create those cross functional solutions that can be leveraged in multiple areas of the business, but also in our products and services. And that's important because as we think about, again, everything centering around our client experience,

our goal in the U.S. is to improve access to care and make benefits management easier. So digital transformation plays a huge role in both access and management, something that became impossible to ignore during the pandemic, so we had to create a digital type of solutions and engagement models that were different than what we have had traditionally before.

It's also important for us to leverage connectivity to the healthcare ecosystem, which will help deepen our presence and improve those health outcomes to our members, so we need to be able to do that seamlessly throughout the healthcare ecosystem.

Anthony O'Donnell: I want to talk more about the importance of methodology, which you touched on in your talk about alignment, but for now, I wanted to get your thoughts on what you see as major challenges of digital transformation.

You could take it as kind of instead of the positive way of talking about alignment between business and IT, the cautionary tale, things that people should avoid and pitfalls that you're conscious that your team needs to avoid.

Paula Bartgis: A lot of times we learn from our mistakes, the mistakes of the past, but let me first start with a positive and then I'll get there.

So my desire in general is always to inspire an organization to want to transform, no matter how big, how small. My desire is always to inspire that organization to want to do that. I want them to be inspired because they believe in the change, not because I or someone else said that they needed to do it,

but because they believe it's the right thing to do, and they're excited to take action. I personally believe this is essential to creating any sustainable long term change or transformation. So depending on where an organization is and how the transformation is defined will depend of course, on how you set out to achieve that transformation.

But I found in most cases, mindset is always first, and that's certainly was true of my experience at Sun Life, meaning fundamentally changing the mindsets of our people. And I think that's one item where if you don't address that, right, that can turn around and come back as an issue relative to a challenge.

So I think we underrate how important the mindsets of our employees, of our people, of our partners are. It's important also to me to establish an environment that enables people to be bolder, and everything that they do, that's super important for me as a leader. And what that means to me is about being courageous and allowing others to take calculated risks and provide a safe place to do so,

so you can't just say that you want folks to take risks and be open to a fail fast mindset and open from learning from mistakes and then you don't encourage that, or you don't allow people to learn from their mistakes. So it's really important as you think about continuously delivering value quickly and trying to get that feedback based off of business outcomes from both the business and clients.

I think it's super important that you create that safe space for people to be able to do that, for your employees to be able to do that, and then to support experimentation to continuously find new solutions and give that space and that time for folks to learn and to test. I also think that from a challenge, and I will say this is probably one of mine personally, but most important is being patient.

So I like to move fast, I like to be able to deliver, I'm always trying to raise the bar, but I also believe that if you don't provide the time to the organization, that it needs to understand the change again, whether it's transformational or whether it's a simple change, they need to understand the change, believe in it,

want to do it. If you don't provide that patience while you get the entire organization there, I don't believe you'll be successful in either the short term or the long term. So I would say that is probably the biggest challenge from my perspective, historically, what I have observed. And I also believe that with any transformation, some of the challenges that you could potentially see along from an execution or value delivery that a lot of times.

It's very subjective relative to how do you measure that transformational value or that journey that you've taken from a transformation perspective. So we've set up very specific ways to measure our transformational value as well so that we could very early on establish across all of our U.S. businesses and across our enterprise from a corporate perspective as well.

What is it that we're going to target and measure relative to defining our success? So defining our success is super important, and so we quantified those around our client impact and specifically around increasing our client engagement, stronger relationships, and speed to market productivity and efficiency.

So accelerated outcomes generated by right size teams. So how can we get more nimble and faster with smaller teams? Our return on digital investment, so optimizing value of our digital investment dollars through revenue generation and cost efficiencies. So not just going and investing more money, but how can we take some of that money and further reinvest it internally?

Modernization, so reducing risk and creating efficiency, so modernization, both from a process perspective, but also from a technology perspective and employee engagement and development, from my perspective, this is very high on my list, it's about attracting and retaining top talent.

Anthony O'Donnell: It seems as if you have developed a very thorough kind of methodology, including for measuring results, right?

So, what we would call hard ROI, but it also seems that a big part of your job, or at least the way you think through the things you're trying to achieve, also has kind of a soft ROI dimension to it. Is that fair to say?

Paula Bartgis: It is absolutely fair to say. Let me give you another factor of how I really think about success and even from some of my past as far as delivering on transformational objectives. I believe what gets measured gets done and I believe what gets planned gets done,

so that's very much in alignment with what you just mentioned as well.

Anthony O'Donnell: All right, Paula, you're gonna have to forgive me for making you talk a little bit about yourself again, but I feel that we could say a little bit more about the work that you have come to do. I meant to mention earlier, but you arrived at Sun Life in 2019, and the role that you hold now didn't exist in the company until then.

So tell us a little bit about how that came about, and what's your job specifically as a transformation agent at Sun Life?

Paula Bartgis: As the Chief Information Officer of Sun Life U.S., my mandate is to create a consistent delivery experience across the U.S. businesses while improving our client experience through a progressive and modern digital agenda.

So there's a lot there and there's a lot to unpack, but in essence, it's to look at both our technology stack and keeping the client at our center across all of our businesses as well. And so there's opportunities from an enterprise perspective to make sure that we're delivering the solutions that enable all of our businesses from an efficiency perspective as well.

So when I joined Sun Life, the enterprise had just begun its digital transformation. It was very, very early on. We had just defined our first accelerator team relative to the digital enterprise, and what was important to me was to understand where the organization was related to delivery, relationships, collaboration, and a foundational understanding of what being a digital company meant to Sun Life,

because it's a sexy word that people just kind of throw out there all the time, right? Oh, we're going to go on a digital transformation, but everybody potentially defines that differently. So it was really important for me to understand what that meant. What I learned was that the organization really operated Like many other traditional insurance companies, and that is where the business really just went off to find what they wanted to do,

didn't really engage, didn't really partner, didn't collaborate to nobody's fault. It was just the way in which the organization operated and then threw it over the wall, and we kind of hoped for the right solution at the end of the day, and we all know that's not how we get to really delivering leading and winning client solutions.

So I personally going back to my role, I feel very fortunate to be able to lead a group of tremendously talented individuals who care, and I mean that, who care about our purpose and our clients. They also have a desire to continuously improve and learn. So my role is to help our teams collectively work together from both a business and technology perspective.

So it's not just from a technology perspective, my role from a digital transformation is to work collectively across the business and technology to listen and to empower our people and our clients, and that's another item that we've really done very well to listen to our clients to create those differentiating and modern solutions.

That matter most to our clients, and so that's one of the components that I think we've done really well is a lot of times we define either we, from a business perspective, from a technology perspective, we always think we know what the right answer is and we don't, we really have to listen to the individuals who are using our products and to our clients to understand what matters to them 'cause that's really in the end, what matters most to us.

Anthony O'Donnell: So with some of these observations, I feel that now is a good time to make the conversation a little more concrete in terms of what this implies as to the actual initiatives you've been carrying out. And we can talk about some of the important foundational work you did closer to 2019 and also ongoing initiatives today, what you're doing, why you're doing it, and then maybe talk about some of the results you've enjoyed.

Paula Bartgis: I could talk about this for a really long time, so I'm going to try to make this as brief as possible. So Sun Life Onboard, let me give you an example of that, so that's a new platform that we built to digitize our onboarding process for employers. It guides brokers and employers through implementation and enrollment, and it transitions them to ongoing service.

So we have a 94 percent adoption rate to date and have seen reduced costs with implementation and client feedback has been extremely positive. So this is an example where we use the pandemic to actually help us fast track some of the digital ways of working and creating client solution. That has been extremely positive and the reach to our clients has been extremely positive and a big return from an engagement perspective.

I'll talk a little bit about AI. So of course, we're using AI to fuel our call centers in a combined approach that still incorporates the human element, and that's important for us from our perspective. Efficiencies have yielded significant savings for the business while also improving the client experience, some examples there are reduced wait times, increased use of self service tools.

So there's much more at hand client facing tools that have added significant impact. We also have advanced analytics solutions. We've implemented advanced analytics solutions that have increased our ability to underwrite. And quote, new stop loss business, and that drove sales in new premium. We've also been able to improve the claim cost prediction models, which is extremely significant for self funded employers.

When you consider that many stop loss claims can reach multimillion dollar ranges, so members can now submit and view supplemental health. These benefits are like, think of critical illness, hospital indemnity, accident insurance. They can view those and submit those online. It generates a much quicker benefit payment, which is important when members are facing a major health event, which is why they're going in to launch a claim.

We've also launched a digital dental experience for commercial clients that has increased client satisfaction and improved the member experience, including a more efficient process for finding in network providers. We launched a mobile experience for our DentaQuest members. That helps them find a dentist, view their member ID card and view their main dentist.

So the app has a 4.5 rating on Android and a five star rating on Apple, and we've also integrated that app with dental APIs so that future enhancements can be added seamlessly. So that kind of goes to fundamentally from a technology perspective, how we're thinking about that modern tech stack, as well in our future.

Anthony O'Donnell: We've touched pretty extensively on the importance of methodology, and I loved how you combined it between the technical aspect of taking an orderly approach to project management, but also the whole issue of morale. I think it was Napoleon said something like morale is two thirds of success in warfare.

And I really enjoyed what you said about how people have to be committed, they have to be properly communicated with, and they have to feel that you've got their backs. When you accept failure, they've got to know you've got their backs, otherwise, why stick their necks out, if you'll forgive a mixed metaphor.

I invite you to say more about the importance of project management if you'd like to, but I thought we might move into the topic of getting the right skills. When we undergo a major technological transformation in any organization, we can end up with very different kinds of applications and need very different skills,

like we've seen the whole revolution in advanced analytics and data science. How do you address having the right skills within the IT organization and the company as a whole, looking at that as a success factor for transformation?

Paula Bartgis: Yeah, absolutely. Before I do that, I'd like to comment on your comment about sticking your neck out and the reason that I would like to comment on that is because I totally 100 percent believe in that, right?

You have to have that safe environment and change is hard for people. We as human beings don't naturally gravitate toward change. We tend to go against it and it's hard for us. And so, especially when you're asking people to change something that they've done for, you know, let's just say they've been with a company for 20 years, 30 years, and it's a fear.

There's a fear, and then if you don't provide a safe environment, then when that fear comes out and you don't support them by making a mistake, it just exasperates the ability to be able to change and be safe with that change. So I'm a huge advocate of you have to have that leadership and the support of the organization,

and it goes around that patience of the change curve as well. As you think about transformation, as you think about changes that people experience, every single person experiences it differently, even if it's the same change.

Anthony O'Donnell: And it's also a win win approach, right? I mean, you're not just doing it for their sake.

It's good for the company to be able to retain talented people, to help them to make that transition. And if anything, it's just going to make your associates more loyal.

Paula Bartgis: Absolutely. I 100 percent agree. I'd love to just give a little bit of a foundation first around my perspective on project management

and I want to talk a little bit about communication. I promise I will get to skills. So I'm passionate about communication because it seems so simple to do, but it's really hard. And I have found, especially in IT, It's really hard, and the reason that I say it's hard is because every day the technology team is deploying fixes, enhancements, new features, security patch, providing a safe and secure environment for our clients and our businesses, and what we do to our core is deliver, and we forget just how important it is to demonstrate that value, and I'm referencing like all value, the security patch is just as valuable as the new sexy feature that we're putting in from a business perspective, and so it's really hard to do that.

As I think about project management as well, and that's where I kind of make the connection point, 'cause please don't misinterpret what I'm trying to say here. To me, project management is not about checking boxes or following a cookbook or following a process, project management, there's absolutely a science behind it, and that's important. But more important from my perspective is the art of project management, and what I mean by the art is knowing when you need to be flexible, when you need to pivot, when you need to jump in, when you need to say, oh, wait a minute, somebody's not on the same page here, right?

So going back from a communication perspective, having that sense of being able to recognize when your stakeholders aren't aligned, and that to me is really the hard part, so the art is really the hard part. And when I think of project management, to me, 5 to 10 percent of the role is the science and the remaining 90 to 95 percent is the art.

And I don't believe it's something that you can be taught. I think it can be nurtured and matured, but fundamentally it's a leadership skill to be able to take chaos, make it organized, while influencing a team to solve problems and deliver on their commitments and wanting and believing to take that action, so that's a skill that I think transcends any digital transformation, any type of transformation, any type of change.

When we think about the skills specifically in the IT organization, there's two components that I see there. One of them, and I will say that we are very committed to recruiting the best talent, and often in remote capacities, so we invest in our culture very strategically and across the globe relative to that, to ensure that collaboration is effective and productive. One thing I would say that we value is our approach to failing fast and letting people make mistakes along the way. That has been a journey and I feel like we are really doing that effectively well now. Digital transformation moves quickly, so there's a balance between how fast do you wanna go to production and deliverables, and even from an executive perspective, where is the executive relative to being comfortable with failing fast, and moving things to production continuously and faster, and not having that perceived, because it is a perception, perceived perfect of delivery in your traditional long multi year initiative.

Anthony O'Donnell: Not making perfection the enemy of the good.

Paula Bartgis: Exactly, and that's traditionally what we have done, right, with very long multi year initiatives. So we learned to gather to troubleshoot in ways to kind of incorporate that client feedback and unique needs because it's often multiple solutions to one problem that we need to consider, which is always usually the case.

So people work differently than I would say, like post pandemic, certainly people are working differently. And as a company, we're very flexible in our culture and our work styles. Our culture is really important to us and it's to our core, it helps us to remain agile and willing to pivot when we need to.

Not only do we have to be flexible on how we work, but I believe we have to be flexible on modern and how we think about career paths. So I believe specifically in technology, it's key to have senior level, technical, individual contributors and traditional career paths have only provided growth through management positions, ignoring the need and support for senior technical individual contributors.

So one of the things that we've done at Sun Life is we made a deliberate investment. I made a deliberate investment in skills and career paths within our technology career framework to ensure that we stay current and in front of future skill demands for our future, but also being flexible enough to ensure that we've got individuals in positions to keep in front of some of those technology trends as well so that we can make sure we're pivoting within our career paths, also.

Anthony O'Donnell: Do you make an effort to diversify the skills of individual employees? I mean, they can pivot more easily if they've got some acquaintance with different fields or subfields.

Paula Bartgis: 100%. So these are some of my proud moments, when we think about where we have been from a career path on the technology side, and we've focused it initially from a technology perspective, but we built the career path outside of the engineering ladder.

We built the other career path so that we can scale those from a business perspective as well. So when we think about product management, when we think about that, we should be able to take business resources and put them into that career path as well.

One of the proud moments that I was referring to is we've had many folks in an engineering career path that have asked us for coaching development, and we've actually moved them over to the product management job family and vice versa, and I think that's so cool because that's the absolute reason behind why we developed what we developed and to encourage our individual resources where they have passion, let's go after it. Let's make sure that we give them the skills and the tools and the capabilities and that environment, again, that safe environment for them to learn and to grow.

Anthony O'Donnell: It's just light years away from what seems to have happened just within the last 15 years or so, where you described earlier toward the beginning of our conversation, the problem of throwing the thing over the wall. But now it's not even a question of alignment anymore, it's a thorough interpenetration of the it and business disciplines.

Paula Bartgis: And it's really powerful.

Anthony O'Donnell: Yeah, well, they're both so relevant to each other. Neither one makes sense without the other.

So I thought as a concluding question, whether you could summarize the effects of digital transformation in the sense of what kind of company it's helping Sun Life to become.

Paula Bartgis: I would say when I think about all the work, when I think about where we want to be, it's again, I want to focus on our clients are at the center of it.

Everything that we do and by truly for us from our digital transformation, when we truly move to a digital mindset for everybody. And what I mean by that, I'll go back to our technology individuals understand the business and our business resources understand technology. When we truly get to that place where you can't tell the difference between somebody in a sprint review who's talking about the value and what they delivered in the last sprint, when those individuals are talking, you can't tell between the business and technology, it again leads us to what good looks like for me, for the end result of what digital transformation, how we sum that up from we've embedded both organizations within each other. And I don't mean physically, like I don't mean organizationally structured, I mean, we're working together as that one team with one goal

and that goal is always centered around what the needs of our clients are, and that we're doing that delivering winning business solutions out to our customers. That to me is how I would sum up what success looks like, and it's a journey. We've made significant progress, but we still have more progress to make, and that's exciting to me.

Anthony O'Donnell: Paula, thank you so much for being a guest on Life Accelerated.

Paula Bartgis: Thank you so much for having me. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you.

Anthony O'Donnell: During this conversation, I felt that Paula kept hitting some of the most important success factors in running a contemporary IT operation.

She takes an end to end view of digital transformation, where success of the most advanced digital capabilities stands on a solid technological foundation. She sees digital as supporting and affirming the human element, even as it introduces the efficiencies of automation.

Every CIO needs to have a mastery of technology and the ability to run a project. Paula has specific and outstanding credentials in project management. Equally importantly, Paula understands the importance of the human element in getting things done. For example, she notes the importance of providing a career path for different kinds of professionals at a time where technologies and needed skill sets are rapidly evolving, and she understands what is perhaps the most important aspect of leadership, maintaining morale. I made the observation that Napoleon once said that moral considerations are two thirds of success in battle. Paula explained how she drives morale in her organization, and elaborated on the need for a flexible and adaptable organizational culture.

That reminded me of another famous tactician, Mike Tyson, who said everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. Maybe Paula would prefer Klausiewicz's phrase that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. In this scenario, the enemy is the shifting reality of the market and the thousand unexpected things that are bound to happen.

At Sun Life, Paula has built an organization that has the discipline down cold, but that is responsive and ready to roll with the punches.

Thank you for joining us for the Life Accelerated podcast. For more relevant content to help you achieve digital transformation, visit equisoft.com/lifeaccelerated.


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