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A Successful Digital Transformation in The Midst of a Pandemic

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Catherine Desgagnes-Belzil, Executive Vice President and Business and Information Technology Performance Leader, Beneva

Catherine Desgagnes-Belzil, Executive Vice President and Business and Information  Technology Performance Leader, Beneva

Catherine Desgagnes-Belzil, Executive Vice President and Business and Information Technology Performance Leader, Beneva

Beneva, created by the coming together of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance, is the largest mutual insurance company in Canada, with more than 3.5 million members and customers. The announcement of the intent to join forces was made on January 29, 2020, less than two months before the pandemic and the adoption of remote working by companies around the world. The integration of two 70-plus-year-old companies, each with a complex and mature technology ecosystem, is a difficult task in itself under the best of circumstances. But attempting to do so in the midst of a global pandemic, while better preparing the organization to facilitate the digital transformation journey, adds a whole new level of complexity.

From an IT perspective, Beneva has created a new ecosystem from the best of each of its founding organizations. In its early years, Beneva has demonstrated its ability to overcome the complex technological challenges of integrating IT systems while ensuring that critical business operations are not disrupted, that IT investments are aligned with overall strategy and that cultural differences are addressed. And while the focus is on the integration, Beneva continues its digital transformation to meet customer expectations, differentiate itself, and remain competitive in the marketplace.

  It is recognized that only 30% of companies successfully navigate mergers and that one of the key factors common to successful M&A transactions is the speed with which they are executed   

From the beginning, Beneva recognized that the only way to achieve a successful integration was to continually prioritize its investments and ensure that it was allocating its precious capacity to the right initiatives. The company also needed to cadence and synchronize its teams, each of whom is a piece of a larger puzzle. Becoming more agile was the only path to success. In addition, adopting agility at scale made it much easier to implement a culture of change. In fact, Beneva has implemented an agile delivery and governance model across all business units, which has had a significant impact in fostering collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, as well as an approach focused on innovation and responsible risk-taking. It has also fostered a culture of transparency and openness where team members are encouraged to share knowledge and ideas, collaborate and work together to achieve common goals. By encouraging teams to take an experimental approach, iterate quickly, and learn from their mistakes, Beneva is building a culture conducive to digital transformation.

Over the past few years, the ability and discipline to focus efforts on building Beneva 1.0, the first iteration of Beneva equipped with the key features to meet the essential needs of its clients and partners, has been undeniable. Combined with the introduction of the concept of Major Rendezvous − key milestones linked to unavoidable deadlines for successfully integrating our business and meeting the regulatory requirements of the market authorities − these are key elements for the success of this transformation. 

It is recognized that only 30% of companies successfully navigate mergers and that one of the key factors common to successful M&A transactions is the speed with which they are executed. I am proud to be part of the great Beneva team who, by working together and relying on a culture of focus, performance, customer orientation and forward thinking, has successfully navigated the complexities of digital transformation during a pandemic.