Name: Steve Danquah
Alma Mater: Wilberforce University, Graduated in 2014
Degree: Bachelor’s in Computer Science
with a Minor in Nuclear Engineering
Company: Encova Insurance
Title: Integration Developer
Length of Time with Encova: Three years
Why did you pursue a career in insurance?
My first job out of college was at a government contracting company and unfortunately they downsized. I applied for a job at Motorists (now Encova) because I knew I could fulfill the duties of the role and was curious to see what IT at an insurance company looked like. Thus far it’s been a very rewarding experience and I’m constantly learning something new.
What does an IT career in the insurance industry look like?
Working as an IT person in the industry has been great because they give me the ability to pursue what I like, which is cool. Insurance has so many different specialties. If you like working on the front end, you can do that because there’s a lot of work in this space to improve a user's experience whether on the web or mobile to make sure they have an easy and seamless experience. I work primarily on the back end, which is the nuts and bolts of it all. I make sure that the systems that need to talk to each other do, so that regardless of the customer -- whether it's the agent, underwriter or policyholder -- they have a sense of ease while doing business. That part is critical to what we do.
What’s been one of the biggest challenges in your role?
When I first came to Encova some of the core business processes were running on older technology. A fun yet big challenge for me was working with our team to transition our core business processes to a modern technology and framework. I had to learn the different types of insurance and various insurance terminologies quickly. It’s then that I realized how broad and deep the insurance marketplace really is. Everything I’ve learned over the past three years has been instrumental in helping me understand how to build a good insurance product.
Do you have any mentors in the insurance industry?
Yes, Ralph Smithers who is the AVP for Diversity and Community Relations at Encova has been a great mentor to me. He’s someone I can always talk to about work and life in general. I’m an advocate of mentors because young people need them. Life can be difficult and it’s always good to have people you can talk to and bounce ideas off of.
What’s the culture like at Encova?
In the IT department it’s very laid back. Usually I wear jeans and a collared shirt to work. There’s a level of trust here where as long as you get your work done your supervisors are pretty flexible with you.
What do you say to someone considering a career in insurance?
As an African American I would like to say that coming into the insurance industry can be sort of a culture shock at first -- at least it was for me. African Americans are underrepresented in the industry, especially in IT. We all know that diversity is an asset for a company, and it would be great to see more African Americans and other races in college internship roles and other roles with insurance companies. There have been a lot of barriers to diversity historically, and it’s important to see companies working hard to diversify their different departments. After all, insurance is something that everyone needs, regardless of race.