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Anna Spender, Director of Actuarial and Data Analytics, Psyon

Path to power

Following my degree in mathematics at Exeter University, I began my career as an actuarial trainee mixing on the job experience with the further study needed for qualification. I quickly found my way into life and health insurance, where I could combine the technical side of actuarial pricing, analytics, and modelling with further understanding and awareness of the people impact of insurance and health solutions. 


I now have over 20 years’ experience in the life, protection, and health insurance markets, having held leadership and senior pricing and proposition development roles across both UK and international markets. Four years ago, I joined Psyon, the technology arm of Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, to set up and lead the data analytics and insight division.


Psyon Insights combines my insurance and data analytics experience to drive evidenced-based solutions for our clients, enabling new ways to develop, measure, and evolve employee benefit and wellbeing strategies.

I have enjoyed a career that has allowed me to travel, be creative, and continually learn and develop. New technology and analytics that enables us to evolve the market, engage customers, and positively impact health and wellbeing is something that drives me. 


What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?

My current role, where I have had the opportunity to start with a blank sheet of paper in terms of defining a new data analytics business, building both a proposition and team from scratch and developing these over time. Introducing new propositions and different ways of approaching things can be challenging, but very rewarding. It’s been exciting to see this evolve and the value and positive impact it has had for our business, clients, and consultants.


Who is your role model or the person you look to for inspiration?

I have learnt a lot from many people over my career, especially those with different experience or skill sets. I like the Elizabeth Roosevelt quote: “Do something each day that scares you.” Taking a leap into something new and challenging myself has been rewarding and created my most exciting opportunities.


Did 2019 turn out the way you expected? If not, in what ways was it different?

One of the key things I have learnt over the years from working in the insurance industry is to expect change. In my career, I have been through six mergers and acquisitions, with the most recent one taking place last year. Although these can sometimes be challenging, embracing change and seeking the potential opportunities to continue to develop propositions in an ever evolving market is a fundamental of success for me. In February 2019, we joined the Hyperion Insurance Group giving us a fantastic international foundation and further opportunity to grow and develop of our data analytics proposition.


What do you expect 2020 to be like for the data and analytics industry?

In 2020 I am sure the use of data in many aspects of our lives will continue to evolve at pace, with more and more businesses putting it at the heart of their strategies. However, there will still be a journey for many of these to navigate successfully. The difference between the hype and the practical uses and added value of big data, AI, machine learning etc, will continue to emerge.


Data and technology are changing business, the economy and society – what do you see as the biggest opportunity emerging from this?

There is a huge opportunity in the use of technology and data in the health and wellbeing space, covering individual, employee, and population health management.


Solutions that range from preventative through to rehabilitation are emerging through clinically backed technology solutions that create easier access and different engagement routes to health resources, support, detection, and interventions. 


Data from these solutions, combined with wider population health data, can be used from targeting health resources and interventions through to creating personalised tailored journeys that engage people in the management of their own health and wellbeing and in doing so positively impact health outcomes.


What is the biggest tech challenge your clients face in ensuring data is at the heart of their digital transformation strategy?

For the majority of our clients the challenges are still the fundamental ones rather than the consideration of the world of or approach to complex analytics.

– Availability of relevant, complete, and accurate data sources

– Legacy systems and processes

– Disparate systems and data sets

– Challenging the status quo, using different approaches and bringing key stakeholders along on the journey.


Anna Spender
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2020 (EMEA)