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Petr Vaclav, Vice President, Data Science and AI, Reinsurance Group of America

Describe your career to date


Over the last 15 years, I have established myself as data and analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) leader helping companies responsibly harness the power of data and AI, develop commercially successful solutions, build world-class teams and products, and drive business value across financial services, professional services, and health.

My career started at KPMG, where I established and led a data and analytics practice, pioneering the use of data and AI in financial services. We were recognised as KPMG’s Centre of Excellence for Customer Analytics with a team of 30+ professionals that delivered always-on solutions for blue chip companies across Europe, UK, Middle East, and US. In 2017, we were ranked as the number two data science team across KPMG.

In 2018, I joined a private equity firm where I transformed a struggling Data Science and Engineering team into a high-performing group of more than 30 professionals that delivered state-of-the-art computer vision and NLP solutions and drove business value across multiple professional services companies.

In 2020, I joined RGA – a leading life and health reinsurer – to lead all data and analytics and AI initiatives for RGA business units, clients, and ventures across EMEA. I also lead global data and analytics roadmaps for digital distribution, digital underwriting, and bancassurance. Our expertise is sought after and recognised by the industry, ranking as the number one reinsurer for data and analytics in the UK.

Outside of my work at RGA, I peer review research projects about computer vision, NLP, and explainable AI. I also enjoy sharing my insights and learnings with the wider community on LinkedIn and speaking at conferences across the world.

Data literacy is a key enabler of the value and impact from data. How are you approaching this within your organisation?


Data literacy is crucial for enabling RGA employees to maximise the value of our data assets and make data-driven decisions. We take a multi-pronged approach to data literacy:

First, our Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) has a pillar focused on continually assessing and improving data literacy, skills, and capabilities across all business units. EDS informs and helps prioritise data literacy initiatives to maximise impact.

Second, our Data Practitioner Learning Community (DPLC) offers online training on data literacy, and offline resources such as wikis, recordings, and useful links. We also deliver data and analytics trainings tailored to key functions like pricing, underwriting, claims, and medical.

Third, we offer more advanced analytics training for roles that regularly work with data. This includes SQL, R, and Python programming. It also covers advanced visualisation and storytelling skills for roles that create reports and presentations.

Fourth, we provide self-service data tools and dashboards so employees can access relevant data easily. This encourages daily data use for business decisions, without needing complex analytics skills.

Finally, we deliver data analytics solutions designed to be handed over to business units. We spend considerable time on data literacy and other people, culture, and process areas to support change management and adoption of new ways of working.

In addition, we are exploring externally delivered data analytics learning curriculums and apprenticeships for employees across different seniority levels, which would be incorporated into learning and development goals.

This multifaceted approach develops data literacy at all levels, enabling widespread data-driven decision making while also building specialised expertise. It helps RGA harness the power of data and analytics for faster and better decision-making.

How are you preparing your organisation for AI adoption and change management?

At RGA, we have always taken a proactive, yet measured, approach to adopting AI, emphasising people, culture, and change management to adopt to new ways of working.

We have extended our data and analytics strategy to include a generative AI (genAI) roadmap that defines, scopes and priorities use cases to pilot and then implement across the life insurance value chain. Our AI roadmap contains initiatives at local, regional, and global levels with strong support from the company’s leadership.

Our data ethics and responsible AI framework is being expanded to cover opportunities and risks specific to genAI large language models (LLMs) in particular. We are also closely monitoring the evolving regulatory landscape for AI globally. We have conducted an exercise to review all internal and client-facing models to ensure they are compliant.

Our thought leadership content and communications have emphasised our vision of augmented intelligence, where AI augments – rather than replaces – human expertise. Our message is one of partnership between people, technology, and AI to elevate decision-making and support our vision of making financial protection accessible to all.

We are rolling out organisation-wide training and change management initiatives to equip employees with the skills and knowledge of AI, including a governed and safe access to ChatGPT and other LLMs. We have internal AI champions tasked with supporting our business units and corporate functions on their AI adoption journeys.

Finally, we have been regularly speaking with our clients, partners, professional associations, and other stakeholders and communities about the best ways to responsibly leverage AI across the (re)insurance industry.

Petr Vaclav
has been included in:
  • 100 Brands 2024 (EMEA)