Earlier this year, Metromile DevOps Engineer Valerie H. came out as a transgender woman company-wide. We spoke with Valerie to hear more about her experience sharing her transition with colleagues and her insights on coming out in the workplace.
What do you do as a DevOps engineer at Metromile?
I’ve been a DevOps Engineer at Metromile for about three years now and it’s my job to make sure all of Metromile’s servers and other tools stay up and running so other developers can do their jobs. That includes everything from coding and deployment to maintenance and regular updates on internal and external platforms and services.
Can you walk me through your decision to share your transition company-wide?
The decision for me to come out at work came from a practical standpoint. I work with a lot of different people every day and I wanted to come out as a transgender woman to the whole company so people could still contact me and wouldn’t be taken by surprise when they saw a new name on Slack, email, or our other internal platforms.
I was initially just going to share my news with the Engineering Team, but after connecting with the People and Comms Teams, we landed on sharing my announcement company-wide through Slack. I figured it was best to just “rip the bandaid off” and let everyone know in case they needed to contact me in the future.
What were some of the things you considered as you prepared to come out in the workplace?
The first step I took was coming out to my manager just to give him a heads up about what was happening. I then went to our People Team to let them know I would be changing my name and pronouns and that I would need internal records, email, and usernames altered to reflect that. I also wanted to tell the People Team ahead of making my announcement in case any issues came up down the line with harassment or disrespectful colleagues.
I held off on announcing until I had chosen my new name, Valerie, and then let my manager and the People Team know that I was ready to share that I was transitioning. The day I came out at work, I let my team know first during a small meeting, and then later that afternoon I shared the news on our company-wide Slack channel.
What was the response like? And how have things been since your announcement in March?
I knew Metromile’s supportive culture would mean people would have my back in general but I wasn’t sure just how everyone would react – especially at a company that has over 350 employees across the nation. When I made my announcement over Slack, there was an outpouring of support – everyone was so kind and kept thanking me for sharing. At the end of that day, I cried tears of joy because I just hadn’t expected everyone to be so supportive.
Since then, things have been back to business – which is great. Colleagues do occasionally use my deadname or wrong pronouns but are quick to correct themselves. I knew from the beginning this was just something I was going to have to accept as people acclimated to the change. In my initial announcement, I explained that it’s okay to make a mistake but asked people not to make a big deal about it – just correct yourself and move on.
Any insights for others thinking about coming out at work?
I was lucky to have such a supportive environment when I came out at work and I know not everyone will have that same experience. However, I did find that it was extremely helpful to have a group of trusted colleagues when you’re thinking about or planning to come out at work. Having a friend in IT also never hurts as there are way more systems than you think where your email, username, or pronouns need to be changed.
Alerting your People Team/HR about any plans to come out is important as they are the first people you should go to should you experience any harassment or disrespect in the workplace. If you are in the middle of your gender transition and are changing your name, your HR team can also help navigate that name change on certain documents/internal systems. For someone like me who has not changed their legal name yet, I had our People Team change everything that does not need to match my current legal name. Once I get further along in my transition and legally change my name, I’ll go back to HR and remove my deadname from everything.
When I was coming out at work, I knew not everyone would understand what being transgender meant or why I was transitioning, so I posted an informational Q&A on our internal wiki page so people could refer to that if they wanted to learn more. I didn’t really expect everyone to understand it, however, I did ask for everyone to respect it and have been blown away by the amount of support I received.
If you’ve ever had to file an auto insurance claim with another insurer, you know the process can be long, frustrating, and incredibly confusing. At Metromile, our claims team works hard to turn that experience on its head and support our drivers when it matters most.
We recently spoke with Senior Claims Representative, Nikki G., to get an under-the-hood look at what life is like on the Metromile Claims team and how she’s helping to live our value of creating fiercely loyal customers.
What did you do prior to Metromile?
I spent more than four years working at a large, traditional insurer – almost three years as a total loss specialist years and then transitioned to non-injury auto claims with the same company.
What brought you to Metromile?
While I enjoyed my previous insurance role, I felt my days were getting very monotonous. I missed being challenged in my job so I decided to look beyond traditional insurance carriers and see what else was out there. In my search, I found Metromile and liked that it was a younger, smaller, tech-based company. At Metromile I could tell I’d be more than just a number within a huge corporate environment., which was the experience I had at my prior firm. During the interview process, I felt immediately aligned with the culture and knew it was the place for me to work and grow as an auto insurance claims adjuster.
I first started out as a claims file owner for non-injury claims and although it was similar to previous jobs I’d held, Metromile’s training was incredibly thorough and I learned a ton of new skills. I was coached on how to become a better adjuster in the sense of gathering quality information versus just gathering the basics and going through the standard filing motions.
What does your job as a claims representative entail?
When I first started at Metromile, I was a file owner for non-injury claims but now I specialize in bodily injury claims with no attorney representation. For each case, I review statements, photos, video footage, police reports, and any other provided evidence to help me make quality decisions on liability and who is at fault. I also review the proper and applicable coverages for each specific case as it changes based on the state and can get a little complicated. After that, I look into any medical treatments that were needed as a result of the claim and then work on following up with billing and any bodily injury statements. It can be a lot of information to take in all at once but the biggest asset you can have – besides some organization – is to have confidence in what you’re doing. Thankfully, Metromile’s training program well-prepared me to take on complex claims cases with confidence.
One of the biggest parts of this job is having true empathy for the customers you work with. As a claims adjuster, you are helping them through a complicated and long process and it’s important to understand your customer to provide the best and smoothest claims process possible. Aside from that, it’s really important to build rapport with the customer as they have to be comfortable with their settlement agreements and feel taken care of when it comes to resolving any injuries. Customers also need to be well informed when it comes to offering fair and quality settlements to those involved so you need to have a good relationship with those you’re helping so they trust you to help them make a decision or settle a claim.
What do you like most about working at Metromile?
In my day-to-day work, I love interacting and building relationships with my customers. A huge part of this job is making those connections with people and showing them that they aren’t just a number but that they’re valued customers and we at Metromile genuinely care what happens with their claims. I’ve been able to build lasting relationships with past customers I’ve helped – one customer still sends me adorable dog photos long after I helped him settle a claim! On top of that, I love the investigative process and being challenged to figure out what happened with each claim. I’ve learned so much about insurance claims and enjoy solving complex puzzles that include so many moving parts and parties.
I also love the company feel of Metromile and how valued I feel as an employee. Our SVP of Claims, Jim, knows me by name – it’s the small things like that that really make a difference in your day-to-day work ethic and happiness. Throughout the pandemic, Metromile has also been super flexible and understanding when it comes to life outside of work and I can take time for myself when needed.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m working towards developing my skills around more serious claims to prepare myself for any attorney-represented bodily injury claims roles that’ll open up. These types of claims are a lot more in-depth and require more negotiation and working with a lot of parties. Aside from that, I’d love to go back into management and work towards a leadership position.
Do you have any advice for those looking for new roles in the insurance space?
It’s scary to leave a company you’ve been at for multiple years and switch from a legacy carrier to a disruptor but, I can confidently say it was so worth it. Working within auto insurance claims isn’t always the easiest job in the world, but it’s very rewarding work. Especially here, our culture makes auto insurance fun and people log on every day not only to do their job but to build relationships with colleagues and customers as well.
We’re building a community of drivers who come to Metromile for the savings and stay for the experience. Our diverse team combines the best of Silicon Valley technologists with veterans from Fortune 500 insurers and financial services giants focused on using technology to reinvent insurance as a tool for financial resiliency.
At Metromile, we pride ourselves on providing personalized and reliable auto insurance for low-mileage drivers. The design of our website and mobile app are integral to ensuring customers and prospects alike have a delightful experience no matter how they interact with us. We recently met with one of our designers, Angela L., to hear more about how she first got into design and helps bring the Metromile brand to life through visual design and imagery.
You have a background in cognitive science, how did you end up working in design?
Ever since I was a toddler, I always loved to draw but it wasn’t until later when a friend introduced me to the world of digital art that I really started to get into design and illustration. When I went to college, I studied cognitive science, which focuses on the study of the human mind, but I still had a lingering interest in art. I met others who were actually pursuing a career in design and illustration, and I realized I could too. I ended up joining design clubs and surrounding myself with innovative and artistic students who pushed me to pursue a career in art and digital design once I graduated. My degree in cognitive science allowed me to blend my knowledge about the artistic process with my interest in psychology, which is why I felt like a career in design fit me well.
How did you choose Metromile to start your design career?
After graduating in 2019 and doing contract work, I was searching for full-time design roles and was immediately captivated by Metromile’s existing illustration style and dynamic designs. I was particularly drawn in by how diversity and representation were shown through various illustrated personas where different skin colors, hairstyles, body sizes, and cultural practices were represented and celebrated – not just lightly alluded to. Metromile’s dedication to representing all types of customers in their imagery was a huge part of why I wanted to join the design team.
On top of that, I felt the bright colors and playful illustrations fit my natural design style already, and I saw a breadth of opportunities to build upon the current designs while improving my own skills. Beyond fitting the job description, throughout the hiring process I loved talking with the recruiters and the team members I’d be working with and got a great sense of company culture and how I’d fit in with the broader Metromile team.
What does your design work look like at Metromile?
When I first joined Metromile, a lot of my work focused on assuring our imagery was consistent with our values and overall personality across various platforms. I worked with everyone, from product designers to HR to internal communications, to help create and maintain a cohesive illustration style across every single one of our internal and external touchpoints.
As time went on, I realized that I loved helping out with the UX work, visual design, and even a little bit of the product design work. So with the help of my manager, I was able to take on projects that combined illustration and visual design. This allowed me to pursue my interests while honing my design skills. I recently contributed to a project by redesigning the visual experience of our Roadside Assistance flow in the Metromile app. It’s currently in production and I can’t wait to share it with our customers as it’s the first time I was able to utilize my design skills and be a part of the larger design process.
Since first joining Metromile, I’ve been able to advance my career and pursue my interests all while contributing to existing and engaging projects in real-time. For a company like Metromile, design is such a critical part of who we are and I’m incredibly grateful to contribute to and improve the customer experience. I’m thrilled to have found a position where I can utilize my knowledge in art, design, and cognitive science, and learn more about the product design space.
As part of Diversity Month, we met with several Metromilers to discuss their personal and professional efforts in supporting diversity and DE&I efforts in their own communities. In part three of our series, Metromilers offer advice for those looking to break into a new industry and how to overcome imposter syndrome.
What’s your advice for those looking to break into a new industry where they feel they might not belong at first?
Prachi S, Senior Software Engineer: Whether you’re first starting out in your career or looking to switch industries mid-career, it can be incredibly daunting and confusing where to start. One of the best ways to begin is by building up your professional network and finding allies who are willing to mentor or sponsor you on your journey.
It’s also important to remember and normalize that you won’t know everything right away. When jumping into a new industry, it takes time and patience to build the appropriate skills and knowledge – so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and take a chance. Being flexible, open to feedback, and constantly practicing your skills will help you feel more confident and successful in the technology industry.
Germaine R., Technical Recruiter: Focus on building meaningful professional relationships – this is key if you are interested in breaking into a new industry where you don’t have a lot of knowledge or previous experience. Resources like LinkedIn are great tools to find fellow alumni or past colleagues to reconnect with that can help you transition into a new field. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and ask if they’re open to a coffee chat. I’ve found that most people – recruiters or employees– are happy to talk even if they aren’t currently hiring.
If you’re early in your career or new to an industry, it’s helpful to start with an internship or short-term contract to get your feet wet and start building your professional network. Take some time to research the key people or companies in your desired industry and increase your professional knowledge by following professional journals or joining appropriate LinkedIn groups. And don’t forget to always be nice to recruiters!
What’s your advice for someone who’s experiencing imposter syndrome?
Mary S., Product Manager: It can be really hard to build yourself up, but it’s easy to let others do it for you. If you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, share your feeling in an environment where you feel safe – maybe that’s a Slack channel, a professional group, or even your friends.
When you share your concerns and feelings with those around you, they can tear all those doubts to shreds and help you overcome imposter syndrome.
Asher Hartwin, People Operations Coordinator: I suffer from imposter syndrome myself, I think a lot of people do for various reasons and it can be difficult to overcome. I believe it comes from a lack of representation as it’s common to think “I don’t belong here” when you don’t see others like you.
It’s really important to remember that imposter syndrome is entirely social and has no bearing on a person’s real achievements, work ethic, skillsets, or motivation.
As part of Diversity Month, we met with several Metromilers to discuss their personal and professional efforts in encouraging diversity and their advice for those looking to be better allies and support DE&I efforts in their own communities. This is the first of a three-part series where Metromilers share various insights on how people can foster and celebrate diversity in the workplace and within their own networks.
How do you support diversity and underrepresented talent at Metromile?
Junna Ro, General Counsel: When trying to fill open positions, I always look to include a diverse pool of candidates and that everyone is given a fair assessment during the hiring process. When interviewing candidates, I push to have a diverse interviewing panel as well so the potential candidates feel welcome and can envision themselves joining Metromile.
In addition, I think it’s important to foster an environment where all voices can be heard and consciously create a safe space to speak up. Part of this means being willing to listen to the grievances and concerns people may have and being open to feedback.
How do you support diversity and underrepresented talent outside of the workplace?
Prachi S, Senior Backend Engineer: At Metromile, I’ve been a Senior Backend Engineer for close to three years now and during my decade-long career in software engineering, I have really enjoyed helping people get involved in the engineering community. About two years ago, I joined Women Who Code – an organization dedicated to helping women build a career in technology and engineering – and now serve as the Director of the San Francisco chapter.
When I joined Women Who Code, I created a dedicated space for people to learn more about software engineering technical concepts and job careers. I launched a program where I teach backend engineering concepts and coding to people of diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, as well as experienced technology professionals. Additionally, I regularly mentor people in the technology industry on how to excel in their careers, build relevant skills, and how to navigate and transition into the technology world – it’s incredibly rewarding.
For Women’s History Month, we recently met with our Chief Accounting Officer, Lindsay Alexovich, for her thoughts on leadership, mentorship, and how she helps to create a collaborative and inclusive environment for her team members and all Metromilers.
How did you get started in the finance space?
My mom was the first person who suggested I take my love for math and use it to get involved in accounting. So, in college, I studied business with specializations in accounting while also pursuing a mathematics degree and constantly debated whether I wanted to become an actuary, statistician, or accountant. I realized I enjoyed the business side of things and working with people in corporate strategy so I chose business and accounting though, to this day, I still have a great love for math.
The Accounting field isn’t known for topping diversity lists. Can you talk about any barriers you have faced as a woman in the finance industry?
Before Metromile, I worked at one of the largest accounting firms in the country and while they did emphasize gender equality and the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion, I still experienced unintended and blind gender biases. Overwhelmingly, I felt fairly treated and very supported by the organization, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this is continuously a work in progress no matter the company – the firm’s values and commitment to continual progress and improvement were some of the main reasons I chose that firm.
For example, early in my career, female team members were often assumed to take the lead in organizing social events. Instead of simply following the course, I took the opportunity to do a few things differently: I planned the heck out of an event that I was passionate about and went beyond the norm by pulling together a presentation for that event. I created an opportunity for myself that increased my visibility and showed my business prowess. The best part was that I presented my project to a very prominent partner who wouldn’t have otherwise been available. That partner ended up becoming a significant promoter, mentor, and sponsor of me in the years ahead, for which I’ll always be grateful.
Your team is almost 90% women, how have you been able to champion a space and career path for them and build your team?
When it comes to building a team, a big focus should be on paying attention to who you’re hiring and making sure that they’re coming in with shared values. For us, that means being very focused on high-quality teamwork, embodying the highest integrity, and, as cliche as it sounds, putting your ego aside.
After hiring, it’s my desire as a leader to learn about our team members. What interests them? What are their strengths? What do they love to do? Hate to do? What motivates them? How do they like to be recognized? A team is a sum of all its parts and you can’t expect one person to be able to do everything, so as a leader I want to let everybody work on and excel at what they’re good at, while also challenging themselves in new areas. I encourage my team members to boost their skills and knowledge by leaning on their peers, stepping out of their comfort zones, and curating a space where it is safe to “fail” or make mistakes and try again.
I don’t actually like using the term “fail” but it’s important to create an environment that enables people to try new things and cultivate learnings without putting the company in an unfavorable position if and when things don’t go quite as planned. As a leader, one of the biggest things you can do is just offer that space and exposure to people on your team, and I’m constantly encouraging my managers to think the same way and pass along that mindset. After all, we don’t grow by doing the same things that we already know we’re good at; we grow by putting ourselves out there and having a willingness to try, knowing it likely won’t go perfectly.
Even as a leader, I am continuously learning from my teams and am beyond grateful I get to experience them grow, show up, and push for themselves and each other every day.
As a member of Metromile’s executive team, your leadership is valuable to all women at the company. What are some of the ways you’ve been able to show up and be supportive of your fellow female colleagues?
Whether within my team or not, it’s important to create an environment that encourages women to speak up and to ask probing questions that can lead to increased visibility and recognition. Even for those who are more introverted, it’s key to shine the spotlight on and advocate for a team member’s accomplishments both behind the scenes and publicly, whatever is most appropriate for that individual and circumstance. Connecting your colleagues and mentees to your personal networks can also help a great deal in furthering their exposure, resources, and career.
Promoting and pushing for gender equality and diversity beyond just internal teams is huge especially when thinking about vendor selection and board composition. As a leader, there are many areas where you have a louder voice and it’s important to use that power to advocate for change.
Who are some of your female mentors that have had an impact on your own career?
I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors in my career, personally and professionally. One example that stands out is a woman who helped me navigate a decision in which those worlds collided.
I had been offered a promotion, and this woman helped me to boil down the difficult decision of whether or not I should accept it to its essence.
Earlier in my career, I might have quickly jumped at the promotion. It’s easy to get swept up in social norms about achieving as much as possible as quickly as possible. In other words, value is based on what you achieve and produce vs who you are as a person.
This woman reminded me that I am more than my career and that my view of myself, not others’ view, is what matters most. I didn’t need to default to advancing up the corporate ladder, even if I could do it, even if a man would take the same opportunity with far fewer qualifications and experience than I had, even if others might then view me as “more successful.”
She didn’t offer an opinion on whether or not I should take the promotion, but instead encouraged me to look inward, asking myself questions that would help me make the decision that was best for me.
What are the core values that you personally live by?
Beyond the decision at hand, what is important to you broadly in life?
How are you fulfilled – personally and professionally?
Answering these questions made me realize that I didn’t want the promotion. At the time, accepting it might actually lead to less fulfillment. I’d risk my work-life balance falling out of balance, and not be able to bring my best self to the table each day either at work or at home. I wouldn’t be there fully for myself or my teams, family, and friends. The people in my life and those relationships are what is most important to me. It became clear to me that I didn’t want to risk that at that time in my life.
I ended up turning down the promotion and all it entailed – more responsibility, a bigger title, and increased compensation. As time has gone on, I’ve not once looked back and wished I’d made a different decision; instead, I’ve become even more confident that I made the right choice – it absolutely was the right decision for me. It didn’t close doors to further advancement; in fact, it opened new doors and led to opportunities I may not have otherwise thought about or encountered.
Can you talk about your views on mentorship versus sponsorship, how you yourself have benefited from both, and any advice for those looking to mentor or be mentored?
Both are important, but at different times and for different reasons. Mentorship is about individuals gaining experience and learning what kind of contributor, leader, and manager they want to be. Part of this is gaining insight from those who have a perspective and experiences that are different from their own as it helps us continually improve and evolve.
Sponsorship, on the other hand, can create opportunities for individuals that might not otherwise exist. It shows that the sponsor not only believes in the individual and recognizes them, but has such confidence in them and their work, their style, and their values that they eagerly put their name and reputation on the line to support them – what a gift it is to advocate for future leaders. Whether sponsoring or mentoring it all goes back to us helping one another to be and to do our best, not only as employees and leaders but as human beings.
I’ve certainly benefited from mentorship and sponsorship. Numerous new and challenging opportunities and experiences have been afforded to me because I built relationships with mentors and sponsors who then supported and advocated for me in an effort to advance my career and my skills as a leader and manager of people. From these relationships, I’ve gotten exposure to experience exciting international and high-profile assignments and lead new initiatives, departments, and Metromile going public – and I look forward to even more to come with Lemonade!
My advice: take mentorship and sponsorship seriously and appreciate it – the development of people is an awesome responsibility and a blessing. I believe it’s most successful when people can put down their defenses and egos and become vulnerable about what’s important and what’s challenging, this is what establishes deep connections and relationships. As Brene Brown says, “vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s our greatest measure of courage.” You’ll know when you’ve found that connection with someone, whether it’s a mentee, mentor, sponsee, or sponsor. And when you find it, give it your full attention because something great will surely come of it.
The 2022 theme of Women’s History Month is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” It’s easy to see how your work as a certified yoga instructor and your studies towards becoming a UC Master Gardener can play a role here – can you talk more about how these have helped promote your own well-being and others’ well-being, too?
I completed my yoga teacher training before the pandemic but as we stayed in our homes over the past two years, yoga and meditation became an even bigger part of my routine. I often turned to yoga during times of very high stress as it grounds me and helps me take a pause. I’ve even been able to incorporate some of my yoga learnings into my leadership style to make space for my teams to simply take a breath at times of high stress and emphasize the bigger picture. I’m constantly thinking and telling folks that there’s nothing that you can’t find a solution for and yoga and mindfulness practices are what helped me embrace that way of thinking.
Connecting with Mother Nature helps me incorporate wellness and hope for my teams, which is one of many reasons I am currently studying to get my Master Gardener certification. In times of stress, I like to go and play in the dirt to get calm – there’s just something about having your bare feet and hands connect with the Earth. Both being a yoga teacher and training to be a Master Gardener help me remember who I am inside and outside the workplace and – as corny as it sounds – spread love and kindness throughout.
Sometimes you spend so much time with your colleagues they start to feel like family, but for Senior Digital Licensed Insurance Specialist Jennifer K., some of her coworkers actually are her family.
We recently chatted with Jennifer to hear more about why she loves working with her mom and sister at Metromile, how she’s been able to grow her own family while working from home, and why she’s a Metromile customer herself.
How did you, your sister, and your mom all end up working at Metromile together?
It all started with my sister Erika, who joined Metromile as an underwriting assistant in August of 2018. After a few months of hearing about how much she was enjoying her time at Metromile, I decided to join the Metromile team in May of the next year. Not too long after, my mom, Christina, started at Metromile as a Senior Digital Licensed Insurance Specialist like me.
What’s it like to work with your family at Metromile?
I love that I get to work with my mom and sister! Being together at Metromile definitely allows all the three of us to keep in better contact than we would otherwise, especially as we are all working remotely – my mom and sister are both based in Arizona while I’m in Washington. My mom is on the digital team with me so I get to work fairly often with her and stay pretty in tune with what each other is working on.
As for Erika, she is on the underwriting team which comes in really handy whenever I have questions on underwriting cases. Aside from that, Erika and I are both moms so sometimes we just send pictures of our kids back and forth to each other over Slack! It’s honestly easier to get ahold of her during work hours so it’s great that we get to chat so often and stay in touch throughout our days.
Can you tell us a bit more about your work as a Senior Digital Licensed Insurance Specialist?
I mostly work with helping customers through our new chat feature and occasionally through email – though our chat function is becoming the most popular way for customers to reach out. I also help create various Q&A resources for our digital and phone teams so we can quickly respond and help customers when they contact us. Our chat feature is definitely my main focus but I tend to have my hands in a lot of pots and enjoy helping out different teams.
Recently, I helped build an app simulator for our customer experience team to better understand the customer experience when using our Metromile app. Now, our teams can actually see how things are done on the customer side – improving the experience for both our customers and our team.
How has your experience been working from home?
WFH has been so amazing as it started right after I came back from maternity leave for my older daughter. I’ve been so lucky to be around for all her firsts at home – that’s such a blessing that a lot of parents don’t get. I had my second daughter during the pandemic and once again got to be there for her first crawl and steps and even during potty training.
I wouldn’t have been able to share any of those experiences with my daughters if I had to go into an office. But, there are definitely challenges of working from home and being a mother to two young kids. My husband and I have had to find our balance over the past two years but we’ve found our groove and it’s been fairly successful.
You’re also a Metromile customer, tell us about that!
My husband and I have been Metromile customers since October of 2020. It’s the perfect fit for us as one of our cars doesn’t get driven very often – we save over $140 a year with Metromile! The Metromile app is super user-friendly and it’s so easy to make all of my changes online.
Since I work with our Metromile drivers on the daily, it’s incredibly valuable to be one myself. I’m able to really understand the customer experience which helps me easily assist them with whatever issue or concern they come to us with.
As a customer, I’ve also been able to see how much money pay-per-mile insurance has saved me and my family – I love being able to support such a great service and share my experience with friends, family, and customers.
Mesa, Arizona native Josh Collins isn’t wasting any time. Starting as a claims investigator in 2019, he’s already on his second career at Metromile as a data analyst. We talked to Josh about what originally brought him to Metromile, his exciting new role, and what he loves most about his work.
What was your career like prior to Metromile?
When I graduated college, I fell into a role as a claims adjuster for an auto insurance company and worked there for a few years then I went back to school while working to get a master’s in data analytics. At that same time, I had a friend who was working in claims for Metromile. In talking with my friend, I came to understand that Metromile was a company that highly values data science and data analytics, so that was my first inkling that it might be a good fit. It was clearly a place that had a lot of opportunities.
What was your first role at Metromile?
Initially, I interviewed for a claims position since I already had that experience. I got the job and started out doing claims investigations in the special handling unit (SHU), which specifically investigates claims with a higher risk for fraud. I worked in claims for over two years while also working on finishing my master’s degree.
While I was working in claims, my manager allowed me to take on several side projects so I could learn more about the company and gather experience that I could later pull from.
Eventually, he connected me with the data analytics team, where I received a hands-on mentorship that helped me learn what it takes to be a successful data analyst. I just started my new role in data analytics this month!
What does your new role as a data analyst entail?
I’m on the Insights team, which provides data support for all the various departments here at Metromile. For example, say the Claims team requests a report to understand trends within their scope of the business. My job would be to write the query that pulls the data, analyze the data, create any relevant visualizations, and then present my work to the claims team in a medium that best suits the request, whether that’s a dashboard (i.e., a visual presentation of requested data), a spreadsheet, or a written report.
What else do you do besides provide support for various departments?
Though the bulk of our work involves supporting other teams, we also continually monitor health metrics for the company. That might include anything that’s crucial to the business, for example, how many policies are in force at any one time.
We also assign a team member every week to follow health metrics for our existing dashboards. That usually entails checking in on the dashboards regularly throughout the day to make sure there are no anomalies. If anything pops up that’s out of the ordinary, that person lets the rest of our team know so we can decide who to notify, how to investigate the issue, and what needs to be done to address it.
It’s also our job to monitor customer service ratings, to ensure our customers are satisfied with the services we provide. A lot of people may not necessarily think of customer satisfaction when they think of data analysis, but it’s a huge component of what we do. It always comes down to the customer.
What do you like most about working at Metromile?
For me, the biggest strength of working at Metromile is its culture. Everybody really cares about each other here, and people get pretty emotionally invested in everything that goes on. I’m not someone who usually says “ Oh, the workplace is like a family.” But Metromile really is as close as you could get to that. As I mentioned, management on my claims team knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do next. Though it was no immediate benefit to them, they still did everything they could to help me grow as a professional and get me over to the team that I wanted to be on. There really aren’t any selfish people at Metromile. It’s a very supportive and nurturing environment, where everybody wants everyone else to succeed. We all set each other up for success, whether that means staying in the same role or moving on.
What advice would you give to future applicants?
We have one value here we call “invent the future.” It’s all about looking at what we can do that pushes the envelope in the industry, regardless of which department you’re in. So we love people who are very creative in their thought process and in the way that they approach their work—people with unique mindsets and ideas.
We’re also dedicated to creating fiercely loyal customers, so we want people who will always put the customer first. As a data analyst, sometimes my “customer” is other departments here at Metromile. I treat an internal customer with as much care and attention as a customer buying an insurance policy. We’re really looking for people like that, who already have that customer-first mindset.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I play ice hockey and I also enjoy mountain biking. I have a hard time committing to going to the gym every day so I try to do fun outdoor activities that keep me active. I also have four dogs, so my wife and I spend a lot of our free time with them. It’s a zoo, but I love it!
Morgan Starr is just getting started, but in her short time as a claims rep, she’s already making great strides.
What did you do prior to Metromile?
I graduated from ASU (Arizona State University) with a degree in biological sciences, and my plan was to go to pharmaceutical school. But when I was working as a clinical technician at a pharmacy, something wasn’t clicking. I wasn’t in a financially stable position, and I also realized it wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore. I didn’t know what my next steps would be, but I was open to new opportunities and ready for a new challenge.
What brought you to Metromile?
Once I decided against pharmaceutical school, I started doing a lot of Google searching, checking out Glassdoor, etc. I was looking for something that would pique my interest. That’s when I stumbled on the claims representative position at Metromile. When I interviewed, I was able to meet the people here and see what the culture was like. Although this was something I’d never done before, it just felt like a good fit. Plus, there’s a super thorough training and licensing process for new Metromilers who have never done claims work before.
I got the job and started in February 2020.
What does your job as a claims representative entail?
I was first hired as a claims adjuster trainee, which is how we bring onboard new claims employees. Now I specialize in bodily injury claims for customers without an attorney. When a person files an accident claim, you have to look at everything: Do they have proper coverage? Is the other driver covered? Were there any injuries? Assessing who’s at fault and guiding the person who’s just had an accident through the claims procedure is a complicated process. You have to establish a rapport with the customer. You have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s position, assure them they’ll be ok, and let them know you’ll do everything in your power to help make the situation easier. So it’s a huge customer-facing role.
At the end of the day, it’s really about empathy, not numbers or diagrams. That’s why I think there are a lot of people without an insurance background who would be a good fit for this kind of work.
What do you like most about working at Metromile?
I can’t handle positions that are repetitive, and Metromile is anything but! Each day is different, so it really keeps me on my toes. We recently found out that we’ll be transitioning to a hybrid model where we can plan a schedule that best fits our needs. That might mean being remote part of the week and in-office part of the week, or fully remote, or even fully in-office—it’s up to each employee. That’s really the root of what I enjoy most about working at Metromile. The company truly cares about its employees and it shows.
I also enjoy all the fun cultural events we plan. They help take our minds off of work, so I’m excited to start attending those again with my team and the rest of the company once we’re able.
What’s next for you at Metromile?
I’ve only been in my new position in the bodily injury department for three months, but I’m hoping to keep working my way up the ladder. Eventually, I want to be an attorney rep bodily injury claims specialist, which means I’d be working directly with attorneys to negotiate and settle customer claims. But I’m still learning and working my way up.
We recently went public in February 2021, which is really exciting. One incredible opportunity I’ll never forget is that we were able to send in photos of ourselves and be seen on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square. I was also featured with our CEO and a few other employees with videos of ourselves clapping to celebrate when the closing bell went off. It was really thrilling to watch, so I’m excited to see where we go in terms of growth with Metromile. I’m just happy to be along for the ride.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy working out. I’m focused on health and exercise, especially after a long week of work. I also have a bearded dragon as a pet. He’s two feet long so he’s a big boy. He’s only a year old and his name is Dart. After naming him I found out he’s a girl but I still call “him” a him. He keeps me company while I work.
Licensed Insurance Sales Specialist, Metromiler Since December 2019
Patty Knox is no stranger to change. Originally from Massachusetts, Patty started her career in pharmaceutical sales while raising her kids. “I stumbled into sales and found out I was pretty good at it.”
Once her kids were grown, she made her way to Arizona for a new perspective and a fresh start. “I moved back out to Arizona because I went to ASU and I had a couple of sisters living out here,” Patty says. “When I came out here, I had a gap in my resume for a bit, and so I just didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t have any connections, you know, no networking opportunities.”
But she soon found her footing, and after a two-year stint as an insurance sales rep for a large traditional insurer, Patty arrived at Metromile in 2019 and began her journey with a position in outbound sales. We talked to Patty about her role at Metromile, what excites her about the company, and what advice she has for future Metromilers.
What brought you to Metromile?
When I worked at a large, traditional insurance company, it was all bundling, selling policy after policy. I had some success there, no question, but their rates for auto insurance were actually quite high. And I would have people say, ‘I hardly even drive this car!’”.
When I first heard about Metromile, I thought, this is exactly what the auto insurance industry needs: fair pricing. Car insurance is a commodity that everybody has to have, and nobody wants to pay too much for it. So I just loved the idea that Metromile was disrupting the whole insurance industry, and that’s how I came here. When I interviewed, I think I conveyed that excitement, like, you’re on the cutting edge here. I wanted to be a part of it.”
What does your job entail?
Right now, I’m on the outbound sales team. That means I’m reaching out to people who’ve connected with Metromile previously but haven’t become a customer yet. It’s our job to talk to them by phone and explain more about how Metromile works and answer any questions they might have.
We do this because a lot of times people have a basic understanding of pay-per-mile insurance, but they don’t necessarily know the details or how it can benefit them. We explain that there’s a device you plug in the car that counts their miles, and we also explain all of the features we provide through our app and dashboard. Talking to people is important because we don’t want them signing up if they’re really not a good fit for pay-per-mile.
What do you like most about working at Metromile?
One is I love the energy of the company. It’s a small, fast-moving company, and I feel like we’re on the verge of something big here. I didn’t get in on the ground floor, but I feel like I got in when it was really starting to explode.
I also love the concept. Our niche is people who don’t drive very much, who very often are retirees. I love the fact that we can help retirees get more affordable insurance, when many of them are just on Social Security income.
But we’re not just a good fit for older drivers. Anyone who drives fewer than 10,000 miles a year is a good fit—people who live in cities, suburbanites who drive mostly around their town…all ages! I get excited when people are like, “Oh, this is great! We have this car that just sits there and it’s registered. We don’t use it much but we have to have it.” I love saving people money when they really need it. It is really very satisfying.
What advice would you give to future Metromile job candidates?
Somebody who’s joining us needs to have an open mind about growth. There’s so much potential for your career. When I worked at the other insurer, it was so hard for anybody to get into a role in management or other areas because they were so focused on the people who had been on board a long time. There weren’t new opportunities coming in. And so I think somebody who’s coming over here needs to understand that we’re a growing company, be flexible enough to understand that comes with some pain points, and be excited about what we’re doing. We’re disrupting the industry.
What do you do for fun?
I like to ski, but most of my traveling is back east to see my children. I have two in Boston, one in Mexico City. No grandchildren yet, but maybe once my kids have settled down we’ll do a weeklong trip to Hawaii. Luckily here in Arizona, it feels like vacation most of the time.