Rosaline Chow Koo knows a thing or two about pain points. Whilst running the employee benefits business at global consulting firm Mercer, she recognised that the model of insurance brokerage was fast becoming outdated.
The notion became acute after HR clients complained of rocketing premiums due to chronic illnesses. Companies were paying more each year, yet young workers or married employees (already covered by working spouses) did not value a benefit they didn’t really use.
Rosaline decided it was time to get creative and came up with a scheme that allows employees to personalise their insurance to meet individual needs, shifting any unused allowance towards programmes that made them healthier. A double win. But the high-ups were not convinced and declined to fund it.
Five years later – after investing her family’s entire live savings and a ton of hard work – Rosaline heads a company that delivers her original idea. She has also won multiple awards, including ‘HR Vendor of the Year for Corporate Wellness’ and Asian Human Capital’s Leadership Award 2017.
So, what’s her secret?
“It’s difficult to change without a mindset and culture of innovation,” Rosaline tells Cegos. “I travel to a lot in countries across Asia and have seen a great deal of innovation in family conglomerates, MNCs and start-ups. The biggest barrier to entry that I can see is the ‘fear of failure’ mindset that’s more prevalent in Asia than in the West.”
Innovate to accumulate
Rosaline has become so successful in part because of an innovation mindset. How does she create new competitive advantage that challenges the norms of today?
“The traditional brokerage industry focuses on negotiating the best price for employee benefits insurance,” she says. “CXA does that and enables employees to personalise benefits, as well as repurpose excess insurance spend into early detection and disease prevention services to improve their health.
“Firms get the real-time data analytics to offer targeted wellness interventions that combat chronic disease. These reduce escalating costs and provide an ecosystem to consolidate all their insurance, healthcare, screening, fitness and disease management vendors. Best of all, they can do this without spending more, by purchasing their employee benefits via CXA’s brokerages.”
Ever the inventive entrepreneur, Rosaline has introduced her own brave new ways of working into her company.
In a blog about her AHC win, she writes: “To prepare people to succeed in these growth roles, we built the CXA Academy, which offers a combination of soft and technical skills training, alongside insurance and healthcare knowledge. According to the Ministry of Manpower, our start-up provides 30% more training than the huge MNCs.”
Rosaline then gives an example of how she saw the potential in one employee and motivated her to achieve great things: “We moved Sarah, a high potential employee from the SME back office, to a technology role on-boarding new clients onto our platform. From there, she was promoted to a client-facing role, all within 3 years. She received coaching and training, and is now training others to follow in her footsteps.”
It’s only fitting, then, that Rosaline is giving the keynote at an event showcasing the innovators of brave new thinking in the workplace.
For now, she has a few words of advice for those in traditional organisations who want to accelerate change and transform their company into one fit for the future.
“For me, the key to innovation is focusing deeply on your clients’ biggest needs and pain points, and figuring out how best to resolve these,” she says. “If not, someone else will, and those clients may leave you for your new competition.”