2021 sees Sonya Strachan nominated for the Underwriting Excellence Award at this year’s The Australasian Life Underwriting and Claims Association (ALUCA) Life Insurance Excellence Awards.

Sonya, congratulations on your nomination. You have been at MetLife for three years, what has been your greatest achievement so far?

Being able to implement and drive several best practise initiatives at MetLife. I identified components of our framework that required improvement, embedded a new QA process in Australia, then worked with international colleagues to develop and test a global QA methodology and platform. I was proud when this was implemented in our wider region.

I work regularly with international colleagues and have contributed to the development of our global underwriting manual and our global competency standards and materials, including medical foundation learning modules, competency framework and skills matrix, which has also since been implemented across our global underwriting team.

What are some of the key things for you about working at MetLife?

There is a great culture at MetLife, a very collaborative one. I have been privileged to be recognised as a SME and have worked with other departments wherever underwriting involvement is required. This ranged from product development, regulatory changes and reporting, underwriting e-learning content, through to application forms and marketing materials for our Retail, Group and Corporate business.

You are passionate about supporting women in business, have you been able to explore this at MetLife?

At MetLife there is a focus on supporting women in business through the Lean In Circles and Women in Business networks. Being involved in these groups has helped me meet and become friends with some amazing people both locally and globally that I would otherwise never have interacted with during ordinary business. Learning more about what others do in their roles, talking through their challenges and celebrating their successes has made me feel much more connected at work.

I learned about many types of bias (and how to recognise my own biases), to be more proactive and intentional with my career, picked up practical tips for handling difficult situations, and realised I should have more confidence in my own abilities and accomplishments.

Finally, you have been a champion for working from home.

Yes, I’m based remotely and have worked in a hybrid style since I started at MetLife. I work mainly from home but come to the office when needed, it was great to be able to share tips with colleagues as they transitioned to working remotely.

What’s your number one tip for working remotely?

It’s harder to build relationships without face-to-face contact, but worth the effort. People working from home for the first time are often unprepared for how isolating it can be. It’s easy to discuss work-related issues in the office when you can simply walk up to somebody and start a conversation, but it’s harder from home if people have never seen your face. Go out of your way to introduce yourself and be proactive in maintaining relationships with your peers.

Find out more about working at MetLife