Natalie Sargeant has a zest for life, or should we say 'life insurance'. As Integrity Life's head of customer experience she’s been instrumental in delivering a better CX, as well as developing the firm's newly-launched tech platform for the retail market. Motivated by her personal experience with life insurance claims, she views the world through the customer lens and, for this reason and many more, has been nominated by Integrity Life as one of the industry's Unsung Heroes. (She's also danced with Mick Jagger! At Industry Moves we think that deserves an award of its own.)
"I love being surrounded by great people, doing a great job, for a great purpose."
What her colleagues have to say...
Chris Powell, Managing Director
Our focus on continuous innovation and on our customers are critical to the business success of Integrity Life. Natalie is the linchpin between the needs and wants of our customers and the innovative and creative solutions we provide them. She constantly draws our attention back to our customers - everything is based on the insights she gleans from her research with our key customer stakeholders. This facilitates the development of our innovative and creative systems, processes, services and products, which are usually co-developed with those same stakeholders. This is imperative in a truly customer focussed business. Natalie holds all that together. On top of that, she is tenacious. Once she gets the bit between her teeth, nothing gets in the way of her finding appropriate customer focussed solutions. Integrity Life would not be what it is without Natalie. She is a star.
Emilie Chell, General Manager Marketing & Brand
So many businesses claim to put the customer front and centre which unfortunately, they rarely do. Natalie is testament to the focus we have on our customers at Integrity. She sits across almost every layer of our business, assisting through insight and human centred design, with both internal and external problems. She is incredibly structured in her thinking and has created a team of experts who develop innovative, customer led experiences that have become a core part of how we do things. She is an invaluable member of the team.
Suzie Brown, General Manager Distribution
Natalie sees the world through the customer lens. She is curious and creative in her thinking and it is with her assistance that we are able to offer really meaningful and targeted solutions to so many of our adviser groups and business units. Natalie’s drive and rigour ensure we never lose sight of these things.
"Nothing gets in the way of her finding appropriate customer focussed solutions. Integrity Life would not be what it is without Natalie. She is a star"
Chris Powell, Managing Director, Integrity Life
Q&A with Natalie Sargeant
What do you enjoy most about your role?
There are so many things that get me excited about my job. I tell my husband nearly every day how much I love it and how motivated it makes me to create truly excellent customer experiences. It’s hard to stop me once I get started, so here goes.
I love working somewhere that is purpose and values led, where our whole company is firmly lined up behind making it all about the customer. It’s quite incredible. The opportunity to think about how things could be done, from scratch. To design an experience that’s truly omni-channel, where we can meet the needs of our customers (including financial advisers) as well as inject our brand’s purpose and values into every touchpoint. Being at Integrity has really shown me how an entire organisation can completely live a brand in an authentic and meaningful way.
"There are so many great people here with big ideas and we build off each other to come up with something greater than if we’d done something on our own."
To work somewhere were innovation is able to just bubble up. There are so many great people here with big ideas and we build off each other to come up with something greater than if we’d done something on our own. Working somewhere where design is absolutely embedded into the organisation, it’s just our norm, it’s how we do things.
Together with my colleagues we work really hard to find the best possible solutions. This has created an environment where people rarely say ‘no’. Of course we don’t always get it right but we certainly give it a good push. So I think I’m pretty lucky!
In addition, I’m building a team of skilled and passionate designers. I love being surrounded by great people, doing a great job, for a great purpose.
What drew you to the industry?
I started working in the industry by default. I didn’t wake up one day and think “geez life insurance is for me”. But as turn of events would have it, I’ve ended up spending a lot of my career working in life insurance. I have enjoyed expanding my view of the industry over the years, but when the opportunity to work with Integrity came up, the chance to really make a difference has reinforced my calling.
Life insurance is about helping people when they need help most. There is no greater time of need than when a person loses a loved one or suffers a health crisis. Being able work in an environment that offers support during this time provides me with a really strong purpose. I think about this every day when I come to work because it really means something to me and the society I live in.
"If Integrity can build more trust into the industry then I think we can provide an even greater service to more people in their time of need."
Life insurance is also very personal for me. My dad suffered a hypoxic brain injury when I was a teenager and as a result, became mentally and physically disabled. It was crushing for our family to go through. We initially lived on the IP money from his life insurance, which was later converted to a TPD. I know what it’s like for families caring for loved ones who become disabled. I know what it’s like to go through the claims experience. I firmly believe in the benefit that life insurance contributes to society. If Integrity can build more trust into the industry then I think we can provide an even greater service to more people in their time of need.
"I lived and worked on a tall ship in the Caribbean for a year in my early 20s and danced with Mick Jagger on the island of Mustique one time."
What was your very first job?
I’m going to go with baking cookies for my dad’s work. I was 10 and my sister was 8 and we’d take the order on a Friday and turn it around for Monday. We’d earn $20 for 3 batches and my dad deducted expenses for my mum doing the shopping and ingredients and the electricity to run the oven! #Lifelessons
Who do you most admire (in or out of the industry) and how have they influenced your life/work?
My mum. She was always my hero growing up. She gave us the desire for adventure and to dream big. When she was19 she took off on an ocean liner to New York to go and work for the United Nations. Pretty unheard of in those days! She didn’t return for 3 years, travelling and working around the world. And when she did return, it was overland, on her own, through Turkey, Persia (Iran) Afghanistan, India and Nepal. So, in my early days growing up, she really instilled in me an adventurous spirit and a belief in myself that I could do or be anything.
Later, as she cared for my dad when he became disabled for 9 years before he passed away, she taught me what it means to love and be resilient against all odds. This is what I learnt about motherhood and how I am trying to raise my own kids. It’s also what I bring to Integrity and how I shape and build my team.
What makes your heart sing?
It’s always been music festivals. Now it’s music festivals with the kids! And long lazy beach days with them. Nothing soothes the soul like music and the beach.
Where did you grow up and what was it like? I moved around from country town to country town. My dad was a civil engineer, so we moved to build the next dam, road or bridge.
I was always devastated when we had to move on and I’d beg my parents not to leave. Once I begged them to leave me in Yass in a boarding school! They didn’t because their moto was ‘we stick together’.
I have a younger brother and sister. We’d run through the bush a lot, build cubby houses, and we are still exceptionally close today. I’d happily live next door to them if I could!
With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell your young self?
When it comes to career planning, I’d tell myself to think about my family and the different stages of their lives and how my career choices could fit with them.
This wasn’t part of the conversation when I was thinking about what to study at uni. At that stage it all about what I wanted from my career and not what I wanted from my life. I think it’s important to consider how different career pathways can support different outcomes.
What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?
I lived and worked on a tall ship in the Caribbean for a year in my early 20s and danced with Mick Jagger on the island of Mustique one time.
Natalie at work
Is there someone in your organisation that deserves recognition for going above and beyond? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate your Unsung Hero!