Women Leaders

Elizabeth MacGowan, National Life Group

Elizabeth MacGowan

Keeping Promises

Editors’ Note

Elizabeth MacGowan has been in her post since 2011. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Product Development, and held various actuarial positions within the company. She has also served as an Actuarial Analyst for Chubb. She is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and received her B.A. in Mathematics from Middlebury College.

Company Brief

For more than 168 years, National Life (nationallife.com) has worked hard to deliver on its promises to millions of people with their vision of providing peace of mind in times of need. It’s their cause, stemming from a deep passion to live their values to do good, be good, and make good, every day. Jackie and Kevin Freiberg, business consultants and best-selling authors, recently featured National Life Group in their book CAUSE!. The book explores the power and business case for creating a purpose-driven company.

How do you define your role at National Life?

The role includes life insurance and annuity product development together, which are the major lines of business for National Life Group.

The role is start to finish product manufacturing. We start with idea generation. The best ideas are the ones that include an element of real product innovation. We look at the needs of the people who are buying our policies, as well as ideas from our agents, and come up with some ideas on our own.

Once we have an idea that we think is worth bringing forward, we prototype that idea and test it with our distribution. If we think we have a live one, we move from there into detailed pricing of the product and design specifications. From there it is passed off to a team that does the implementation. They’re responsible for making sure that it gets put onto our administration system, that it’s filed and approved in each of the 50 states, and that there is a marketing plan and rollout that is ready to execute.

Is innovation happening on the product side today?

The best areas for innovation right now are not in the product area directly – they’re more on the business process side, such as streamlining our underwriting process, so people don’t have to wait a long time to get coverage.

The best innovation is achieved when we’re able to combine unique product features with a unique and streamlined process.