Josianne Robb thought her career was over before it had even begun: a junior operations person at Euroclear in her native Belgium, she entered the wrong information on a ledger and cost the firm $18 million.
But instead of firing her, Euroclear’s execs told her to automate the treasury function.
“There’s no mistake that can’t be fixed, if you work with people who wish you well,” she said. “And if you work hard, you can handle any challenge.”
She embraced these lessons and built a career based on wading into the thickest problems in order to build a solution. She moved to London as an internal auditor at Salomon Brothers, then followed her husband to Scotland, where she switched to retail banking and became a project manager. “I discovered a passion for change management,” she said.
As early as 2008 at RBS she was leading what the industry would, ten years later, call agile development, co-creation and customer-centricity.
Post-financial crisis, she followed an RBS retail spinoff to Korea and fell in love with Asia. To stay in the region she took consulting gigs until she encountered the then-head of AIA, Mark Tucker, who was wrestling with how to make the insurer more responsive. Robb worked under Steve Monaghan, then the insurers’ innovation head, working to revamp websites and make it easier for customers to engage with the organization.
Robb wanted to add P&L management to her skills, so accepted an offer from Prudential’s Asia head of technology, Greg Kearns, who had just assembled a digital team and needed someone to run it. Robb introduced data analytics, robotic processing automation and the language of digital design to the traditional insurer.
Robb is leaving Prudential to head another insurer’s digital transformation across Asia. “We will focus more on customers, and invite them to the table,” she said.