Amy Schoemehl: Reshaping the Landscape of the Insurance Industry

The 10 Most Admired Business Women to Watch in 2021 Vol I

Helping other people in the world is one of the noblest acts in this world. With this same spirit in her heart, Amy Schoemehl is hoping to change lives every day through her meaningful work as a leader. She believes that a positive outlook is infectious, and if people who work with and for her see how inspired she is, it’s hard for them not to be on the receiving end of that vibration.

Her Journey

Amy is a fourth-generation Japanese American and always dreamt of attending UC Berkeley. After gaining her degree from the university, she started her professional career in a recruiting agency. Soon Amy left that world and joined Google in the mid-2000s and served there for five years, gaining many traits in her leadership personality.

She adds, “I was surrounded and mentored by some of the most incredible leaders of this generation. I learned a lot about business strategy, global mindsets, good leadership fundamentals, and innovation stems during her tenure at Google.”

She eventually left Google for the opportunity in a Series B startup. She wanted to be in an environment where the leaders had the same ethos and discipline as Google but were still very much in building mode so she could have a more prominent seat at the decision-making table.

After this, she joined Twitter which was still pre-IPO, and was looking for someone to co-lead the recruiting function. She states, “I never take my connections for granted and how important those relationships and my reputation are.  I believe in karma and paying it forward, and the more seasoned I become, the more importance I place on myself to be the advocate and sponsor for others, as others have been for me.”

Next, she pivoted her professional career to serve as a leader at Amazon. There she flexed every human capital, workflow optimization and technology opportunities to hire 300,000 temporary and full-time employees annually. Planning and executing these large-scale events honed her skills and added extra value to her experience. She adds, “I think the best leaders have experiences that span many diverse scenarios, so they are the ace in the pocket a business needs when a challenge arises. I am strongly supportive of stretch opportunities and giving “up and comers” the headway to succeed, but there is simply no substitute for leaders with depth and breadth of experience.”

Working at Amazon was the salient point where she decided to expand her horizons outside of core Talent and Operations. She adds, “I started thinking about the employee experience in totality and how leaders can affect better business results.  I still focused on acquisition but also became a student of how talent management and development impact business.  This paved the road for me to take on more visible, larger roles at Netflix and Stitch Fix to lead more of the entire life cycle of employees. ”

She further adds, “I am blessed to currently be the Chief Operating Officer at E. A. Renfroe & Company, a leading people logistics company; I am literally using every lesson here that I have learned along the way.”

Impediments along the way

Amy is a firm believer in making smart decisions in every situation and squeezing the best out of everything. She adds, “I often say that I am building a plane while I fly it. Being well-informed is optimal, but in life, we do not always have that luxury, and I think the strongest leaders have an exceptional ability to make sound decisions by connecting the dots with whatever limited signals they have.”

Previously, with the traditional approach, geography played a critical role in the hiring process.  However, Covid-19 changed the whole landscape for every company for talent hunt. Now companies have to realize that their access to talent does not have to be bounded geographically.

The latest trend is working remotely with decentralized workplaces. Amy adds, “What was once somewhat of a novelty will soon be a clear competitive advantage. The companies that embrace “hire the best talent no matter where they live” and allocate resources to support that dogma will have a leg up on their competitors.”

She believes that to mark her presence in the market, she needs to be resilient, flexible, and smart enough to read hidden signals.  She inspires herself with the famous Kenny Rogers song, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy you gotta learn to play it right. You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

Aiming work-life integration as COO

Working long hours for global companies requires a strict disciplined regime. Amy followed a disciplined approach to target it and was aided by a very compassionate family support system. On the professional front, she looked after Sales, Personnel and Recruiting, Training, and Operations. These lines of business work hand in hand with functions such as Legal, Finance, Tech, and Marketing.

She adds, “We are interdependent on each other, and I lean very heavily on my partners for successful and productive collaboration.”

She feels engagement plays a vital role in excelling in different aspects. She adds, “I am intentional to really know my teammates at every level.  I try to be my authentic self as much as I can and encourage others to do the same.  I am willing to be vulnerable and honest in service of optimized results, and team efficacy and throughput are exponential if everyone around me subscribes to the tribe methodology as well.  There is really no secret or shortcut. Being a good leader takes hard work, and the person must be dedicated, disciplined, and consistent.”

She keeps herself and her team motivated by giving and accepting high-quality feedback, learning from previous mistakes, taking onus for the assigned responsibilities, understanding intrinsic motivation, and having empathy.

She further adds, “I put in a lot of hard work and dedication, but I am also very cognizant that I would not have been able to have the success and trajectory I do without the love and support of the companies I work for and my family; it genuinely takes a village to raise a leader.”

Changing trend in the insurance industry

Technology has spread its roots to every aspect. Everyone in the world expects things faster, quicker, easier.

She adds, “Insurers are no different. The expectations of customer service, resolution of a claim, remittance for the claim, etc., is closer to instant gratification than it ever has been before in history. The companies that will prevail and thrive are those who had the foresight to stay one step ahead of these trends and forecast where investments could be made in service of their future goals.”