Ana Sánchez Galán studied Higher Industrial Engineering, has been with Línea Directa for 14 years and has led the Technology Area for 11. Perseverance and hard work have been her great allies in building a successful career. Ana is optimistic, the increase in female role models will be what will help us achieve parity. At MCPRO and MuyCanal we have had the opportunity to interview her.
[MCPRO] You studied Higher Industrial Engineering. What was the percentage of women in your university class?
[Ana Sánchez Galán] Yes, I studied Higher Industrial Engineering at the Higher School of Industrial and Computer Engineers of Gijón. In 1992, when I started my degree, and in a small province like Asturias, you can imagine that the female presence in this branch of studies was very small. It still is today and almost 30 years have passed since I started studying.
According to the latest report of ‘Scientists in Figures’ published by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, women represent only 25% of people enrolled in Engineering.
However, I believe that little by little more young girls will decide to enroll in STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, for its acronym in English) because there are more and more women professionals in the technological field, both at a business and institutional level, who act as real referents, which will serve as inspiration. The more women we reach positions of responsibility in the technological field, the more young women will enroll in these degrees. I’m sure.
[MCPRO] You have been the director of the Technology Area of Línea Directa for eleven years. How do you get to this position? What major milestones has Línea Directa achieved in technological matters during these 11 years?
[Ana Sánchez Galán] I began my professional career in consultancy and, after going through different positions, I joined Línea Directa, where I have been for 14 years. 11 years ago I was given the great opportunity to lead the company’s Technology Area and it has been exciting for all these years.
I believe that I have reached this position thanks to perseverance at work, luck because you always need a little, that someone propose you, think of you… since the company has an equality policy in which opportunities are given everyone, regardless of gender. In all these years at Línea Directa I have never felt different treatment for being a woman, I think that in this sense I have been very lucky. Also, of course, thanks to the team that has always supported me both in all the achievements and in the difficult moments.
At Línea Directa we have always led digitization in the insurance sector since we were born in 1995. Our business model is direct, that is, we do not have a mediation network like traditional insurers. Precisely for this reason we have reached milestones in terms of digitization, always ahead of the market. If I am talking about the most recent milestones, in 2019 we launched the company’s Digital Transformation Plan under the slogan “More digital, more useful”.
With this slogan we want to convey that the company is committed to a digitization that has the customer at the center, offering an easy, friendly and useful user experience. And we are moving forward on that path. We are committed to omnichannel and technology in the relationship with our customers, adding a wide range of mobile services based on Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Assistants and Big Data to our telephone model.
This commitment to technology also allows us to have a differential customer journey, which, in addition to including solutions based on the latest generation technology, such as wearablesIoT or mobile applications, places the customer and their needs at the center of all business decisions.
To give some examples of our advances in digitization, we have been the first insurer to serve customers by WhatsApp, thanks to Artificial Intelligence we can assess the damage to both vehicles (in the motor branch) and ceramic hobs (in the household bouquet) at the time, to speed up the service.
We have also recently been the first insurer to launch pay-per-use personal mobility insurance for users of electric scooters and other VMPs, called Vivaz Safe&Go. And we are at the forefront of home damage assessment because, again, we were the first to use drones. In short, at Línea Directa we have always opted to use the most pioneering innovations. As we conceive it, it is the only way to adapt, with the help of technology, to the society of the 21st century.
[MCPRO] How has Línea Directa coped with these two years of pandemic and new normality?
[Ana Sánchez Galán] At Línea Directa we have continued to provide service to our customers at all times. In relation to how we have faced Covid-19 internally in the company, we have transformed our ways of working.
From the People Department and in collaboration with our Area, new technological tools have been implemented that have made it possible to have the most recent applications on the market to optimize remote and collaborative work.
In addition, employees have been accompanied in adaptation through a training program with the aim that all people could successfully adapt to the new virtual work environment, as well as make the most of the new utilities.
Currently, we are still at 50% of the face-to-face workforce in the office and we continue with established shifts so that there are weekly rotations of work in the office and work from home. This way of working is already part of that new normality. Again, in this matter and in this adaptation, innovation and technology have been the key to success.
[MCPRO] Technological management positions are usually occupied mostly by men. What do you think is the reason for this gender gap?
[Ana Sánchez Galán] Since the beginning of computer science and engineering, women have played a fundamental role in the profession. However, there is a gender gap when talking about positions related to innovation.
According to OECD figures, less than 20% of technology jobs are currently held by women. The same thing happens if you analyze female leadership in entrepreneurship, according to this same source, only 16% of the people who start a start-up are women.
This gender gap is due to the fact that, in the past, it was basically a field for men. With the incorporation of women into the workplace, this has been changing very little over the years, although currently initiatives in education and in companies are favoring opportunities for women in technological positions, which have become more necessary. never. I think that there are more and more referents in the managerial field who are women.
Also in the technological field. In addition, at an institutional, social and business level, real equality is being promoted in jobs related to innovation. In short, I am positive about the future and I believe that we are heading in the right direction so that the gender gap in STEM profiles is less and less.
[MCPRO] When will we reach 50% of IT managers and directors?
[Ana Sánchez Galán] It is a very difficult question to answer exactly, but I think we are moving towards gender parity in general and, therefore, also in ICT positions.
According to a study by Fedea, carried out this 2021 with data from the CNMV, in Spain women only occupy 11.5% of management positions in Technology and Telecommunications companies. However, thanks to the initiatives that are being launched from the educational, business and institutional systems, I believe that this percentage will gradually be higher.
I believe that you have to be brave and attract female talent to STEM positions because I honestly think that gender diversity in the technological and scientific field is essential. Fortunately, there are no longer any cultural prejudices (or very few in any case) and there are more and more female role models who are showing the younger generations that it is possible to dedicate themselves to innovation and technology. That it is possible to be in decision-making in this area if you are a woman. That there is a great journey. And this is great news.
Check here the rest of the interviews that we include in «Get to know them: women who run technology in Spain»