#WeAreArity Wednesday: Henry Kowal
When my friend asks me what it is that I do again, I say…
At Arity, I develop products based on insurance clients’ pricing, underwriting and claims management needs using Arity’s vast amount of driving behavior data and insights. Understanding consumer needs for auto insurance is important too, and a lot of times I also have to “read the tea leaves” to see where the industry is headed. At the end of the day, I have to balance product desirability with technological feasibility, and economic viability. At this point, my friend changes the topic and asks me about the weather…
In your own words, what is Arity?
Arity is a data and analytics powerhouse (700 billion miles of driving data and counting!) that gathers transportation and driving behavior data sourced from mobile apps, cars, and devices plugged into vehicles. We have really smart people, such as engineers, data scientists, experience designers, just to name a few, that develop processes to collect, cleanse, and analyze the data to develop products and services based on the derived driving data insights. An example of this is Arity IQ, where an insurance company can retrieve an auto insurance customer’s driving score to help determine how much they should pay for their policy.
What is your work from home set up like?
I setup a working space with a desk, drawer cabinets, and my kids’ art projects on the wall, pre-COVID, for my kids to use for their homework, crafts, etc. I remember we all had fun shopping at IKEA, meandering through the different sections to find the pieces and enjoyed a Swedish meatball lunch. In the end, they never used the space! So, I took it over for myself during COVID and still use it now that Arity is permanently remote.
We all commuted into the office prior to COVID, how are you spending the extra time?
I had visions of quiet time, with a cup of coffee, reading up on the news and industry happenings, with a gym workout squeezed in. Instead, the reality is a hectic buzz of driving kids to school and activities. Although, I do try to fit in a walk or two during the day to get some fresh air, which really is nice and invigorating.
Most people don’t know that …
I am an accountant by training. I studied accounting in college, got certified, and started my career in finance. In those days, my focus was on financial and cost benefit analyses, budgeting, and forecasting – strategic finance activities. I had the opportunity to work on a “temporary assignment” to conceive a set of new products and services for the company I was with at the time, getting my hands dirty in strategy, technology, new product development, operations, etc. When it came time to move to the “build” and “implement” phases, I stayed on; essentially veering off the accounting path, and never looked back. However, I do have to say that my accounting training and experience has served me well, even to this day.
The theme song of my life is…
What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong. I wouldn’t say it’s the theme song of my life, but rather an inspirational song, especially during this time with COVID. Like so many, my family and I took advantage of nature – hiking, biking, etc. We also went tubing a number of times down the river that runs through our town – something we had never done prior to COVID. It was so much fun, but it was also very calming and peaceful to be on the water, in the sun, amongst the trees.
Would you get in a self-driving car? Why or why not?
Yes, I would for the experience, but I’m sure I’d be on edge. My friend owns a Tesla and one day when we were driving together, without warning he put his car into autopilot and removed his hands from the steering wheel to get his wallet out of his pocket. I’m not going to lie – I was a little freaked out at first! But, in the end, it was actually pretty cool.
Favorite innovation pioneer?
I would have to say Thomas Edison. He invented the incandescent light bulb, which I really appreciate, especially during the winter months when the days are shorter! He was also a prolific inventor with hundreds of patents.