ITA Spotlight: Joe Spallina, Senior Vice President Employee Benefits, Assurance
Friday, April 19, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Joe Spallina, Senior Vice President Employee Benefits, Assurance. @j_spallina
Did you know that the technology sector has the highest turnover rate at 13.2% out of all business sectors [Forbes]?
Working directly with technology companies for 15+ years, I specialize in developing strategic benefit programs to help clients attract and retain top talent.
Chicagoan by birth or relocation?
I was born and raised in Oak Lawn, a southwest suburb of Chicago. For the past 15 years I’ve lived in various neighborhoods in the city. My wife and I currently reside in Ukrainian Village.
What about Assurance was appealing?
This is a story of, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” I’d been aware of Assurance for years through their reputation as being a Great Place to Work and had been engaged on their happenings from an outsider’s perspective.
In the last year at my former employer there were two separate occasions where I found myself competing against Assurance and the prospective organizations both chose them over my firm. I couldn’t compete with the total package that Assurance was able to offer. After that, I reached out to Assurance for a meeting and was an employee not long afterwards.
Joining an organization focused on company culture and creating an amazing employee experience was very appealing to me. In addition to the culture that was already established, it was clear that leadership wasn’t done and was committed to continuous improvement.
In order to compete in a competitive employee benefits brokerage market, Assurance from day one has built a platform that provides our clients and team members with a substantial amount of support. These resources include a robust financial analytics platform, personalized client engagement support, a dedicated compliance team, top wellness experts and more.
What do you like most about what you do?
The majority of my clients are technology firms - SAAS, PAAS, digital marketing firms and so on. This allows me to work with some of the most creative and technologically advanced firms in the nation. Getting introduced to new technology tools and systems never grows old and while Assurance isn’t necessarily a technology firm, I consider us an important spoke in the overall technology ecosystem.
With competition to attract and retain top talent, our clients are leaning on us to build top notch employee benefit programs to assist them in their efforts. Building these programs and being able to help our clients reach their goals is what I love most about the work I do.
Seeing Assurance’s growth as an employee benefit brokerage market leader in Chicago’s technology community is very rewarding.
Which achievement at Assurance are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of building out Assurance’s niche specialization within the technology vertical. It takes years to understand the needs of a specific market. Once we built a strong understanding of the challenges facing the technology industry, it was then a matter of building resources and tools and entering into partnerships to provide a robust, tailored program. In addition to employee benefit programs, we’ve taken a strong position in the market working with our clients on their increased cyber liability exposure due to extortion risks, breaches and hacking.
What’s your outlook on the local tech industry?
I’m bullish on the local tech industry. With the Midwest roots in manufacturing, insurance and other long-standing industries, the time is ripe for smart entrepreneurs and some of the leading early-stage investment groups to partner to introduce revolutionary and disruptive technology. This is happening as we speak and it provides me with great confidence and excitement in the tech community.
What did you want to be when you were in kindergarten?
A police officer like my father or a firefighter like his brother, my uncle. The respect they had from their community was remarkable. The ear-piercing sirens and lights were exhilarating to me as child.
What is the hardest challenge that you’ve faced on your professional journey?
Navigating through significant industry changes due to the Affordable Care Act. These changes have made the brokerage community take on significant investments in compliance advisory that hadn’t been needed in the past. It’s been a game changer and shows no future signs of being less complicated, but we have the compliance support we need to confidently navigate any future changes.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
Early in my career a mentor encouraged me to focus on the skill of empathy. Being able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and connect with them and their situation or circumstance provides insight that otherwise is difficult to obtain.
It also takes empathy to understand the real need of potential target clients. You’ll save both their time and your time if you’re able to determine if your solution is the right fit rather than trying to sell them.
What is the one thing that keeps you up at night?
Keith Morrison Dateline specials before bed.
What kind of technology could you not live without?
The easy answer is mobile. Every aspect of managing my life - personal, business and health - is accessible through mobile. Based on the life altering capabilities made in mobile over the past 10 years, I can’t imagine what 2029 will look like.