Corporate Case Study: Sun Life Financial – Part 2

Spearheading change in Asia


The regional digital team, in collaboration with our business unit counterparts, are responsible for setting a clear vision for our digital ambitions at Sun Life. We provide the strategic direction, governance for initiatives, and act as a key enabler in support of the digital ambitions of our 5 markets.

There are 4 key streams that I oversee: Digital Marketing, Digital Experience, Digital Distribution and our Data & Analytics center of excellence. Our objectives are focused primarily on optimizing the Client, advisor, partner and employee experience, by focusing on convenience and engagement, supported through technology, analytics and insights, through a change lens.

Our digital roadmap places a large emphasis on applying user-centric thinking, and fostering a digital mindset within the organization by encouraging digital leadership, change and transformation.

What are the key digital initiatives at Sun Life in Asia?

Sun Life’s transformation journey collectively started about 3 years ago. It has been a consolidated effort on building the foundations, developing a common core across the region, yet appreciating the differences amongst local markets.

The road map has focused on 5 key digital initiatives in the region: SunSMART, our digital POS (point-of-sale) tool for advisors and partners; integrated digital platforms
for both our Clients and prospects, and our distribution partners; our Center of Excellence (COE) for Data & Analytics; and last but certainly not least, Digital Marketing excellence.

Why did Sun Life choose Squared Online?

I feel that, while technology, analytics, and experience are core elements to the broader business transformation agenda, success all boils down to people, changing their mindset in supporting the evolving culture of the organization.

People drive the desire for change, the key enabling force for organizational transformation. Education and training was one way that could equip our key strategic talent with the skills, capabilities and confidence they needed to take us forward.

I was looking for an education partner to support our training and education efforts – growing that extra limb so to speak, to address the capability and training need we had.
With Google as a trusted brand, Squared Online seemed to be the right program for us as it covered both digital marketing and some of the digital leadership elements.

The training curriculum placed much emphasis on customer-centricity, value propositions, user experience, iterative testing, data-backed decision-making etc. – the messaging was ideal to reinforce the digital mindset and culture change we at Sun Life have been building.

Using Marketing as an example, in a few years’ time, I personally believe there will no longer be a delineation between digital and traditional marketing. Digital will intrinsically be embedded and deployed across all facets of marketing, brand and communications.

The same goes with any role outside of marketing – digital will have a place in every function, and everyone should be accountable for digital KPIs they will be owning and delivering to.

How has Squared Online helped accelerate Sun Life’s digital transformation journey?

We have been nominating strategic talent for Squared Online, including CMOs and Distribution and Operations teams across Asia. The experience has certainly been beneficial, particularly in broadening the mindset, deepening the understanding of concepts and terminology.

For those in senior roles, they have the chance to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with others on group projects. These are rare and valuable opportunities – as once you are removed from execution-level work, you may lose some core competencies – especially in a fast-evolving broad areas of digital.

What advantages do you think the course gives your talent?

We started building our digital team two and half years ago. We have excellent capability regionally and across the business units, but the teams are small considering the large ambitions we have set our sights on and the range of transformation efforts we are enabling.

And we can’t do it alone – this is why it is all the more important that others, regionally and across our business units, can equip themselves with correct digital knowledge and capability, so that collectively we can build the right culture, and align mindset and approach, truly understanding the opportunities available.

We value our partnership with Squared Online, Google and Avado. This is our third year investing in this digital marketing leadership program – I’m still excited to be nominating additional Sun Life candidates as well as congratulating graduate colleagues from the region.

Squared Online is the award-winning digital marketing leadership course developed with Google and powered by Avado. The programme is designed to build leadership and collaboration skills through an interactive and hands-on approach and helps marketers develop their knowledge and confidence in all things digital.

Want to hear more about how Squared Online can make an impact?

You can contact us at the following: | +65 6876 7908

Radzif Nasri

Posted August 11, 2019