January 23, 2023

Inspiring Managers = Exciting Career Growth

Insights North America United States
Arch Voices

Meet Zehai Zerai

As the saying goes, it takes three years to acquire a customer and only three minutes to lose them. That is always on my mind, because if we don’t have customers, we don’t have anything.

I am a Business Operations Specialist at Arch Advantage, the submissions clearance group at Arch. Submissions clearance is the first step for an insured. Our group makes sure we can take on the business, according to the rules governing that specific type of insurance. One example is checking businesses with the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to ensure that they are eligible to work with us. I am responsible for responding to any errors, overseeing the work of my team, and answering questions from the underwriters who receive the cleared submissions.

I love my job. Essentially, I get to solve problems all day long! Sometimes, I feel like the police, guarding everything, but, quality is absolutely crucial in our work. A very simple mistake — such as misspelling the name of the insured — can have huge impacts.

We are a global team, with colleagues in the U.S. and the Philippines. Our teams are diverse, which is essential for having different ideas and finding new ways to work. The world is changing quickly; inclusion and diversity are more important than ever, because if we only hire and develop people who think and look the same, we will not progress forward. 

I was born in Eritrea, East Africa. I had to leave my country at a young age because of the war with Ethiopia. With luck and help from friends and family, I was able to emigrate to the United States, which provided me the opportunity for a better life and the chance to build my career. Once I finished my bachelor’s degree, I got into an insurance role after seeing friends in the industry. Very quickly, I saw this as a field I could grow in. Although we refer to the business by the single name “insurance,” there are so many different parts of the work that make it all up! Business analysts such as my group, IT, underwriters, actuaries, legal, are all important pieces to making our business run smoothly.

Meticulous About Quality Customer Service

I am a demanding customer, so, I always think about how I would want to be treated when thinking about our customers. My leaders know how meticulous I am about quality. I believe this is why I have had such steady career growth. I’ve been promoted three times since joining Arch in 2008.

After my first promotion, my manager asked me to deliver training to our new colleagues in the Philippines. I didn’t think I was ready, but I ended up enjoying it very much. I trained them one business unit at a time, with a clear plan for each. It took time to finish this training because every unit had different skills and processes, but it was an enriching experience. I got to see my colleagues improve every day. Their questions and challenges showed me that they were receptive to my training, and helped give me a fresh perspective to improve our work further.

Presently, I have twice-daily “huddles” with my teams, including the majority of my colleagues who are in the Philippines. I check in to see who is working on what, how the work is being divided — all with the goal of ensuring our submissions are cleared in a timely manner. The goal we are working toward is having submissions processed within four hours of receiving them. I am part of the team that is analyzing and evaluating digital automation tools available in the market.

“I am a demanding customer, so, I always think about how I would want to be treated when thinking about our customers.”

Recognized and Rewarded

In 2017, I received an Arch Achieve Award. This is an annual award given to employees who are identified as making strong contributions that benefit the customers and the company while demonstrating Arch’s values. Award recipients are nominated by their colleagues and selected by groups of past award recipients. It is truly peer recognition. While the prize money was wonderful, what was even better was the satisfaction of knowing my work helped someone else and was appreciated. In addition, I now have the prestigious honor of being part of the selection committee for the next round of award nominees. Receiving this award has made me want to work even smarter and harder, and to challenge myself in new ways. When I see colleagues who I’ve trained and mentored getting better at their roles and moving up and moving on, I know I am doing my job well. That is Pursuing Better Together: helping each other get to the next level. There is no finish line; the goal is constant improvement. Technology and the things in life that require insurance are always changing, and either we change to meet these evolving needs and challenges, or we lose the business. I have learned in my 14 years at Arch that if we work together, we can achieve goals that will benefit us all.

Zehai Zerai's headshot

Zehai Zerai

Business Operations Specialist

Arch Insurance | St. Paul, MN

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