Industry Insights | August 01, 2016

Settling In—A Q-and-A with Mitchell’s General Manager of Auto Physical Damage, Debbie Day

Seven weeks into her new role as the Auto Physical Damage (APD) General Manager here at Mitchell International, Debbie Day brings a fresh approach and big plans for continuing to empower better outcomes for our customers.

As the new Auto Physical Damage (APD) General Manager here at Mitchell, Debbie Day brings a fresh approach and big plans for continuing to empower better outcomes for our customers. Just seven weeks into her new role, we had the opportunity to sit down with Debbie and pick the industry veteran’s brain about why she’s excited about her role, where she sees the most opportunity to extend Mitchell’s value, and how the needs of Mitchell’s customers play in the company’s roadmap and offerings.

Q: What excites you most about joining the Mitchell team?

Debbie Day: I’ve been thinking a lot about Mitchell celebrating a huge milestone this year—our 70th anniversary. Understanding our deep heritage and legacy in APD, the thing that is really exciting to me is how, from the very beginning, Mitchell has been a source of trusted innovation.

I’ve spent more than ten years in the APD industry and have always believed that listening to the customer is essential. Since I started at Mitchell, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of listening. I’ve interviewed hundreds of internal APD employees, and dozens of customers and key partners to gain a genuine understanding of where APD currently is, and where we need to go.

My takeaway from all this listening is that Mitchell has many opportunities and we’re working on some really exciting things. By leveraging our heritage, immense internal talent, and building upon what makes Mitchell unique, we are well positioned to continue executing in a truly innovative and special way.

Q: You mentioned that you’ve been traveling a lot, doing a great deal of listening and touching base with customers, employees and partners alike. What has that experience been like for you and what have you learned?

Debbie Day: The biggest thing I’ve taken away is how much our customers care about Mitchell. I’m really gratified by their faith in us. Many of the people that I’ve spoken with, I’ve known for many years, and they’ve all underlined how committed they are to Mitchell’s success. They posed questions such as, ‘What do you need from us?’ It’s an absolutely incredible opportunity to partner really closely with our customers and create a blueprint for where to go next.

I feel very lucky because I don’t have to learn the APD space per se. I can combine my domain expertise, with fresh ears—and that’s very important.

Q: What is currently top of mind for Mitchell’s customers?

Debbie Day: One of the most impactful insights I gained from speaking with our customers was that analytics are top of mind across the board. In the industry, both claims frequency and loss costs are dialing up the pressure.

In other words, given the large increase (17 million) in cars sold, and policy-holders getting into more accidents (despite advancements in safe driving technology), claim volume is steadily rising. One of the reasons is that people continue to be distracted, so frequency of accidents is going up. Loss costs are also going up due to special materials, a steady increase in electronics, looming CAFE standards, etc.

These emerging APD trends are beginning to change the trajectory of what is going to be expected for claims processing of the future—and that’s both for insurance and repair.

As a result, our customers want help in making fact-based decisions. They need data to deal with these trends in a thoughtful way and figure out if they’re keeping up with the industry or falling behind—something Mitchell has done and will continue to do.

Q: How will Mitchell address their customers’ demands and remain ahead of industry trends?

Debbie Day: One of our key objectives will be to simplify our technology. I know that this is a Mitchell value and it’s a powerful one. The challenge is simplifying in the midst of all this complexity. It’s an art—it’s really hard to make simple software, and it’s really easy to make complex software. However, one of the best parts of being an engineer and a designer is wanting to make things simple. You want to reuse; you want to leverage existing technology. Letting go to simplify is really hard to do, but is what makes it truly impactful, as you gain so much in that simplicity.

Q: Where do you see the greatest potential for APD?

Debbie Day: Our background in very rich, detailed editorial content that people rely on is what I—and many others—view as Mitchell’s crown jewel. Leveraging our content to make our products even more intelligent is something we are going to continue to do.

We’ve always used our content to drive estimating, for example. As we look at our next generation of offerings, there are ways to make them even smarter. So this is one way we can use our heritage to continue to innovate. As a result, we will be able to place even better tools and the ability to make better decisions into the hands of our customers. This is just one of the opportunities we have to bring additional value to our customers, and I’m really excited about it.

Q: How will your previous experience impact your role at Mitchell?

Debbie Day: I have held leadership roles in engineering, in product, in marketing, and in sales, so I bring a cross-functional perspective to APD. This broad perspective takes the following into consideration:

  1. What we should build
  2. Why we should build it
  3. How we talk about it
  4. How the strategy is implemented all the way into our solution

I’m grateful to have held these diverse leadership roles, as it positions me to help the company grow faster and scale to meet our customers’ needs.

In addition, I’ve spent my entire career in software, not just APD. I’ve created enterprise class solutions across industries—banking, insurance, financial services, manufacturing. Based on that experience, I believe that Mitchell has an extremely unique opportunity to innovate, and that we can have a lot of fun—and that’s why I joined Mitchell.

Q: Where do you see Mitchell APD in one year’s time?

Debbie Day: In one year, I foresee Mitchell APD bringing surprising and exciting new innovations to market. We have already set the wheels in motion to live up to this and will certainly have something to say at both NACE in August and at our P&C Conference in October—stay tuned!

Q: What is the most important thing that you want customers to take away from this interview?

Debbie Day: We are a new APD organization. We’re going to leverage everything that makes Mitchell great. We’re very committed to both our customers and our employees, and will simultaneously remain respectful of our heritage as we continue to help move the industry forward.

When I say new APD organization, I’m speaking for people like me who have only been here for seven weeks and for people who have been here for twenty-five years. That’s what makes us great—this combination of new and old enables us to leverage our experience and innovate like crazy.


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