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Q&A with Ketan: How Coalition builds industry-leading products to help customers solve risk
Marisa Krystian

We are a technology (and data) company at heart but an insurance company by trade. Because our business is unique, we search high and low for experienced individuals who are experts in their field to help us on our mission to solve cyber risk. In this series, we speak with the people who make Coalition special and successful — a face to the email, so to speak.

Meet Ketan Nayak, Product Lead at Coalition. He has the unique challenge of helping build products that bridge the gap between technology, insurance, and risk management. He has a true knack for problem-solving and a talent for improv comedy. Find out why Ketan is so passionate about creating user-centric solutions that align with Coalition’s mission to solve risk.

What’s your story? Tell me about your life outside of Coalition.

I grew up in India. Both of my parents were engineers. Because of that, I was exposed to and interested in building things at a really young age. I came to the US over a decade ago for school, and since then have been building technology products in a variety of contexts and teams.

In terms of life outside of Coalition, there is a pre-pandemic answer and a post-pandemic answer. In pre-pandemic times I was a big fan of skiing, traveling, and hiking. The last year has been a lot of reading and experimenting with cooking, which has helped me become a lot more reflective.

You’ve managed a variety of tech and SaaS products. Why did you join Coalition?

I spent many years at larger Silicon Valley technology companies. After that, I was looking for a new challenge. At that time, I came across the team at Coalition, and a few things immediately stood out to me. The first was the team — the vision of the founders — the experience the early team brought in terms of insurance, security, and technology was really amazing. I knew I could learn a lot here.

The second thing was the company’s mission to solve risk for small businesses, especially those risks they didn’t understand or could control all that well. The final piece was the approach Coalition took to bring technology into an industry that is a bit behind the times. I felt I could really make an impact with my work here.

What is a day-in-the-life of a Product Manager like?

The day in the life of a Product Manager varies a lot. It’s hard to describe in concrete terms, though it can involve a lot of different things, including communicating with customers, engineers on your team, designers, and even business stakeholders. You spend some days thinking about high-level strategy and how you approach product building. Another day you may spend time thinking about the implementation of technical details on a whiteboard with an engineer.

What I will say is that foundationally you are constantly problem solving — in a variety of contexts and at a variety of levels, using a combination of communication, empathy, and insights to get to that outcome.

How do you engage with customers to inform product decisions at Coalition?

One of the special things about the team at Coalition and our product approach is how customer-centric we are in the way we operate. When we talk about our users, we take a really broad lens. It includes our brokers and policyholders, but it also includes our internal teams like customer success who use our products as well as our carrier partners.

We engage with our users in a variety of ways, from informal chats to more formal structured user testing sessions. I can confidently say that almost everyone on our PM team has built powerful relationships with their user base.

One of the cool things that happens at Coalition is that at our company all-hands meetings, we often share snippets of conversions with customers, the anecdotes they share with us, and talk about how that led us to certain decisions on the product side. I think that is very cool.

Coalition operates in a unique space. How has this impacted the way you think about building products?

Coalition certainly operates in a very unique space. The trifecta of insurance, security, and risk management has quite a few interesting product-building implications. The first is that, as a product professional, you have to be holistic in your thinking and problem-solving. The interconnection between these three areas means you can't just address one part of the solution and call it a day.

Another one that comes to mind is that security tends to be on the cutting edge of technology, whereas commercial insurance is a few paces behind. Our users experience both ends of that spectrum in our products, so we have to be deliberate and diligent in bridging that gap to provide them that complete and delightful user experience.

How can Coalition’s products help change the way people manage and solve risk?

To take an analogy from technology, I’d say the products at Coalition take a full-stack approach to risk management, compared to a contrasting approach from others that may only tackle a subset of it. We are proactive about helping customers shore up their risks and are reactive if and when an incident occurs.

What’s unique about our approach and our products is that we start helping our customers from day zero, even before a customer is officially a customer of Coalition. We provide them with insights and information that helps them better approach their risk.

I heard you tackled an improv comedy class to work on your communication skills. What did you learn?

To be honest, I took it just for fun, to begin with, but it ended up helping me in a lot more ways than I realized. As a product person, I’m communicating with a variety of people with varying contexts and situations. In these scenarios, listening is very important. One of the biggest things I took away from my improv hobby is how to listen well before reacting or commenting.

What are you most proud of as you watch your team grow?

The team at Coalition has certainly grown quite a lot over the last few years. What’s been amazing for me personally to see is our continued commitment to our culture and our foundational values. We have held true to those.

Another thing that is incredible to me watching our team expand is that I can continue to see my teammates operate with the same humility and passion as we did in the early days. We continue to be focused on our mission and our values, and I’m really proud of that.

What is your favorite product you’ve launched at Coalition?

That’s a tough one. There are quite a lot! Not counting the current projects I’m working on, I think launching Coalition in Canada is a top one. The reason for that is to launch Coalition in an entirely new country we had to understand the market, the landscape, and the high-level approach we would take. And at the same time, we needed to revisit every tiny detail about our product, our operation, and our process. We had to build systems from the ground up in order to make that launch a success. So that one is closer to my heart even though all of them are quite special.

If you could talk to the person reading this, what would you like them to know?

I would say that Coalition is the personification of technology-meets-risk management. We are a passionate group of people, yet we are serious about our mission to solve risk, whether you are a broker or a business operator seeking to manage your own risk. Also, if you’re considering a career at Coalition, join us! It’s a really exciting time to be on the team.

You heard Ketan. We are hiring! If you’d like to build revolutionary products in a traditional industry ripe for transformation, visit our careers page for more information and open opportunities.

If you enjoyed getting to know Ketan, why don’t you meet JT who leads our Customer Success team or Emily from our Business Development team. They work hard to build great relationships with our broker partners every day.
Coalition’s insurance products are offered with the financial security of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions* (A+ ratings by A.M. Best) and Arch Insurance Canada Ltd (A.M. Best A+ rating).
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*Insurance products are underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions