CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Fabrizia Roberto, Co-Founder & CEO at Koverd

Fabrizia Roberto is the co-founder & CEO at Koverd, an online platform to connect people and their insurance providers in a quicker and easier way.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have a Bachelor Degree in Media and a Masters Degree in Marketing and Business Communications and started my career in Sydney working for a number of media owners and media agencies.

In 2013 I had the amazing opportunity to join Youi Insurance and relocate to the Sunshine Coast, where they are headquartered.

I initially set up their in-house media team and for a period of time – as marketers often say – I was a marketer who happened to be in insurance.

Over time, however, I got to really love the insurance industry and its complexities and in my most recent role as Chief Growth Officer there I truly appreciated the challenges that insurers face in acquiring, servicing and retaining customers. Due to competitive pressures, regulatory requirements and oftentimes systems and processes that need modernising.

I also could see the other side, where customers were feeling frustrated and disappointed in their interactions with insurers, leading to low satisfaction and trust.

I felt that there had to be a better way, possible one that challenged the engrained apathy and traditional views both insurance buyers and providers hold of each other. But I also knew that no individual insurer could achieve that feat on their own.

So, I set out to create koverd –  a new-generation insurance intermediary that truly puts the customer at the centre and in doing that manages to lower costs for consumers and insurers alike. A win-win!

I am one of the two co-founders of the business and its CEO. The other half of our co-founding duo is Alok Nabi, an amazing engineer with deep expertise in financial services software solutions, who is koverd’s CTO.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

To be completely honest, a typical day in my life these days is less than typical. It’s full of surprises and ups and downs and still something that I am adjusting to managing.

In my previous life, my diary was full of meetings – mostly set by others who needed my view on a project, or providing updates on a stream of work, or service providers sharing their latest products and services.

It was full-on but it was the type of day where you bring your stamina and your medium term view of what you need to achieve and you surrender to the flow of meetings, people and information.

Now, things are quite different. At the moment, it’s just the two of us co-founders and some amazing advisors who support and help us along the way. There isn’t an extensive team that needs my input and attention. There is very little that happens, unless I initiate it myself. And no externally imposed flow of work to drift in.

I love it but it can also be tough. 

So my days start with doing a mental recap of what needs doing – work, home, what meetings or deadlines are coming up today?

I then sort out my daughter ready for school and as she leaves and the house quietens down I head upstairs to my home to study and start working. 

This means making and checking my to do list and reprioritising it daily to ensure the most important and urgent items are getting ticked off. I am also very aware of the type of activities I need to set in motion to ensure I can get responses and actions from external stakeholders within the set timelines. 

My days still have lots of meetings in them, but now they are mostly set by myself and take place via Google Meets. I chat with investors, advisors, potential partners, service providers and recent candidates for the roles we are hiring.

I draw a lot of energy from talking with others about the business, our vision and plans and all of these conversations have been really important in shaping the path we are taking with koverd.

I tend to throw myself with intensity in my work and I often don’t leave my desk until I am satisfied I’ve achieved as much as I’d like. With a startup, you never achieve as much as you’d like though and I am learning that it’s important for me to recognise that and build short breaks here and there in my day. I am still working on that!

I leave to pick up my daughter from after school care at about 5.30pm and from there until 8pm usually it’s family time. Checking out what she’s done at school, cooking dinner, eating together and then the daily wrestle to get her in bed.

After that, Alok and I jump on our daily catch up call. We discuss what we achieved that day, what needs attention and schedule separate workshops for strategic collaborative work. 

After that it’s another couple of hours of work until it’s time to head to bed. Thankfully I am blessed with the ability to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and I get a good rest before starting all over again.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Absolutely. I am in the Sunshine Coast, while Alok is in Sydney and we are currently hiring a fully remote team. Flexibility is really important for us and to be able to offer that to our team members is something we feel strongly about.

The world has collectively proven that remote work (for certain types of roles) is absolutely possible, giving people back time from sometimes soul destroying daily commutes and decreasing the impact of those commutes on our environment.

Having young families, Alok and I both know that the right people will perform wonderfully if empowered to work flexibly toward achieving common goals.

Of course it takes deliberate work to ensure that a team spirit and company culture develop well even with limited in-person interactions but we believe that’s the best way forward for us.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

To be completely transparent, I am not at all a role model when it comes to work-life balance. I have never been. But I am trying to improve as I recognise that burnout is the opposite of that high performing state I so much strive for.

Work-life balance for me means ensuring I have a good night sleep, eat healthy and my family gets 100% of me for enough of the week. 

That takes again deliberate effort and planning, as my default mode is to fill every single moment with working at the biggest challenge, which at the moment is the growth of the business.

I think planning is the key in many ways. Deciding in advance how you will allocate your time and being prepared so that you don’t take unhealthy shortcuts when it comes to nutrition for example.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Yes, I have. I have never been a morning person – it must be my Italian background! – but I’ve recently reset my sleep routine to make sure I am up before 6am. With a young daughter who demands my attention from the moment she rises, I had to try and outsmart her!

This way I get to collect my thoughts and make a daily plan of attack before the chaos starts. It makes me feel more in control and organised and lowers my stress levels.

To try and incorporate a bit of healthy socialising (ie. Socialising that involves physical movement rather than a glass of wine!) I head off for a walk with friends twice a week in the early morning. It gets my step count and my mood up!

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I know I am in the 0.1%, but I must admit I have not taken to podcasts and much prefer reading. I read a mix of business and personal improvement books and fiction (I am part of a book club with friends). 

Recently I’ve enjoyed reading The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates which really opened my eyes to the macro-societal impact of gender equality across different geographies and cultures. In terms of startup books, Sprint by Jake Knapp is a great guide to applying a design thinking process to what you do. When it comes to fiction, I always enjoy Liane Moriarty’s titles.

When it comes to newsletters, I keep across what’s happening in Insurtech both globally and locally with regular updates from Insurtech Insights, Insurtech Australia and both broadly the startup ecosystem with Lady Startup and Startup Daily

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

As many others, Slack and Canva are high on the list when it comes to software.

In terms of gadgets, I love my remarkable. It’s a tablet that feels like paper and I use it to collect and organise all my handwritten notes.

I may be old school but writing notes helps me capture and memorise concepts and conversations, much better than typing those down.

If I make an effort and write neatly (which I don’t always manage!) remarkable can convert my handwriting into typed down notes and I can share those with others. I can also sign on any documents and annotate PDFs and even webpages.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. I love her authentic attitude to entrepreneurship and while she’s now extremely successful and can have all the help she needs, she started with very little apart from resilience and a big dream.

I would like to hear what advice she has for some of us more ‘vintage’ female entrepreneurs, trying to balance family and business.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

As I said, I am not an expert but I would just invite everyone to think about what’s important to them and to recognise that while we may be able to have it all (maybe), oftentimes we can’t have it all at the same time. It takes flexibility and the ability to make conscious trade offs at times to get to your goals.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.