Inspirational Woman: Janthana Kaenprakhamroy | CEO, Tapoly

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy is the CEO of Tapoly, winner of Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018.

Tapoly is an award-winning digital managing general agent (MGA) for SMEs and freelancers, and provides underwriting services, distribution, and an end to end white labelled SAAS (software as a service) solution connecting insurers with their distribution partners.

Janthana was listed by Forbes as number 6 of the Top 100 Women Founders to watch and is among the Top Ten Insurtech Female Influencers according to The Insurance Institute. Janthana is a chartered accountant and former internal audit director at top-tier investment banks. More information can be found at https://www.tapoly.com/

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Janthana Kaenprakhamroy and I am the CEO of Tapoly.  Tapoly is an award-winning digital managing general agent (MGA) for SMEs and freelancers, and provides underwriting services, distribution, and an end-to-end white-labelled SAAS (software as a service) solution connecting insurers with their distribution partners.

I was born and grew up in Thailand, but I migrated to Europe as a teenager. I originally came to London with just a suitcase and no more than £300 in my pocket. I trained to be a chartered accountant and had previously been working in investment banking; my last job was as an internal audit director at UBS. Prior to founding Tapoly I also worked at Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase, so I had a great deal of experience in the fintech sector.

The concept for Tapoly came in 2016 when I decided to let my flat through Airbnb. I searched for an insurance policy that would protect my property, protect my guests, and protect me against the risks of doing business, while providing the kind of short-term flexibility the sharing economy thrives on, but I couldn't find it. Tapoly was born with my co-founder Sam and I have since been building and expanding the business. Tapoly was proud recipient of Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and received Silver the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.

I am proud to have been listed by Forbes as number 6 of the Top 100 Women Founders to watch and named one of the Top Ten Insurtech Female Influencers according to The Insurance Institute. Most recently, I was Highly Commended at the Women in Insurance Awards 2020 in the Trailblazer of the Year category.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Despite insurance being a logical step from my work in Investment Banking and Accountancy, I didn’t expect to be CEO on an Insurtech firm when I moved to London, however I am proud to be pushing boundaries in this traditionally male-dominated space.

Today, I try to look three years ahead, so I often have a list of goals, actions and timelines for things I want to achieve. I'm obsessed with my task management! As a matter of fact, I try to set alarms for all my day’s meetings the night before just to make sure that I don’t miss any important events or tasks.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I faced many challenges growing up, so by the time I joined the corporate world I was no longer daunted by anything that I had to overcome in my career. I have worked in a number of countries and have had to learn multiple languages.

Running my own company means I have to face new challenges daily. The more money you make, the more difficult it becomes as you suddenly have more to lose. I tend to focus on each task individually and solve one problem at the time, so I don't feel demoralised and overwhelmed by any challenges facing me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Starting Tapoly has been my biggest achievement to date. The journey hasn't been easy but it's certainly been the most rewarding in what I have achieved and the challenges I have overcome with the support of my team. I think I have learnt more in the last four years than in the previous ten! It continues to excite me and take me out of my comfort zone daily.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think it's a combination of having the right mindset that allows you to grow, I am always learning, plus integrity and the values to support your learning and development, e.g. working hard, being on time and being reliable. Most important is resilience and the ability to continue when things don’t go your way. Business can certainly throw up unexpected challenges, particularly in 2020, and it is so important to keep going and adapt.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

My tips would be:

  • Seek out relevant qualifications and experience. You could reach out to a mentor or those you admire on Linkedin and find out how they got to where they are now.
  • Plan ahead and make sure that you have actions and timelines ready to execute.
  • Review your own performance regularly to make sure that the tasks are still relevant and you are moving in the right direction. You may discover a new area that interests you, like my move from investments to insurance, so make adjustment where necessary if your goals have changed or if the actions and timelines need to be altered.
  • Don't make excuses for things that need to be done, instead take one task at a time and just start.

For those that currently work in corporates, make sure you run your tasks and goals by your manager and ask for feedback, this will help you stand out.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Fewer than seven per cent of tech jobs in Europe are held by women and as a female entrepreneur in a heavily male industry, I constantly see just how few women there are in our offices and boardrooms. When it came to forging my own career path, I was perhaps lucky and never felt like I should not pursue a career in tech because of my gender and this is a mindset that I want to instil in the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. However, structural changes still need to be made to help women forge these paths they are dreaming about including increases in funding available, more mentoring and sponsorship opportunities and better access to education. These changes are occurring, but there is much more to be done to accelerate the pace.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

I have seen investment banks supporting women into an increased number of roles, and this should be celebrated, but there is still more companies could be doing. Companies should be implementing diversity and inclusion policies right through from recruitment to retention. Companies should be showcasing and celebrating the achievements of a diverse range of people, as women are making incredible advances in the technology space.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could wave a magic wand, I would have more women studying tech as a core subject at school. Change is going to start from the bottom up and encouraging girls to be involved in tech from an early age will push society to be completely open to the idea of gender equality and diversity in workplace.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Pre-Covid-19, I would have said in person conferences and networking events, as you can meet very interesting people who you can learn from and who could introduce you to new connections. But currently I would say look for interesting webinars and use LinkedIn to connect with relevant people. Virtual events are going on across the world! You could then organise some video calls with people you connect with to bounce new ideas or perhaps find new investors.


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