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Nino Tarantino: A Shrewd Leader

Nino Tarantino, CEO of Octo Telematics North America, is a leading pioneer in Insurance Telematics with more than two decades of experience in the global telecommunications industry building startups and developing strategic business operations. Under his leadership, North American operations of Octo exceeded 1 million telematics policies users just four years after its launch in 2011. Nino is also Board Director of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVTA) and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
 A Global Manager
As a global organization that has employees in nearly a dozen different countries and four different states in the U.S., Octo is a truly distributed workforce. Nino says, “Although it can be challenging, it’s also incredibly exciting. We have unprecedented opportunities to build world-class teams with the best employees you can find anywhere they may be. It’s crucial to create processes that are clear and concise, and to invest in training to ensure employees feel your investment in their success from the get go.”
Building a Positive Workforce Culture
Octo does a lot of team building events and trips. “Last year, for example, we took the entire company to Las Vegas for an end of year/holiday celebration. We saw shows together, ate great meals and had some important downtime. The year prior we gathered in San Diego. In 2015, when we surpassed one million users in North America, we celebrated with a dinner cruise on The Spirit of Boston, where I handed out awards to every employee, recognizing them for their individual contributions to our success. We’ve also been F1 racing, on scavenger hunts, and many more events that allow us to let our hair down, gather together and have fun getting to know each other outside of the office.
I think another key component to morale is accessibility. As CEO, I am always accessible to the team. I am on the ground working with them – from selling product to visiting partners, to collaborating on our marketing – I work alongside them. It’s key for leaders to demonstrate a team mentality, to say not only ‘I’ve been where you are” but “I am beside you as well as leading the way.’ That’s a key difference between managing and truly leading.”
 Retaining a Top Team
There are naturally a lot of facets that go into finding and retaining the best employees. Once employees are a part of the team, Nino believes there are five key points to retention:

  • Opportunity – every employee needs to see a growth path and be supported to follow it.
  • Culture – it’s crucial to spend time cultivating an environment where people like, know and look out for one another, working together to achieve a common goal.
  • Communication – transparency is key in today’s work environment.
  • Reward – beyond salaries, rewarding employees for their hard work and recognizing achievements. This can be accomplished with big initiatives or smaller gestures. Remembering to reward people and recognize their personal and professional accomplishment shows that they are human and not just a number.
  • Benefits – our benefits rival those of much larger companies. Health insurance, company matching, 401k, generous time off, flexibility, etc.

Pioneering The Insurance Telematics Industry
Telematics and usage-based insurance are revolutionizing the industry. These programs offer insurers the opportunity to gather vast amounts of data they can use to develop more accurate rates and reduce their cost. Consumers, meanwhile, can benefit from discounts for safe driving, assistance when needed in case of a crash, better customer service, and more. Insurance professionals need to understand the various considerations related to these advancements, including how to choose a telematics partner, how to launch a pilot program, and how to market the program.
Octo Telematics was founded in 2002 in Europe and is now the number one global provider of telematics and data analytics solutions for the auto insurance industry. Today, Octo is the largest and most experienced insurance telematics company in the world, transforming auto insurance through behavioral, contextual and driving analytics for more than 60 insurance partners. Octo has more than 4.4 million connected users and the largest global database of telematics data, with over 127 billion miles of driving data collected and 340,000 crashes and insurance events analyzed (as of June 30, 2016). Octo applies proprietary algorithms to this market-leading database to deliver powerful new insights into driver risk, informing solutions that benefit both auto insurance companies and policyholders.
Ambitious Plans
Octo will continue to help the insurance industry evolve and grapple with IoT and how elements of it are affecting and changing their overall business models. For the first time since inception, insurance is being truly disrupted by technology. Telematics data is enabling insurers to add and broaden offerings through usage-based insurance, actuarial pricing, claims management, crash reconstruction, and stolen vehicle recovery – all of which offer consumers additional reasons to interact with their insurance companies.
Nino foresees new opportunities even with the growing popularity of autonomous cars. “There will be a stronger need to collect and analyze data from the connected, autonomous car because not only is there data in the information that comes from the car itself, but there is information that comes from the contact – the contextual data. It’s important to understand what happened, the timing, the weather conditions, the traffic conditions, if there was some point of interest nearby, etc. In the future, with OEMs selling already connected cars, there is going to be more and more of a need for private companies that expressly analyze telematics data from connected cars.”
Products that enable insurers to deliver new value to their policyholders will continue to be developed, improving the insurer to policyholder relationship, and providing new revenue opportunities for insurance companies.