Twenty years ago, Sushma Punuru joined MetLife as an early career software engineer and began work building applications being used across the company.
In time, her ambitions grew into a desire to build the “next best solution,” with a focus on getting deeper into building modern digital solutions. But soon a mindset shift changed the course of her professional focus and her trajectory within MetLife.
“I went from wondering how I could build the best technology solution to thinking how I could build the best technology solution to solve the business problem at hand,” she told Built In. “It was then that I started to reevaluate how I thought about the solutions I was developing and became deeply passionate about creating lasting impact and value in everything I touched.”
“I became deeply passionate about creating lasting impact and value in everything I touched.”
That change in perspective became a transitional point for Punuru and inspired her to move into roles creating value to the business and to become a force multiplier at MetLife.
“The company, just like it always had, supported my aspirations,” she said. “Looking back, my comfort zone was long in technology and application development, and when I wanted to grow, I sought opportunities to lean into my expertise while adding new skills that pushed me out of my comfort zone.”
Punuru credits MetLife with building a culture in which employees can take on opportunities across the company to feel challenged and fulfilled — something she has experienced herself over the last two decades with the company.
Punuru’s commitment to MetLife’s culture leads her to pass those experiences on to her team. “As a leader, it energizes me to encourage others to aim for more so they, too, can look back and think to themselves, ‘Hey, I was part of something transformational and challenging that has made me not only a better person, but has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible.’”
I’m responsible for leading technology and digital for our U.S. Group Business, which provides benefits to our institutional customers across the United States.
We are working on a major transformation where we are simplifying and modernizing the end-to-end claims journey and reimagining every step of the way for our customers. This entails overhauling systems that are 30 to 40 years old and replacing them with fewer modern platform-based ecosystems while changing culture and organizational models.
What has kept you at MetLife?
I genuinely believe MetLife is one of the best companies in the world. We have an authentic and powerful ethos — we want to do right by the people and the communities we serve, even when no one is watching. We always show up and meet our people and customers where they are. Among many other things, the shared growth mindset, our company ethics and the commitments we make to our people and customers keep me here, happy and consistently motivated to do more.
“We have an authentic and powerful ethos — we want to do right by the people and the communities we serve, even when no one is watching.”
The beauty of MetLife is the diversity of roles and the inclusiveness of opportunities. The company has allowed me to have a job when I needed it and a career when I was ready for it. I hold that dearly and share it with those interested in coming here because I find that opportunity at an employer to be hard to find.
What are you excited to accomplish next?
As a continuous learner, I have a desire to expand my scope and influence while learning new things, such as: how we can leverage artificial intelligence in a way that our mantra of creating a high-tech and high-touch experience for our customers and stakeholders can be amplified; and exploring how modern tech can help to discover the art of the possible for business models and revenue channels.
I’m also very passionate about showing the world why MetLife is a leader across markets and how we’ve been able to make that happen by the power of our people and innovation.
What does MetLife’s employee value proposition of ‘All Together Possible’ mean to you?
To me, it’s about our people. As a company, we have been very focused on setting forth clear commitments around diversity and inclusion training for our people. By having this in place, it has created a work environment where our people feel they can grow, stretch and develop in ways they never expected.
This creates an environment of psychological safety, which, in my opinion, creates a positive environment where you see cross-collaboration, strategic thinking and teams leveraging each other’s areas of expertise. Together, we really can do great things.