Over the long term, the demand for more and new coverages bodes well for the growth of the industry and our Company. At the same time, data and analytics, InsurTech, and new technologies promise to make our business more innovative, agile, efficient and cost-effective, but will require that companies reinvent many aspects of their operations.
AXIS has launched a Company-wide transformation program to leverage these changes to our advantage and ultimately drive sustained, profitable growth. While we have pursued a number of initiatives to drive continuous improvement and accelerate growth, we redoubled our transformation efforts in 2018. This year, we set the foundation for an ambitious plan to make our Company smarter, more agile and future-ready. Reflecting our ongoing focus on the transformation agenda, we named Linda Ventresca, a 15-year veteran of our Company, Chief Strategy Officer in August 2018 to work with our Executive Committee to deliver on these strategic priorities.
In 2018, we laid the necessary groundwork for transformation. Our efforts this year should allow us to improve how we work together in the future and help us leverage expertise from across AXIS — all to better serve our internal and external customers. Four themes guided our activities: creating a future-ready operating model, strengthening our processes and promoting innovation, fostering an agile culture and investing in a high-performance culture.
We actively broke down silos in 2018 to ensure that in 2019 and beyond, we better leverage expertise, data and resources from across AXIS.
We introduced integrated functional models for departments such as Finance and Information Technology (IT). For example, we brought our Finance, Risk and Actuarial teams together under one umbrella to increase collaboration amongst these groups and share insights that will enable better, faster decision-making. We also redesigned our IT approach and appointed a new leadership team that will enable more efficient decision-making and ultimately transition us to a new way of working.
We realigned our A&H business by separating the A&H insurance and A&H reinsurance units and integrating them into our Insurance and Reinsurance segments. We expect to achieve synergies by aligning these businesses with the broader Insurance and Reinsurance segments, while also creating opportunities for our A&H teams to leverage customer and partner relationships across the enterprise. This also should help our P&C reinsurance team leverage the geographic expansion and client relationships developed by our A&H teams.
We continue to invest in innovation, data and analytics across the Company to help arm our teams with the tools and information they need to make better, faster decisions. One priority has been investing in the ability to collect data, convert data into an asset and make the information relevant across the Company.
We also launched the Global Underwriting and Analytics (GUA) unit in January 2018 to enhance the underwriting process by fostering consistent, enterprise-wide views relating to underwriting policy and risk appetite, and bring consistency to our portfolio management globally. GUA is also starting to invest in partnerships with the InsurTech ecosystem — in July 2018, we launched AXIS Digital Ventures. See the case study “Innovation: Investing in New Capabilities to Win in the Future” to learn more.
Our actions have strengthened our operating model enterprise-wide to make AXIS more nimble and efficient. We are investing in specific initiatives across the Company to encourage this culture — a culture of agility — and in 2018 we launched a number of training efforts to help educate our employees about more agile ways of working across the Company. Our teams will continue to evolve and develop on the agile journey, ensuring that we are well-poised to execute on our portfolio and innovation goals.
We know that the people within AXIS — their expertise, drive and hard work — bring our strategies alive. Our people, through their interactions with customers, brokers and fellow employees, differentiate our Company. Toward that end, one of our top priorities is investing in our people. This enables us to elevate the level of service that we provide to partners and, at the same time, helps us to develop and retain our top talent.
We encourage a high-performance culture where people are focused on delivering valuable solutions for our clients and partners. We aim to reward our top performers for doing great work, while at the same time we encourage our people to develop critical capabilities and experiences that will propel their careers at AXIS. To advance this culture, in 2018 we unveiled AXIS Academy, a learning and development initiative designed to help our employees grow and expand their skills. Through AXIS Academy, employees can access learning resources to bolster their expertise and future-ready capabilities while accelerating their development through feedback, coaching and collaborative stretch goals and experiences.
Through these and other transformation initiatives, we will continue to advance AXIS’ strategy to be a global leader in specialty insurance and reinsurance.