Kathleen Tierney, EVP, Chubb & Son, and COO, Chubb Personal Insurance (CPI), is justifiably proud of her many accomplishments, which include being the first woman at the company to run a strategic business unit. But it's the results in her current role, which she's had since 2010, that wowed the WIL judges: 10 quarters of profitable growth and 4-percent premium growth in each of the last two years for overall premium growth of more than 8 percent.
Tierney is responsible for the profit and loss of CPI, the most profitable of Chubb's three strategic business units, with $4.1 billion of net written premiums in 2012, 35 percent of Chubb's total premiums.
Tierney is Chubb's highest-ranking female P&L leader, and has had plenty of experience there. She began her career as a surety trainee with the company in 1990, right out of Williams College.
"I've been with Chubb my whole career. And when I was looking for a job, it was really less about what industry I was in and more about choosing the company. It just happened to be in insurance. I started the job and thought, 'I'll do this for a little while and then I'll go back to school,' or whatever it might be. But I've been fortunate because I've worked in a lot of different areas in Chubb; and when I felt like I was ready for a change, or feeling a little bit anxious or itchy to try something new, there always was another opportunity to do so."
Over the past 23 years with Chubb, Tierney has served as an underwriter, managed the New York City Surety operation, became administrative officer for the New York City branch, built Chubb's first company-wide market research capability, founded Chubb's corporate development function, became strategic marketing manager for Chubb Specialty Insurance (CSI), and served as CSI's Eastern territory manager.
"I've been in different areas of the company, corporate and field, P&L jobs and support jobs. It's been kind of all over the map, but actually that's been the really fun part about it," she says.
Now, CPI's success can be attributed to several related best practices implemented by Tierney and her team in the past year, including the use of specific new technologies, such as predictive analytics for pricing, enhanced online quoting capabilities and mobile technologies, to provide competitive advantage. Tierney has always viewed IT as an integral component of process and of the business.
Still, Tierney remains humble about her unit's results.
"Our growth and the fact that we've had consecutive quarters of growing our book of business, that's owned by the whole organization. That's the point, right? That's my role as a leader - to try and harness that and then clear hurdles for people and then get out of the way and let the organization do its thing."
Tierney invests heavily in the people part. She personally mentors numerous individuals, serves as the executive sponsor of Chubb's Black Employee Network and has been a long-time supporter of Chubb's Global Women's Development Council (WDC) and their diversity and mentoring initiatives.
"I was brought onboard by a friend and a mentor. At the time, I was running Chubb's market research function and I got involved with the WDC to do a little bit of research on just what the state-of-the-state was with women-owned agencies and how we might partner with them more. That was how I got exposure, and then I got on the council. The way that our Women's Development Council had worked, the mission is to work on things that basically advance leadership skills and the career women in the organization. The council is not big. It's been somewhere between 13 and 15 women. So after doing that project, I was invited to be on the council and I ended up being co-chair and then chair."
One more point in the realm of leadership efforts: Tierney has been recognized within Chubb for actively supporting the Chubb Partnership of Women (CPOW), an employee resource group that strives to encourage, enable and engage women at all levels at Chubb to pursue and practice career development and leadership skills. While the group initially provided women from IT and finance the platform to work on their careers and share experiences with other women in their disciplines, it has grown into an organization open to women from all departments at all levels offering a variety of educational sessions.
And, Tierney's efforts benefit the industry as a whole. In 2010, the National Association of Insurance Women named Tierney Outstanding Achiever for her efforts to advance women in the industry.
Number of years in the industry: 23
Number of direct reports: 10
Company Size: $11.7 billion net written premiums
Nominated by: Chubb Corp.
For photos from the Women in Insurance Leadership Award ceremony, click here.
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