When colleagues describe Robert V. James, there's no mistaking him for the tradition-bound stereotype of an insurance executive. Instead, they use such adjectives as progressive, creative and charismatic.Co-workers credit his high energy for rapid changes at Chicago-based CNA Insurance Cos. As executive vice president of CNA's Technology Solutions Group, James has attracted top talent to his team, launched an eBusiness initiative from scratch and revolutionized the way the insurer communicates with its agents.

James' formative years in the insurance industry came quite early-during college he worked part time as a customer service representative for Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co. He went on to gain broad business experience in the industry, including in personal and commercial lines, marketing and operations. In addition, he spent two years as the owner of an independent agency.

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