“Executives who’ve been in this business for 30-40 years and have a lot to offer, go for a role where they can really impact younger people coming into the business”, says John.
Sharing his journey from joining Chubb Underwriting direct from school, John maintains that one of his greatest advantages early on, was learning how to underwrite, before moving back to his Californian roots, where he joined Heffernan Insurance Brokers as employee no. 19 in 1991.
John charts the organic growth of the business before moving in to M&A 6 years ago, with Heffernan having a current team of 540 and being one of the few independent retail brokers in the U.S. over $100m.
“My background has been bringing young people on, mentoring them in a very collaborative environment. It’s impossible to have organic growth as a company without a very strong collaborative culture.”
John discusses moving in to a leadership role at Heffernan, biggest career achievements, pushing peers out of their comfort zone and draws similarities between the early days at Heffernan and launching London-based Costero Brokers.
“I’m in kind of a similar situation here but I’m further along and more mature in my career. But it’s a challenge when you’re pushing your peers out of their comfort zone and pushing them to trust you. Not that they don’t, but you’re kind of getting to the limits of that trust. It’s challenging, but I also find it somewhat invigorating.”
John explains how he’s dealt with setbacks along the way, “It’s really important that I’m surrounded by people that I trust and I care about. A lot of the setbacks I’ve had would have been impossible alone. I don’t know how people do this stuff when they operate in a bit of a vacuum.”
Clarifying Heffernan’s approach to embracing tech and digital change, John talks through his outlook on the industry, challenges for executives and the opportunities for high-performing talent.
“We let people create the careers they want. I’ve always thought that my job is to keep really good people and facilitate their growth. It’s not to manage them.”
John concludes by sharing his concerns about the impact remote-working is having on mentoring and developing the next generation and his advice for insurance professionals considering their next steps.
“It’s a good business. If you’re not enjoying it, find something else.”
The Insurance Coffee House Podcast is hosted by Nick Hoadley, CEO, Insurance Search, the Executive Search Consultancy for growing Insurance and Insurtech businesses across the globe.