Education: Bishop Hartley High School; The Ohio State University, bachelor of arts degree, psychology
First job: Underwriter, Travelers Insurance
What has been the greatest business challenge you’ve faced?
In 2002, there was a gentleman from Illinois who engaged in a hostile takeover attempt (of State Auto). Certainly, that was a significant event in the company’s history. We worked with the board, who recognized that continuing the company’s operations and profitability was, in fact, in the best interests of all constituencies: the shareholders, the policyholders, the associates, the agents, the community.
Everybody was best served by maintaining and sustaining the track record that we had demonstrated over the years. Ultimately, the entire issue was litigated, and the takeover was not successful.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Communication. That has been a change for me. Even in high school, I was petrified at the prospect of making even the smallest report or presentation. I remember a lot of times waking up in the morning and telling my mom I was deathly ill so I wouldn’t have to go to school and face that.
Over the years, I have overcome that concern. I’m not saying I’m any good at it, but I think I’ve learned to be a reasonably effective communicator.