The Browne file Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2007
Age: 60

Born: Beaumont, Texas

Education: Bachelor of arts degree, Princeton University; juris doctor, University of Pennsylvania School of Law

What are the best business lessons you’ve learned?

Have the right people in the right places. That is fundamental. Also, spending time with your customers and making sure you know what they really think about you.

What skills are really important for a business leader?

The ability to check your ego at the door. It’s not about you, it’s about the company.

My judgment is that people with big egos can be successful in the short term, but if you really want your company to be successful over the long term, you have to get your ego out of it.

How do you define success?

To be successful, we have to do a good job for all of our stakeholders: our shareholders, our policyholders, our agents, our employees and our community.

All too often in today’s world, corporate executives think they have an obligation to everybody but the community, but I think we do have an obligation. Having a major corporate presence in a community is very important to the community. It provides a lot of benefits.

I was insurance commissioner for the state of Pennsylvania in the early ’80s. Back then, there were a lot of major property and casualty insurance companies based in Philadelphia. This area was seen as the center of property and casualty insurance in the United States.

Very few of those companies are around anymore. That’s a loss for our community, so I do think we have an obligation to our community.