Despite the success Jane Tutoki has experienced as Global CEO of Cunningham Lindsey – the largest global provider of independent loss adjusting and claims-management services worldwide – it may come as a surprise that insurance wasn’t the industry she first set her sights on. In fact, Jane pursued a career in law before realising her future in management.
Jane Tutoki takes the lead
“When I became a lawyer in the 80s, the trial work always pulled me into management roles. Eventually I stopped practising law and became a full-time manager of an in-house insurance counsel,” Jane explains. She admits that at the time, she had little idea about what she was doing.
“One of my bosses decided to take a risk and put me into a management role in claims operations. With some guidance, and lessons learned along the way, I grew into the job,” she says.
A great leader makes tough decisions, engages in conversations, and takes risks.
Jane later stepped into her first big management position in auto claims for Farmers Insurance, Los Angeles. Her role saw her managing some 10,000 claims professionals. “What I learned was the importance of having good processes in place, and to delegate and trust my team. You can’t micromanage 10,000 employees.”
With her management career taking off, she accepted a role in Zurich, Switzerland, which broadened her understanding of global claims. Jane muses that her professional history has been complementary to her current role. “It feels as if all my career choices gave me the combination of skills I needed for my current Global CEO role,” she says. “Three years ago, the CEO I worked under at Zurich called me and said he had a perfect job for me, referring to the head job at Cunningham Lindsey.”
At Cunningham Lindsey, employees are key
When Jane took over leadership of Cunningham Lindsey, she knew the company needed a turnaround. Having recognised the importance of a solid team in previous roles, she set about assembling one to bring the business back to a healthier state.
“I’m very proud of our employees who believed in the future of this company and worked hard to lower our expense base, improve customer service, and increase total revenue. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, but the biggest highlight is looking back and appreciating what we’ve accomplished,” she reflects.
While being the CEO is rewarding in many respects, Jane also acknowledges the inevitable challenges faced by a global company with a footprint spanning 60 countries. “Making certain we deliver the services our customers need in a timely and consistent manner is a logistical challenge,” she says. “Furthermore, the insurance industry isn’t growing, so most insurers are under pressure to cut costs. We must maintain our pricing discipline and continue to improve.”
Jane believes that recognition and mentorship are key when investing in staff and promoting career progression. One of the ways Cunningham Lindsey invests in its professionals is through a protégé program that rewards individuals for mentoring developing talent. “Employees have varying degrees of ambition and interests, so it helps to make certain they are getting the support they need to meet their personal career goals.”
Finding inspiration in the industry's top talent
In terms of her own professional development and career progression, Jane has always looked to her bosses, or leaders in the insurance industry, for inspiration. And these days, she finds herself looking to the industry’s new talent. “I’m inspired by the young talent entering our industry,” she says.
“Millennials see the world differently; I find it refreshing. They’re not afraid to challenge the status quo and have great ideas on how to use technology in a way that disrupts the current thinking. I can’t wait to see how they will transform the claims space. I love this business, and I want to do my part to attract new talent into this rewarding industry.”
Acknowledging that insurance can be a difficult environment, Jane says she’s taken great encouragement from her own mentors who advise her to lean into discomfort. “To me, that means meeting conflict head-on,” she says. “A great leader makes the tough decisions, engages in difficult conversations, and takes risks. We achieve our best outcomes when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone.”