Jeffrey L. Radke, Argo Group

Jeffrey L. Radke

Cultivating Change

Editors’ Note

Jeffrey Radke has held his current post since May 2013. Previously, he was Managing Director-Syndicate 1200 from January 2011. He was also Director of Syndicate Management from August 2009. Prior to that, he was Chief Executive Officer of PXRE Group. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Insurance from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How do you define your role and what are your areas of focus?

Argo Group is made up of a number of companies that were acquired and brought together as well as businesses, like our Brazil and Surety businesses, which we built from the ground up. Each brought its own systems and processes, which we’ve integrated to varying degrees over time. My role was created a year and a half ago to pull together and improve the efficiency of all of the operation’s functions, such as IT, data, business process, sourcing and support services, and change management to enable each of the businesses to focus on their core competencies, such as underwriting, claims, distribution, etc.

What form do your efforts take in leading change and how do you engage employees in these efforts?

The first step is to define the problem, then you sketch out what the future solution looks like and what steps it will take to get there, and you communicate as openly and honestly as you possibly can about what sort of disruption this will create for people.

I am excited about the degree of change we’re undergoing. For example, we’re implementing a complete end-to-end business delivery platform called Edge. Our IT infrastructure is going through a complete refresh and we are getting much more focused on optimizing our business processes.

We’re also changing the way we manage change – we’re introducing a formal program management office with much closer tracking in terms of business value metrics and performance.

Additionally, we’re focused on becoming much more customer-centric. We do okay here, but there are so many opportunities today to leverage data and better anticipate the needs of the customer.

The final project might prove to be the most challenging. With customer efforts, time is critical, and compressing response time frames is vital. Customer expectations are changing fast. The issue becomes how we produce a quote in an hour, not a day. This gets to the heart of how fundamentally we have to change our processes.

With the amount and pace of change involved in all of this, it’s critical to keep everyone focused on priorities and monitoring key metrics to keep us on track.

Did people enroll in the transformational change right away?

I’ve learned that you need to be totally open and honest about what the disruptions are and also what the upside is. People can then make up their own minds, hopefully in an environment of trust, whether they are on board or not. For those who are, we have to make expectations clear and provide regular and meaningful feedback. We’re working hard on that. I think we’ve got a great team in place now that is focused on where we need to be five years from now and excited about the challenge of getting there. Our success will require me and my leadership team to keep our employees engaged and collaborative in the process.