By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
There was no lack of praise Wednesday night to describe Aon Corp. President and CEO Greg Case, winner of the 14th Annual Insurance Leader of the Year Award dinner in New York City.
Case, said Ellen Thrower, executive director of the elite School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science, which bestowed the award on Aon's leader, "belongs in the front ranks of leadership in insurance."
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, in a congratulatory letter, cited Case as an "exceptional leader."
Peers and colleagues weighed in too. Michael O'Halleran, CEO of Aon Re, honored Case's "disciplined approach to leadership."
Stephen Lilienthal, chairman and CEO of CNA Financial Corp., cited Case for being "highly ethical, determined and committed" to shareholders and employees.
Michael S. Pritula, a director at McKinsey & Co. Inc., boasted that Case, who was a partner and head of McKinsey's insurance practice before joining Aon, was "more than a business partner but a friend."
And finally, McKinsey Director Peter Walker, honorary chairman of St. John's School of Risk Management, underscored Case's high aspirations, enthusiasm and energy, and his ability to connect to people and serve as a mentor.
All necessary attributes to run a sprawling insurance broker with 36,000 people in 500 offices peppered around 120 countries, he said, and all of this by the relatively young age of 46.
THE NUMBERS PROVE IT
From the very beginning, as a gawky preteen to a budding high-school football player to a Harvard Business School graduate to a successful McKinsey & Co. associate, Case has been worthy of superlatives. The numbers prove it.
Under Case's leadership, Aon's earnings per share have grown from $1.46 in 2005 to $2.37 in 2007. Aon's market capitalization has almost doubled to $13 billion compared with $7.7 billion in April 2005.
Case is in good company. Previous award winners include Willis Group Holdings Ltd. CEO Joseph Plumeri, Zurich Financial Services CEO James J. Schiro, former AIG Chairman and CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, and former ACE chairman and current Marsh & McLennan President and CEO Brian Duperreault.
Aon is the only company to be honored twice since the award was first issued in 1995. Patrick G. Ryan, Aon's nonexecutive chairman, was honored as the Insurance Leader of the Year in 1997.
For his part, Case said he was "humbled by the great cause" of St. John's nurturing future insurance industry leaders. The world, he said, is going to need leaders skilled in the art of risk management.
"As I reflect on lessons learned from all of you over the past 20 plus years--in my role at Aon and serving many of you as clients in the previous 17 years--it is very clear that the potential impact our industry has and can have on the global economy is greater today than ever before," he said.
January 22, 2009
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