I interviewed Neale, the chief claims officer for Liberty Mutual's commercial operation, in his office in Boston in early January. A steely chill embraced Boston's Back Bay, with that morning's harbor winds biting at the ears and noses of pedestrians.
But in Neale's office, the conversation turned to warm times and warm human beings.
A natural and accomplished musician, Neale talked about his experiences as a trumpet player as a younger man.
During his college days, Neale was first chair trumpet with the Duke Jazz Ensemble. It was then that he had the opportunity to meet and play with one of the greatest jazz names of all time, Dizzy Gillespie.
Although Dizzy liked to kid with the audience and played with a horn that was bent at an odd angle, make no mistake, Dizzy the player was no clown. His leads were exacting and blistering, and he embodied serious performance wrapped in a cloak of friendliness and good humor.
We find that same ease mixed with seriousness in Neale. Despite the massive size of his group of more than 5,000 employees, those who work with him describe him as cool under pressure, quick to admit fault on his own or that of his organization, and quick to make amends and find a solution.
"George is the most effective executive I deal with in this industry," Charlie Martin, the casualty consulting leader for Marsh, told me.
We hope you all find something to learn from in the manner of Neale, whom we salute in this issue as we close the first quarter of 2013.
--By Dan Reynolds, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
March 1, 2013
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