Both former Celent Communications alumni, they're now the top dogs, operating within the bosom of the larger New York-based consulting firm Novantas. It began last fall, when Josefowicz jumped ship for the promise of Novantas.
The move turned out to be prescient, as Oliver Wyman in February announced the purchase of Celent. Then, in January, Novantas announced Josefowicz was heading up Novarica, a specialty unit within the 100-person consultancy. Then Hersh joined Novarica in early April.
"My reason for launching this in January was very much around valuing working at an independent, more midsize, or even boutique, kind of environment, and that was one of the things that made me so happy at Celent," said Josefowicz.
If he was happy at Celent, why leave? And does the market really need another insurance-technology advisory firm, what with New York-based Celent; Needham, Mass.-based Tower Group; and the almighty Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. with its 4,000 associates and 75 offices around the world already out there
It's a question, in part, of the business model, according to Josefowicz. Current models employed by the larger firms have their flaws. While those models may serve the consulting firms, it's not necessarily the best answer for clients.
"We've tweaked the model a little bit to get away from the heavy focus on subscription research sold by a commissioned sales force, and we're focusing much more on the retained advisory aspect of it," he said.
The big boys of the research and consulting trade, you see, prefer what Josefowicz called a "consistent product offering," as it fits more tightly across the research behemoths' industry practices. Yet that may not always be the best way to serve any one individual industry, he said.
Tailoring research and providing individualized service remains paramount--and the kind of approach that small firms are best at--and that's what he was doing at Celent. Then Oliver Wyman stepped in, and suddenly the stage got a lot bigger, and perhaps the egos too.
Did Josefowicz know Celent was going to be sold to Oliver Wyman? Leaving for Novantas three months before the sale, it sure looks that way. But so what?
For Josefowicz, a 1994 Ivy League graduate and avid fencer, the show had to go on, and for those who know Josefowicz, few are surprised that he bowed out of the bigger stage in favor of running his own and ceding his starring role to Craig Weber, managing director of Celent.
Immensely well-respected, Josefowicz is a staple of the insurance and technology tradeshow circuit. Attendees hang on his every word--OK, maybe every other word, or every third word, or every last word. At trade shows, the bespectacled analyst is always easy to spot in the sea of grey suits and starched shirts: he's the one that looks like the liberal arts college professor, leather satchel slung across the left shoulder.
But make no mistake, Josefowicz is as tech-savvy as the software geeks writing code for AMS, Stratacare, Valley Oak or FirstBest Systems, floating very much along the leading edge of technology and insurance, and at ease straddling the industry's multiple lines.
Hit Google and the search on his name will turn up the hits by the hundreds. His LinkedIn profile has him listing more than 500 contacts. Yep, he's right up there with the hedge-fund managers and other Masters of the Universe when it comes to whom he knows, and those who know those he knows.
There's always a seat for him at the insurance-technology table, whether it's policy administration, bill review, workers' comp or even the slog that document management can sometimes become. He's confidant, oh yes, and the confidant of the insurance technology titans. He has their ear, and a share of their wallets, too, when times are good and the tech titans are in a spending mood.
Hersh, a 1995 graduate of Rice University, likes the heavy slogging, getting his hands dirty in the minutiae of policy administration reports. Were he in Washington, he'd be the policy wonk burning the midnight oil for a subcommittee chairman, even one in the minority.
After all, what to make of a man with a mind who derives pleasure from writing weighty tomes with the following titles, "Grid Computing: A Guide for Financial Services Firms"; "Policy Administration Systems Overview: 2005"; or even the refreshingly titled "The 18-Month Rule: Avoiding the Endless Project"?
Hersh has no intention of standing still, no sir, not when you're an authority on endless projects ... and how to avoid them.
So what can we expect from the former consultant at Ernst & Young, the former consultant at CSC, the former consultant at Align Solutions, the former consultant at Luminant, the former electronic business director at AIG, the former senior analyst at Celent, and now, finally, an insurance principal at Novarica?
"Policy administration is still a huge area of interest in insurance, and we'll certainly be covering that with the level of depth that I think has come to be expected," Hersh said. He intends to revisit many of the former topics he's written about in the past as the market, even in the insurance space, has changed.
Insurance technology enthusiasts, thankfully, can look forward to more of his insights and analysis, and to spot him strolling the aisles of operations research and insurance accounting systems tradeshows, buttoned-down, clean-cut and articulate as always. Look for Hersh to star on his clients' lecture circuit as well.
Hersh and Josefowicz, according to Josefowicz, intend to anchor a long-term alliance at Novarica now that they are in control of their own shop. There's no exit strategy, they insisted.
"We're building an enterprise for long-term client service as opposed to taking venture money and building up a big staff where there's going to be obviously some pressure for an exit," said Josefowicz.
Which is usually the way new ventures begin their journeys: small, nimble and committed to customer service. Will it stay that way? So long as Novarica is allowed to operate independently. But one thing's for sure: These leaders intend to grow the company, and even Josefowicz, hinting at things to come, will admit it: "We're not going to stay tiny."
And as the company grows, will it stay as independent and committed to service as its founders hope? The answer will emerge in Act Two.
CYRIL TUOHY is managing editor of Risk & Insurance®.
(Read the rest of the People on the Move newsletter from April 23.)
April 23, 2008
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