The security and peace of mind associated with having insurance may suggest that working in the industry is similarly sedate. For J. Paul Condrin ’83, nothing could be further from the truth.
The president of commercial markets at Liberty Mutual moves a mile-a-minute, overseeing the company’s entire commercial operation. At any given moment, his focus could be anywhere from strategy and marketing to revenue growth and profitability.
“No two days are alike,” he says with obvious relish. “There is constant pressure to improve and grow our business.”
Condrin has been with Liberty Mutual for more than 20 years, but he still feels like the new kid on the block in terms of tenure. Some colleagues spend their whole career with the company.
“You’re not pigeonholed,” he says. “We move people around a lot, into disciplines they might never have dreamed of being in.”
Condrin himself is no stranger to seizing opportunity. Early dreams of earning a degree in accountancy led him to follow in his uncle’s footsteps to Bentley. He credits the school for providing the valuable foundation he needed to be successful in public accounting.
“The really interesting part of my experience was the quality of the professors,” he remembers. “They were top notch — demanding, but also very engaging.”
After graduation, Condrin began an auditor position in the Boston office of KPMG Peat Marwick, then proceeded to work his way up to senior manager. He moved to Liberty Mutual in 1989, with an initial focus on accounting but ever-alert to other possibilities. By 1997, Condrin was chief financial officer – a role that offered a great overview and understanding of the business. The view got even wider with his next move, in 2003, to president of personal markets.
“I went from managing a 400-person organization of finance people and having a 30,000-foot understanding of the business to managing a business with full operation – distribution, pricing, underwriting of claims, marketing – and 11,000 employees,” he says. “That’s a big shift in scope.”
Condrin’s latest position – president of commercial markets – came with challenges right from the start. One was to navigate the business through an economic slump. He also had to help Liberty Mutual adapt to a major change in its product distribution method, which now uses independent agents and brokers rather than an in-house sales force.
He compares the transition to “flying in a prop plane and having to convert to a jet without landing, because you’re still trying to keep the flow of activity moving while making the switch.”
Now a year into the role, Condrin aims to solidify the business, assess strengths, and identify areas for improvement. “We’re gathering momentum,” he says. “Each month is better than the prior one.”
True to His Roots
A robust, multifaceted partnership between his alma mater and Liberty Mutual has given Condrin plenty of alumni colleagues.
“We rely on Bentley a lot for our new hires,” he says of recruiting efforts that have brought 144 alumni to Liberty over the past nine years.
Even while speeding toward tomorrow, Condrin never forgets where he came from. He stays involved with Bentley as a leadership donor and as a member of the Business Advisory Council, which provides input on the university’s graduate programs, among other duties.
“Learning from others at Bentley and elsewhere has been a big part of my successes,” he says, touting teamwork as essential to running a business. “Everyone has to be aligned in terms of common goals, from the person answering phones on the front line to the upper reaches of management. No one individual is going to make a business a success.”