Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Management Strategies

10:45 AM
Connect Directly

Insurance CIOs Deal With the Pressure of Today’s Economic Climate

The top technology post can be stressful at the best of times. Some distinguished insurance CIOs share their personal strategies for dealing with the demands of the job.

Bob Wilkes
SVP & Chief Delivery Officer, AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah

Being mindful of stress and its impact is important. In work, I have extensive travel demands, compounded by the fact that my home and family are completely outside the geographic region of my work.

Maintaining a few very specific routines establishes parameters that keep me at my best. Wherever I am, I'm up at 5 a.m. and on the treadmill. This gets me started, along with fruit and cottage cheese for breakfast. My end-of-day transition is to stop work at 5 p.m. and go home or to the hotel for a shower. Water, like exercise, energizes me. After that I might continue working or get dinner.

As important, I begin my day with reflection, ... focusing on the belief that people want to be positive and do the right thing. I firmly believe each person intends to make a difference; by reminding myself of that, I can operate from a place that engages others as well as me.

Srinivas Koushik
CIO, Nationwide Insurance

I am into yoga -- not the bend-your-knees kind; the breathing kind. I spend about 30 to 40 minutes a day with that, decompressing at either the beginning or end of the day to take out stress.

Surviving Crisis and ChangeInnovating in a Down Market: BCBS of Florida Leverages BrainsharkSurvival Skills: Insurance CIOs Must Adapt to Changing MarketZurich's TOM Intiative Takes Aim at Long-Term Profitable GrowthOhio National's IT Organization Shines in Challenging Business EnvironmentInsurance CIOs Deal With the Pressure of Today's Economic Climate
I'm also spending a lot of time doing things with my family. We've been traveling quite a bit, but we've also started to spend more quality time at home as well. I'm taking shorter but more-frequent vacations, and that helps me to keep in touch with family. A few weeks ago we spent two weeks visiting Egypt, Jordan and the Dead Sea. We're going through some pretty intense times [at Nationwide] because we're going through workforce adjustments and related challenges. It really helped to not be part of that for two weeks.

As an outgrowth of the travel, I have been taking pictures and making photo books. At a recent party I had these displayed as coffee-table books, and everybody absolutely loved them. The good thing is you do pass the hours -- for a 40-page book, I spent a good three or four weeks coming back home and spending maybe an hour or an hour and a half just thinking about how to lay it out. That takes your mind away from the other stuff you're thinking about and gives you a creative outlet. I'm not a big artist, but that really helps.

Mike Anselmo
CIO, Narragansett Bay Insurance Co.

One way I deal with stress is to work harder. I like being busy, and I enjoy pressure. I'm accustomed to that, ... and it's just the way I work.

How are you coping with stress? Share your experiences at the Insurance & Technology LinkedIn Group.
Insurance Technologists & Strategists
Outside of work I relax by spending time with other people. Currently I regularly travel between Rhode Island and New Jersey, and my evenings are spent meeting with people. At those times, I don't have to be the person talking all the time; I don't have to present ideas or impress anybody, and I don't have to talk as much about work -- I can sit back and enjoy listening and having a conversation.

I also enjoy driving sports cars. As intense as the week may be, weekends are about relaxing, doing things like bike riding or driving on the beach, and spending time with my wonderful family.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters