Ivy Exec: In which area of your company do you expect the most growth during 2012?
Lynley Williams: Our goal is to be consumers’ number one choice for car insurance. To do that, we will continue to grow our business by creating products that provide our customers with innovative ways to save money and giving them more control over their car insurance costs. Progressive is committed and focused on making auto insurance easier for consumers. Whether we’re assisting consumers in the quoting and buying stage or we’re handling claims — our goal is to continue to make auto insurance easier for consumers.
Ivy: What changes and challenges do you think your company and industry will see in the next 5 years?
Lynley: We will continue to evolve and change to deliver low prices and great service. With the rapid adoption of smart phones, tablets and the deployment of high-speed mobile networks, the mobile world represents one of the largest opportunities today. We’re always interested in providing our customers with innovative ways to save money and giving them more control over their car insurance costs. Progressive is actively working to develop new ways to give consumers more ways to buy and manage their car insurance policies and driving habits through their mobile phones.
Ivy: What attracted you to Progressive?
Lynley: I was a policyholder long before I started working at Progressive. As a policyholder, I was impressed that I could obtain comparison rates online and really glad I could buy a policy at any time of the day or night. I also figured any company that stepped ahead of the competition and became the first major auto insurer to launch a website had to be pretty forward-thinking and broad-minded – all qualities that were important to me as I was making my next career move.
Ivy: What three words best describe your culture?
Lynley: A) Respect – Our people are celebrated for who they are, the ideas they bring and the energy they invest. People’s differences are welcomed at Progressive.
B) Excellence – We strive constantly to improve in order to meet and exceed the highest expectations of our customers, agents, shareholders and people.
C) Integrity – We revere honesty. We adhere to high ethical standards, provide timely, accurate and complete financial reporting, encourage disclosing bad news and welcome disagreement.
Ivy: What are the two best perks that employees get at your company?
Lynley: A) Flexible Work Arrangements are one of the ways in which we can respect, support and leverage each person’s individuality. A flexible work arrangement is any arrangement that redefines when, where or how work gets done, and is a collaborative process between a Progressive person and his/her manager. By offering flexible work arrangements to provide Progressive people with better work-life balance and job satisfaction, we make it easier to grow the strength and success of our business.
B) The Progressive Insurance Foundation matches funds to eligible charitable organizations to which Progressive employees contribute. Each year, the Foundation matches millions of dollars in contributions from Progressive employees to thousands of organizations around the country.
Ivy: What gets you excited about going to work each day?
Lynley: The motivating work environment that continues to change with the times. For some, working nine to five at the office gives them the structure and environment they need to be productive. For others, like me, an alternative workplace is actually more productive and very conducive to my personal daily life. Progressive offers Flexible Work Arrangements to better accommodate employee lifestyles and personal commitments – and after almost 10 years with the company, I still get excited about going to work each day, whether I am headed to the airport for business travel or up my stairs to my home office.
Ivy: Which leadership qualities best insure success at your company?
Lynley: Progressive hires and cultivates leaders who can assess the business, plan the business, create a high performance climate to get the work done and manage people’s performance to the next level. Our leadership qualities have served us well over the last 75 years and allow our 25,000 Progressive people working in more than 450 offices throughout the country to truly enjoy a unique work environment that encourages them to risk, learn, grow and perform.
Ivy: What is the biggest misconception that you encounter about your industry?
Lynley: Most people think car insurance and think “boring”; however, Progressive is anything but boring when it comes to going out on a limb and introducing the insurance world to many innovations! We were the first major U.S. car insurer to release an Android app just for car insurance, and the first auto insurance company to offer Pet Injury coverage. With Progressive’s Pet Injury coverage, your vet bills are covered up to $1,000 if your dog or cat is hurt in an accident. We also offer Gainsharing. It allows all regular Progressive employees to receive a target percentage of their salary as a bonus that’s based on how Progressive performs throughout the year. We believe in an even playing field, which is why every regular employee is automatically a participant in the Gainsharing program. And of course, we were the first (and only) company to introduce Flo, our perky insurance clerk! We introduced her in 2008 and four years later, she is a recognizable character in advertising. How’s that for not “boring”?