For This COO, Insurance Is All About People
Ed Page came to his job as chief operating officer of Relation Insurance because he was looking for a job where the “who” mattered more than the “what.”
“When I was approached by Parthenon to work with Relation, I actually had another offer on the table,” he said. “[But] when I first met Joe Tatum, Relation’s CEO, I could tell he was a great human being … and that he was a ‘who’ I would really enjoy working with.”
Page and Tatum proved to be a great team. In six years, they took Relation from being a $70 million company to a $100 million company.
Along the way, Page learned that the core of the insurance industry is based on helping people, something he has been passionate about for a long time.
“The insurance industry has gotten a bad rap for too long. Think of how insurance salesmen are perceived in movies and television — often dry, overly needy or too aggressive,” he said. “The other part, which I didn’t realize, is how important insurance can be to people’s lives and livelihood.
“Good insurance solutions can keep a business from closing their doors or a family from losing their home. Poor insurance solutions can lead to disaster. We literally help keep our clients safer, healthier and protect their most valuable assets.”
Page’s passion for people began with his parents, who taught him that “being a good person is one of the keys to success in all aspects of life — both business and personal.”
“My dad is a special guy, incredibly smart and super-disciplined, and he set a shining example for me to try to live up to. My mom is the nicest person on the planet and full of positive energy,” he said. “I’ve tried to learn to balance my directness with more of her personality’s niceness.”
As COO, Page is able to bring both his mother’s positive energy and his father’s brainpower to the table to help workers at Relation connect with one another and their clients.
He’s responsible for leading the company’s collaborative efforts, managing acquisitions and overseeing the company’s strategic planning and operational functions. His work connects with every department from IT and human resources to marketing and communications. One of his biggest goals for him has been to create a compassionate company culture that puts people first.
“We’ve built a culture at Relation that enables everyone to focus on accomplishing great things, pursue our passions, laugh along the way and help each other to be and do more than we ever imagined,” he said.
“Culture is at the core of everything we do, and ensuring every employee feels part of our success ensures our employees are not only positive ambassadors for our company but the industry as a whole.”
This people-oriented culture extends to the work Relation does with its clients, where it strives to find “effective solutions [that] are personalized to every client’s unique needs,” according to Page.
Any Risk, Every Time
“We are helping protect businesses and individuals against risks that could, in many cases, significantly impact or end a business,” he said.
“Whether it’s cyber insurance to ward off ransomware attacks, modified flood insurance programs to protect against the growing number of storms and floods hitting the country, shaping new products that can guard against sexual harassment risks, or even insuring drones as they become more prevalent for businesses — today’s risk environment is increasingly complicated across every industry.”
The industry’s integration of new technology, its need to address ever-evolving risks and its focus on people are just some of the reasons Page believes his six years with Relation have brought him “some of the most challenging, as well as the most exciting work” in his over 20-year career.
All of these factors have also caused him to envy young workers entering the industry.
“Someone in their 20s or 30s entering the industry with drive, energy, technology focus and creative ambition … can have an absolute field day,” he said. “If you’re a self-starter, willing to roll up your sleeves and dive in headfirst, make mistakes and learn quickly, you will be the one who succeeds.”
He also believes that the industry’s current focus on innovation and its ability to have a real impact on people’s lives make it a perfect career choice for younger generations.
“The Millennial and Gen Z generations are looking for more than just a paycheck. They are looking for careers where they can be part of something,” he said.
“The insurance industry is on the verge of transformation. Technology is still not nearly as pervasive as it should or will be, and there are tons of places to innovate. That, combined with the fact that so much of the current workforce is aging means there is tremendous opportunity for anyone hungry to innovate, grow and build success.”
The profession’s stability is just another perk benefiting young workers who grew up during the 2008 financial crisis and who have had trouble finding stable employment.
“Over the long-term, [insurance is] always growing, showing solid profit margins, low capital needs and recurring revenue with high retention rates. There is a reason why Warren Buffett has so much of his portfolio in the insurance sector,” he said.
In the end, Page encourages young people to always consider the “who” first and foremost when they’re beginning their careers.
“If you gel with the company during interviews and feel inspired and connected with the company culture, it can go a long way toward finding meaning in your day-to-day life,” he said.
The lessons from his career are clear: If you prioritize people, and not stereotypes about what you perceive a career to be, a job you once thought of as stodgy or boring is really the most fulfilling opportunity of your life. &