CEO Mike Pesch of Gallagher USA Talks About the Roots of the Gallagher Family Tree

Mike Pesch, CEO of Gallagher USA, started at the company as a college intern in 1991 and never looked back.
By: | November 5, 2019
Topics: Brokerage | Profiles

More than any other brokerage, perhaps, employees with the sizable property/casualty brokerage Gallagher talk about the company’s unique culture.

It would be folly for a person outside of that culture, say a trade magazine journalist, to pretend to know exactly what that culture is, having never experienced it firsthand. Suffice to say, members of the Gallagher team mention it often enough to convince one that they are not merely parroting some company line.


Mike Pesch, the USA CEO of Gallagher Brokerage Services, got his start at Gallagher as a college intern in 1991. He came into the business full time as a Chicago-area producer in 1993.

Pesch uses that “culture” word to describe an aspect that attracted him to the company.

“I wanted to align myself with Gallagher’s culture, and it was very important to me as a young producer to be part of a flat organization with accessibility to leadership,” Pesch said.

Pesch said he benefited from having a female colleague who taught him the importance of learning a business inside and out, and how to communicate with clients about risk management.

“As a more veteran producer, I adopted sales and communication styles from a variety of different people as well,” Pesch said.

“What you don’t always hear is that when disaster strikes, insurance carriers and brokers are the first ones to respond. You don’t always hear about how we help our clients get back on their feet or how we help them keep their business growing.”— Mike Pesch, CEO, Gallagher USA

Not the least of Pesch’s influence was Bob Gallagher, the company’s former chairman, who passed away in 2006. A Cornell graduate, it was Bob Gallagher who took pen to paper and wrote down the 25 foundational values that have become known as “The Gallagher Way.”

“He was a mentor to a lot of people because of his natural ability to balance the Gallagher culture with professionalism and accountability to drive results,” Pesch said.

“Every leader looks into the family tree of those who came after them, and how they’ve sprouted into outstanding producers or leaders.

“When I look at my own Gallagher family tree, I am really proud of the strong, dynamic people who have made it easy for me to bring them into the organization, mentor and coach,” he said.

Building and Producing a Business

These days, Pesch is CEO of Gallagher’s retail property casualty operation in the U.S. and oversees a business with 5,000 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

“I work with a great team of leaders to build and grow the business in one of the most dynamic and changing insurance environments in he world, to stay on the cutting edge of client’s needs and build a culture that affords other people opportunities to build their careers,” Pesch said.

Career building is one thing. Producing revenue another.

Pesch seeks to accomplish both for himself and others.

He also treasures the entrepreneurial side of insurance brokering.

“There is an inherent level of entrepreneurship on the brokerage and the carrier side of insurance,” Pesch said.

“As a young producer, I felt that my book of business was a small business that operated within a larger organization. I still tell my producers that this is their business, that they should have ownership over their relationship with their clients and that we are helping to build, cultivate, maintain and service their business,” Pesch added.

Helping Insurance Thrive

Pesch has heard it and we’ve all heard it.

Insurance is tight-fisted. It doesn’t pay claims.

“What you don’t always hear is that when disaster strikes, insurance carriers and brokers are the first ones to respond. You don’t always hear about how we help our clients get back on their feet, or how we help them keep their business growing,” he said.

Having said that, Pesch knows, and we all know, that there is room for improvement.


Digitizing the customer experience, making it easier for customers to submit and get paid on claims, is easier said than done.  Legacy systems and cultural gridlock are two obstacles that stand in the way.

“Because of the variances in risk and in commercial insurance, digitizing the experience is different and more complex for each of our customers. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t endeavor to solve that equation so that we can collectively make better decisions,” Pesch said.

Speaking of family trees, Pesch is, like all of us, a stem in a biological family, not just a corporate one.

“I have one child in college and one in high school, and I tell them all the time to follow their passion,” Pesch said.

“Risk management touches every industry, and that makes it a great opportunity to get intimately involved in your passion, earn a great living and have a great lifestyle,” Pesch said.

“Why not wake up and be motivated by what you do? Find your passion and use insurance as a vehicle to enjoy it every day. You’ll be very happy in your career and proud of what you do.” &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]