The 2019 Technology Power Brokers

Larry Bowlus
Senior Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

Larry Bowlus, Senior Vice President, Aon

Professional liability insurance veteran Larry Bowlus is a broker his clients have come to rely on. His positive traits are numerous, but they include the fact he is a great listener who is also skilled at communicating with various internal constituents.

“I didn’t have an insurance background coming into the job. It was more thrust upon me,” said one executive in charge of a global risk management program.

“So I really need to rely on our partners and brokers. As long as I am in charge of insurance at this company, nobody else will even get a chance to look at the coverage because I can’t imagine it being close to what [Bowlus and his associates] bring to the table,” he said.


“When I think of Larry in terms of customer service, three things come to mind: highly knowledgeable, very responsive and customer oriented. He is role modelling all three, and if things, for some reason, do not work out, he proactively addresses the issue immediately,” said another risk management professional with a Fortune 500 technology firm.

For global biotech firm Amgen, Bowlus and his team, over the past 12 months, completed a very successful D&O renewal in a hardening life sciences market with a new risk management team in place. Capacity was expanded to include the London market, and coverage was broadened.

For an aluminum manufacturer, Bowlus successfully put together D&O coverage after the first excess insurer bowed out at the last minute, throwing a wrench into the works.

Payal Chahal
Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

Payal Chahal, Vice President, Aon

Autonomous vehicles are intriguing, but placing insurance coverage for the companies that manufacture them is tricky.

Aon’s Payal Chahal was able to shepherd an autonomous vehicle startup through the whole process; no easy task.

For one, there is very little loss history for underwriters to go on. Chahal had numerous meetings with senior management at Travelers to drive home the point that autonomous vehicles are a safer alternative than vehicles driven by humans.

The risk manager for the startup praised Chahal for her responsiveness and her flexibility in negotiating each twist and turn in the underwriting process. As the startup continues to grow, Chahal is working to develop product liability coverage that will address both cyber security and more traditional product liability exposures.

The risk manager for another technology company praised Chahal for her ability to keep pace with her rapidly growing company: “We have been growing really fast and she has been able to keep up with our growth and recommending higher limits, so that has been helpful.”

This risk manager does not give praise easily, and on scales of one to 10, she just does not give out 10s. But the hardworking Chahal did earn a “9” in the area of customer service.

“For me, client service means having a thorough knowledge of the industry and being able to help customers make informed decisions,” Chahal wrote in her Power Broker® application.

Lauren Cisco, ARM
Senior Vice President
Marsh, San Francisco

Lauren Cisco, Senior Vice President, Marsh

Marsh’s Lauren Cisco gets top grades from top-flight organizations: The University of California, Dell Technologies and Symantec Corp.

“I’m not looking for someone to place my insurance, I’m looking for an expert,” said Julie Young, director, business risk management and insurance for Dell Technologies.

“I need to be educated enough to understand my coverage and how it will respond … there’s so much going on in that space [in this case, cyber coverage].

“It’s typical for tech companies to have small risk management departments,” she added. “We’re a two-person department; we really do rely on our partners to be an extension of our department,” she said.

For Dell, Cisco was a partner and then some. Dell is a complex organization with a complex cyber and errors and omissions insurance program.

In 2018, the company needed to evolve coverage to match expanded risk, deviations in market appetite and cost increases in the large technology sector.

Cisco and her colleagues were able to patch a program that saw tens of millions in capacity that needed to be replaced. Her work resulted in expanded cover throughout the program, maintaining all but three incumbent insurers and forging relationships with four new carriers.

“I don’t like to waste time,” Young continued. “Lauren came on and was very personable, she knows the markets and she managed the timeline expertly. I thought I was organized, but she takes it to the next level.”

Frannie Epps
Senior Vice President
Marsh, Chicago

Frannie Epps, Senior Vice President, Marsh

Frannie Epps and her teammates at Marsh pride themselves on how well they communicate the risk profiles of their clients to the market. She describes her team’s mantra as, “We know this client, we know this space, you know us.” Pretty effective if you can pull it off, and according to Epps’ clients, she can.

“What she really did was take her [experience] and really be a team member for me, helped me figure out what to do and keep in place,” said one client. “She stepped in and helped me figure out what we needed to do and we did it. When I looked back, I think I ended up with a better risk management team than we had a year ago,” he said.

Epps brokers for a highly acquisitive telecom giant that goes through a lot of changes.


The challenge for Epps in the past year was managing a very large acquisition that brought significant exposures into her client’s existing casualty program.

Epps tapped Marsh’s CMT (communications media and technology) resources to give her the data she needed to pull off something great; incorporating this very large acquisition into the client’s entire umbrella/excess tower at the same attachment points for a ‘nominal’ 12 percent premium increase. She cut her client’s overall umbrella/excess costs by 80 percent.

“She is one of the most responsive representatives I have ever worked with,” said another admiring client.

Karen Sullivan, CPCU
Senior Vice President
Aon, San Francisco

Karen Sullivan, Senior Vice President, Aon

According to her clients, Aon’s Karen Sullivan is as dedicated as they come, seamlessly becoming a part of the risk management teams of the companies she services.

“Karen goes above and beyond what your average property broker would do,” said one admiring risk management director, who is employed by a Fortune 500 global technology company.

This risk manager said Sullivan partners with her to take deep dives into the business interruption exposures of several of her business units. The forensics involved are extremely time consuming.

Sullivan provided the same exhaustive service to another client who was struggling with identifying and quantifying business continuity loss estimates.


It’s not only in business interruption and business continuity exposures where Sullivan proves her mettle. One of her clients possessed substantial supply chain dependencies but had never quantified the risk. Some of the locations involved were exposed to critical natural disaster risk.

Sullivan was able to corral Aon’s data strength and consult with her firm’s supply chain experts. The result: She and her team were able to calculate maximum foreseeable loss exposures for each of the key supplier locations. Then she went to work developing the client’s story for the markets.

What did she end up with? How about the provision of the full limits asked for, halving of the deductible and a cost savings on the whole deal.

Cristina Varner
Senior Vice President
ABD Insurance and Financial Services, San Mateo, Calif.

Cristina Varner, Senior Vice President, ABD Insurance and Financial Services

Cristina Varner’s dedication to her clients and her knowledge of their business is so deep that clients trust her to expertly tell their story to underwriters.
“Cristina can speak on my behalf all day, every day,” said a risk manager for a company in the pharmaceutical business.

This particular client’s relationship with its distribution and marketing partners is very complex. The structure demands the risk manager and the broker spend a lot of time on the phone with underwriters.

“Trying to explain our contractual obligations and the types of Fortune 100 partners we have can get very complicated to an insurer,” said the risk manager.

“They get knee deep into understanding the business that we do, where we are exposed and understanding the difference between the inherent risk in a pharmaceutical product versus the risk that can be controlled,” the risk manager said.

Another client said she has worked with Varner for five years with two different companies and has come to depend on her.

“In our annual review process, she goes the extra mile in trying to make sure we have the best options available as well as giving us really sound advice in terms of the pros and cons of each option,” this risk manager said.

For yet another pharma company, Varner went to bat with the London markets and right-sized a program with much better terms and conditions: a big win for her and the client.

The complete list of 2019 Power Broker® winners can be found here.


Owen Oakley
Senior Vice President
Marsh, San Francisco

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.


Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.

R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.


We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?


Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.


Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now and where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.


More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

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