Among the different career phases that Teresa Chia credits with having helped to advance her down the CFO path, there is little question that Phase 2 was the most formative. Still, how she came to enter this phase had little to do with career ambitions—or at least her own career ambitions.
The second phase of Chia’s career was triggered by a personal event: her husband received an offer to join the falculty at Dartmouth College. This led them to relocate from New York City, where Chia had been working in investment banking, to Hanover, New Hampshire, where she would ultimately join a publicly traded holding company known as White Mountains Insurance Group.
This was her first foray into the public company sphere as well as the insurance industry, and it was here, Chia tells us, that she found her passion for a sector whose vastness and complexity are matched only by its impact on everyday life. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
- The Three Phases of Teresa Chia’s Career: Teresa Chia’s journey to becoming a CFO is divided into three distinct phases. The first saw her honing her skills in investment banking and private equity at Credit Suisse in NYC. The second found her in the insurance industry, where she discovered her passion for the field and learned about its complexity and regulatory aspects. The most recent phase has seen her also serving on the boards of various companies, a testament to her industry connections and expertise.
- The Shift in Focus: After two decades of focusing on strategy and capital deployment, Chia felt a shift in her interests. She wanted to be more involved in the execution of growth plans and building the infrastructure for such growth. This led her to the role of a CFO, where she could leverage her finance knowledge while also contributing to strategic execution.
CFOTL: Tell us about Vertafore … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Chia: In the insurance industry, you always have a person or company that understands the value of insurance and wants to mitigate some significant risk. Hey, if a fire took down my entire house, I couldn’t absorb the cost all by myself. I need some help in mitigating this potentially very severe, albeit unlikely, risk, and I want to pool this risk with the risks of other people.
CFO Teresa Chia’s Career Journey to Vertafore
Or, let’s say that I’m a company that has 17 different hotels. I need to mitigate the risk that a hurricane comes through and damages or wipes out a significant portion of them. There’s always somebody who wants to take these risks that they have and ultimately spread them out. They’re willing to pay something in order to reduce the potential cost of these very severe events. Meanwhile, you also have all of these insurance businesses around the world that cut up these risks and share them among themselves in a very complex manner. In between these risk-assuming companies and the ordinary person on the street who’s thinking “I know what I want, but I don’t know anything about this industry,” are humans who help to link the two together.Read More
These are the everyday independent insurance agents with whom we work, and they are in every single city in America. There are also what are called “managing general agents,” who focus on more complex, larger, commercial, specialized risks. And there’s everybody in between. These agents and brokers, we call the “distribution channel.” For 50 years, Vertafore has been servicing everybody who sits between the insured and the carrier. We enable these people to focus on linking those who want to spread the risk and those who can absorb it, connecting them as efficiently as possible to make sure that at the end of the day, those who have the risk don’t experience something that’s catastrophic. What Vertafore does is to provide mission-critical software to ensure that these agents and brokers across this entire value chain can work very efficiently and focus on what matters most, serving their clients. Our software basically allows them—throughout their day—to very effectively provide information, analyze data, and get the insured covered for their risk.
“To be a strategic CFO means being a team player and a data-driven partner in all areas of the business. Value and understand each relationship to effectively lead your team through any opportunity or challenge.” –Teresa Chia, CFO, Vertafore
Vertafore | www.vertafore.com | Denver, CO