Financier Worldwide recently profiled Mary Henderson, President, Argo Pro. Mary discussed her leadership approach, her career in insurance and tips for success in the insurance industry.
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Q&A with Mary
What do you consider to be your career achievements?
While I started my career as an underwriter in financial institutions, I moved to a brokerage firm where I was brokering smaller middle market businesses that included all types of private companies and all classes of professional lines. When I returned to the underwriting side of the business to work at Travelers, I worked to broaden my knowledge of the business even further by moving from a managing director in financial institutions to the regional vice president of the New York region, overseeing all professional lines for the region. This opportunity helped to broaden my knowledge of products, but also helped me build relationships within the various distribution channels in all the businesses. When I joined Argo, I was tasked with building the financial institutions book of business and was able to grow the book from $29m in premium to over $100m in less than five years. Now, as president of Argo Pro, I oversee more than $400m in professional lines premium with products in public and private commercial, financial institutions, lawyers, miscellaneous, architects and engineers, and accountants.
In what ways do you endeavor to support the career development of your colleagues rising through the ranks?
Some of the most important initiatives in my career have been collaborating with colleagues to identify and achieve their goals. I encourage colleagues to challenge themselves and break out of their comfort zones in everything they do. Through honest and effective communication, I push team members to reach their potential, even in areas they may not feel comfortable. If a recent graduate has a fear of public speaking, I will provide them ample opportunities to present and develop these skills. I have seen numerous early-career professionals grow to become managers. I define my leadership style as a “learner,” always absorbing new perspectives and challenging others to grow alongside me. Insurance is a relationship industry, and by building strong, confident professionals, I am helping contribute to Argo’s overall success.
What strengths and characteristics do you, your team and your firm strive to demonstrate to clients?
I always encourage my team to be nimble and look for areas where we can tailor our expertise to fit client needs. When faced with challenges, I collaborate with my underwriters to deliver smart, impactful solutions, which, in turn, helps expand our well-rounded client portfolio as brokers reward us with higher-quality businesses. My team and I have helped position Argo as a desirable partner, using honest, effective communication to drive long-term client relationships. I meet with clients in-person as much as possible to establish genuine rapport and transparency. I instill this philosophy in my underwriters to ensure they carry on the same values to deliver long-term success for their clients. Clients, in turn, have recognized the powerful dynamic between my underwriters and I. Clients often compliment this collaborative process, saying it makes them want to work with a company like Argo.
Mary’s Representative Engagements
Member of the executive board of the Northeast Chapter of the Insurance Institute Charitable Foundation. I am responsible for reviewing different charities, and we determine eligible charities to give grants to. I am on the dinner committee, responsible for raising donations for our annual fundraising dinner. In 2021, we raised $1.2m, which is the highest amount to date.
During my 14 years at Travelers Insurance, I led the bank team, asset management team and finally the region as regional vice president overseeing public and private D&O companies and their supporting lines, financial institutions and E&O lines. By collaborating with all regional leaders in the company across all insurance lines, I could find new ways to capitalize on cross-sell opportunities.
By modeling industry and interpersonal best practices across business units, I have encouraged a diverse workforce to build a nationally renowned insurance team.
Mary Henderson is president of Argo Pro, overseeing the entirety of the division, including over $400m in premium throughout various business lines. She is tasked with developing intricate strategies and creating smart, impactful solutions to help grow the business and generate success for the company.