“We want good people, we want to hire good people, and we want to retain them—but my real focus is in building a team.” – Robert A. DiMuccio
In the following interview, Robert A. DiMuccio, CEO of Amica Mutual Insurance Company, talks trust, humility and the necessity for ‘speed bumps’, among other things.
What do your employees mean to you? What do they mean to this organization?
We sell what I would term ‘intangible product’: security and financial protection for our customers. Our business is based on our customers’ interactions with our employees: How professional they are, how empathetic they are, how much time they put in with the customer. Our employees are the organization; they are what the company is all about.
As you look at the characteristics of the most successful people across your organization, is there a common pattern among those individuals?
I think we have successful people from all different academic disciplines and backgrounds. Their success is not necessarily based on, for example, what sport they played and how good they were at them, nor what they achieved academically. All those things are important but are just pieces of the puzzle. It really comes down to the person. Can that person make a connection with other people, and is that connection real? I don’t think you can fake empathy. People will figure it out very quickly.
What’s the best hire that you’ve ever personally made and why?
An organization is built around a team. A good team is not built around one person. I have this list in the back of my mind – the things I look for in people – and it varies depending on the position, the duties and that sort of thing. If you’re looking for 10 attributes, you might get lucky and find six or seven, because we’re all human beings. But in a team, you’re going to get all 10 attributes. We want good people, we want to hire good people, and we want to retain them—but my real focus is in building a team. I think that all of our greatest successes came out of team efforts.
What do you look for when you’re hiring talent?
Obviously, for a particular job there are requirements and you want to make sure that who you hire has the core requirements for that job. But beyond that, you look for a positive perspective. People who enjoy being around other people, who want to work with people. That’s number one.
What is your leadership philosophy? What are the main tenets of what you believe in terms of leadership?
Number one: Treat everybody with respect across the organization. Number two: Find the right people, let them do their jobs and trust them to do their jobs. I think if you find the right people with the right with the right skills and attributes, they’ll come into work charged up every day. They’ll be self-motivated.
I’ve seen this written a hundred times, so I can’t take any credit for it: There are certain attributes a leader should display and one of them is humility. To realize that there are people around that probably know more of the answers than you do. It is also important to celebrate their successes and be public about it.
During 2009 and 2010 years, a lot of companies had tough times, tough decisions to make. Did you as well? What did you learn during that time frame?
You always try to look back after an incident or period of time where you’ve had to deal with something and say, “What did we do well and what could we have done better?” A couple of things that we looked at: In the period leading up to the recession, we managed our company with the same basic principles we had managed for the previous 20 years: Number one, solid customer relationships. Through the recession, we held our customer base very well. The customer base provides revenue and pays for your overhead, and in return we provide service to them. Number two, we’re an insurance company. We’re designed to take risk; however, through years and years of experience, we’ve also learned to manage risk and cap risk where we think it’s appropriate.
What do you consider the most important decision that you’ve ever had to make as a leader?
One of the things I’ve always believed is when you’re in a position to alter the course of somebody’s career or even life – those are the decisions you should put the most time into. If you’re in a position where you can impact somebody’s life, the decision should be hard to make. There should be speed bumps. There should be a process for getting input from a lot of different people, and there should be a feedback process. Those are the hard decisions, and I always spend a lot of time on them. Your really important decisions are the decisions about people.
ABOUT ROBERT D. DIMUCCIO: Robert A. DiMuccio, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Amica Mutual Insurance Company, graduated from Providence College in 1979 with an accounting degree and began his career with the accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwic. DiMuccio joined Amica in 1991 as an accounting department vice president, and, over the years, has served as senior vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. He was named executive vice president in 2003, and president and chief executive officer in 2005. In 2008 he was elected company chairman. In addition to his work at Amica, DiMuccio serves on the boards of the Property Loss Research Bureau and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and as president of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
ABOUT AMICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY: Amica Mutual Insurance Company, the nation’s oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, was founded in 1907. The company, with corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI, is a national writer of automobile, homeowners, marine and personal umbrella liability insurance. Life coverage is available through Amica Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. Amica employs more than 3,100 people at Amica Center in Rhode Island and 39 offices countrywide. Amica has been acknowledged by financial services industry analysts for its superior financial strength, and it has been recognized repeatedly for exceptional customer service in auto and homeowners insurance surveys by a leading consumer publication.