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Business associates, peers, friends and family say they always know where they stand with Judy Lindenmayer, who often is trying to move them off that spot to a better place.
But, Ms. Lindenmayer's generosity was equally extolled during an often lighthearted and sometimes emotional tribute to her when she accepted the 1997 Business Insurance Risk Manager of the Year Award.
Ms. Lindenmayer, vp-Fidelity insurance and risk management at Boston-based FMR Corp., better known as Fidelity Investments, has been awarded the honor for her work in, among other things, overhauling Fidelity's risk financing program to significantly broaden coverage while also dramatically cutting costs.
She was presented with the 20th annual award, signified by a crystal obelisk, by Business Insurance Publisher/Editorial Director Kathryn J. McIntyre, Editor Paul D. Winston and Senior Editor Dave Lenckus during a luncheon in Boston last month.
After a stirring standing ovation when she accepted the award, Ms. Lindenmayer turned to her son and assured him she would not become emotionally overwhelmed.
Apologizing if she seemed "presumptuous," Ms. Lindenmayer told the gathering that she considered the honor her academy award. Wanting to look her best for the occasion, she did not prepare a speech so she would not have to wear reading glasses, she said.
Ms. Lindenmayer's supporting cast of seven staff members led her list of acknowledgements.
"Every year, you hear, 'I couldn't do it without my staff.' And, they would tell you I couldn't. They're right."
She then thanked her family, whom she likened to a "key grip"-the chief behind-the-scenes assistant on a movie set.
She again looked over toward her son to reassure him that she would spare him an emotional scene. "Don't worry, Mike. It's not happening."
Ms. Lindenmayer concluded her brief remarks by thanking everyone in attendance who helped her earn the award.
"Everyone deserves a round of applause. So I will lead it," she said, applauding the gathering.
FMR Corp. Vp and Corporate Treasurer John D. Crumrine then introduced himself as Ms. Lindenmayer's boss. "As you can imagine, that's a challenging role," he said, drawing a smattering of laughter.
"I have to tell Judy what to do, what to say, how to do everything," he said, tongue firmly planted in cheek, about the highly energetic and forthright Ms. Lindenmayer. "It's challenging, and it's not working well, quite frankly. So, I'm going to have to try a different approach."
Mr. Crumrine then lamented about Ms. Lindenmayer's relationship with her insurance brokers, whom he called "out of control."
"She's too soft. They're walking all over us," he complained, again amusing the gathering.
Two powerhouse brokers Ms. Lindenmayer has long used, Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. and Johnson & Higgins, recently merged to form J&H Marsh & McLennan Inc. Mr. Crumrine shared his views on what prompted the merger: "The truth is they're bonding together, joining forces, because Judy is too tough for any single firm to deal with."
He summed up by saying Ms. Lindenmayer "is a creative person, a tenacious person," who also is committed to helping each one of her staff develop and further his or her career. She challenges people but then does not take credit for what they have accomplished, he said. "That's a sign of a real leader."
Continuing with the theme of Ms. Lindenmayer's relationship with her brokers, Walter S. Tomenson Jr., an executive vp with J&H Marsh & McLennan, applauded both Ms. Lindenmayer's and her staff's tenacity.
"If you're lucky enough to work closely enough with Judy and her team, you'll be challenged and stretched."
Mr. Tomenson recalled the time he brought his teen-age daughter to a breakfast meeting with Ms. Lindenmayer the day the Tomensons were to visit the Harvard University campus. After the meeting, his daughter told him, "I've never seen any person who had such control of the facts, the deal, the strategies.*.*.and you."
"Judy has been our Risk Manager of the Year every year," he concluded.
Fidelity broker Thomas F. McKenna, a J&H Marsh & McLennan managing director who helped Ms. Lindenmayer put together a couple of integrated risk programs for Fidelity, held up a handful of letters that he called Ms. Lindenmayer's "hit list." The letters are his collection of caustic correspondence that she has fired off to the broker over the years when she was less than pleased with its performance.
However, Mr. McKenna refrained from revealing any of the contents until later in the day at more private gatherings.
Describing how Ms. Lindenmayer challenges and motivates people, Mr. McKenna said, "She does it professionally, and she does it with fun."
Brian Kawamoto, another Fidelity broker, who co-nominated Ms. Lindenmayer for the award, also tipped his hat to her.
Commenting on her drive and intensity, he said: "A day in the life of Judy Lindenmayer is like a day in the life of the Internet. If you don't keep up with her, you'll find yourself tremendously behind."
Ms. Lindenmayer is "goal- and results-oriented," but describing her only in that way "seems shallow," said Mr. Kawamoto, an executive vp at Aon Risk Services Cos. Inc. in San Francisco.
"The best word to use is that she's terribly passionate"-about her career, about the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., about the Spencer Educational Foundation Inc., and at the craps table, where she occasionally can be found with "a cigarette in her mouth and with a Stoli vodka and extra dollars in her hand," he said.
"I know more stories than anyone" about Ms. Lindenmayer, offered Donna M. Manzo, a member of Ms. Lindenmayer's staff. The two met a decade ago when both worked at Data General Corp. in Boston. "I'll save those 'til later, because she pays me."
Ms. Manzo, corporate risk manager at Fidelity. said working for Ms. Lindenmayer has been a great learning experience.
"It's often a pleasure working for Judy.*.*.and it's often a challenge working for Judy," she said. "She's a wonderful teacher."
The award is well-deserved, "and we're very proud of you," she told Ms. Lindenmayer.
Freida Jackson, president and risk manager of Park Smith Associates Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., and a co-member of the RIMS executive council with Ms. Lindenmayer over the past three years, said the two are similar in many ways. For example, she said: "I'm from the South. Judy likes grits."
Ms. Jackson said she values her relationship with Ms. Lindenmayer, whom she can call for advice. Ms. Lindenmayer "believes in integrity and honesty and practices those professionally and personally," she said.
Plus, "you always know where you stand with Judy."
Noting that both herself and Ms. Lindenmayer are leaving the executive council this year to pursue other interests, Ms. Jackson said, "I know at least she'll be missed."
"Congratulations from RIMS," which this year, for the first time, has recognized the Business Insurance Risk Manager of the Year Award. "Congratulations. You're a very, very special lady," Ms. Jackson said.
William J. Kelly, a managing director with J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. of New York, noted he also worked with Ms. Lindenmayer on the RIMS executive council for two years. "Two years can be a long time," he quipped.
"Judy likes to present an image of being a tough customer," he observed. "Having worked with Judy two years, there is something to that image."
But, he also noted her "generosity to colleagues and friends."
C.J. Spivey, president of C.J. Spivey Associates Inc. in Charlotte, N.C., and a former RIMS president, concurred with that sentiment.
"You can judge the greatness in a person by the way they treat people on their way up," he said. Noting his long acquaintance with Ms. Lindenmayer, he applauded her for the hand she has given others in shaping their careers.
"As an old has-been from RIMS, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate you," he told her, adding that he was disappointed that her decision to leave the executive council means "I will not see you as president of RIMS."
Brian D. Casey, last year's Risk Manager of the Year and a judge in this year's contest, marveled at how "everybody talks about how Judy helps other people."
"I had the opportunity to read the application" her brokers submitted in nominating Ms. Lindenmayer for the award, said the director of risk management and loss control for Corning Inc.
"It was like reading 'War and Peace' on microfiche. I wonder where she gets the time to help all the people she has," Mr. Casey said.
Anne Blodget, one of the brokers who co-nominated Ms. Lindenmayer for the award, described how "overwhelmed" the brokers were when they began writing down Ms. Lindenmayer's accomplishments that they knew about first-hand.
They were further awed when they began to annotate additional accomplishments, said Ms. Blodget, a vp with Aon Risk Services Inc. of Massachusetts in Boston.
She concluded by reading an excerpt from a letter by Patrick G. Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer of Aon Group Inc.: "You are an extraordinary talent, Judy, and FMR is most fortunate to have you."
The most moving part of the toast came during remarks by Ms. Lindenmayer's son.
"I'm jealous," he told the gathering. "I thought all these years that I was the only one getting both ends" of his mother's parental guidance in the form of support and discipline.
"I didn't realize you all were her children."
In a tender tribute to Ms. Lindenmayer, he then thanked "the greatest, most loving mother" for helping him through their shared "lessons, challenges and grief."