Women to Watch Inspiration Award: Jane TutokiPosted On: Dec. 2, 2019 12:00 AM CST
When she was still a teenager, Jane Tutoki began developing the skills she would need to become one of the few female CEOs in the insurance sector.
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, she always wanted to be a litigator.
Things started well. Graduating high school at 17, she took a year off before college to live in Japan and learn Japanese. She also taught English and did some interpreting when she was sufficiently proficient in the language.
But when she returned to the United States in 1978 to attend college, her mother died within a year, and her father died soon afterward.
In addition to facing the tragedy of losing both parents, she also had to find the financial means to complete her education.
She solved the problem by starting a business with her then-boyfriend — and now husband of 39 years — importing kerosene heaters from Japan.
Running the business, she learned management and business skills she has used throughout her career.
“When I was 19, I had 60-year-old employees and I had to learn how to maneuver through that. I didn’t know more than them, but I had to collaborate with them to make sales in our stores,” Ms. Tutoki said.
Her ability to support and get the best out of people has been a hallmark of her career, said Domenick DiCicco, general counsel and chief compliance officer for Health Insurance Innovations Inc. in Tampa, Florida, who has worked with Ms. Tutoki at various companies.
“She’s a good picker of talent, a good strategist and, like anyone in her position, she drives hard but she does it in a way that’s not negative,” Mr. DiCicco said. “She’s more about finding out how she can help you succeed.”
In recognition of her success, Ms. Tutoki is the recipient of the 2019 Business Insurance Inspiration Award, which will be presented at the Women to Watch Awards later this month in New York.
Selling the heater business in 1986, she worked at a law firm, but realizing it would be years before she would be allowed to run a trial, she became an in-house lawyer at Continental Insurance, which was later bought by CNA Financial Corp. “They let me go to trial all the time,” she said.
She later moved to Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., where in 1999 she moved to commercial claims, and later moved to Farmers Insurance, a subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. in Los Angeles, to run auto claims. Other roles at Zurich included a two-year stint in the head office in Switzerland running global claims, where she headed a team of 20,000.
After moving back to the U.S., she eventually joined American International Group Inc. as global head of claims operations for AIG Property and Casualty from 2012 to 2014, when she was approached to be global CEO of claims management firm Cunningham Lindsey Group Ltd.
“I wanted to be a female CEO in this industry because they are still rare, shockingly,” she said.
She led the turnaround and sale of the firm to Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. last year. On leaving her executive role, she was named the first female board member of Sedgwick earlier this year.
Currently working on a book based on her management experience, Ms. Tutoki is confident that the next generation of women in the insurance sector will include more senior executives.
“The next generation just thinks differently and doesn’t get hung up on the things that our generation tends to,” she said.