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2019 Women to Watch: Melissa Cerny

Melissa Cerny

Melissa Cerny
Area president
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Glendale, California
Age: 41

Melissa Cerny’s second office job, at 25, was for a small insurance brokerage, Chapman Insurance, that had about 10 employees and about $3 million in revenue.

By the time the business, which focuses on nonprofits in the western United States, was sold to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. seven years ago, it had grown to 50 employees and $14 million a year in revenue, and Ms. Cerny had become its chief operations officer.

Her boss, Greg Chapman, stayed on for a while after the sale, as planned, and Ms. Cerny assumed the position of area president about five years ago.

“Since selling to Gallagher, now we have 100 people managed out of four offices” and close to $39 million in revenue, she said.

Ms. Cerny attributes her success to having worked “with really great people.” “I’ve had a lot of people that invested in me and believed in me and gave me a lot of opportunity. It’s been a great blessing of mine to be in this role and hire smart, motivated, good people around me,” she said.

“I’m very involved here in L.A., especially within our industry, in helping more women get involved at the highest level,” she said.

Her unit is almost all female in sales and management and ethnically diverse, which is “pretty unique” and “which can also be unique for our industry. That’s a big deal for me,” she said.

Asked about her characteristics, Ms. Cerny said, “I talk fast, I walk fast. I like multitasking, so it helps me to work with people that give me a lot of leeway.”’

“I want to retire here,” she said. “I never want to leave my team. I don’t want a different job or title.”

Scott Firestone, regional president of Los Angeles-based Gallagher West, said Ms. Cerny “is a passionate innovator in our business, committed to the client experience, the employee experience and perpetuating the business. She really is a visionary.”

Ms. Cerny, who has two children, Dylan, 9, and Lyla, 7, just celebrated 15 years of marriage with husband Jeremy, who is a stay-at-home dad.

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