When Carrier Management interviewed three chief operating officers and two chief operations officers of property/casualty insurance companies recently, all five said a sense of humor was one of the most important qualities for an operations leader to possess—with many listing that as the most important trait.

Executive Summary

Throughout this month, Carrier Management is providing different perspectives on the role of leaders of operations in the C-suite. Here, five leaders give their views personality characteristics of successful operations leaders and what it takes to ascend to positions similar to those they hold.

What else is essential?

“You have to be supportive,” says Sue Harnett, COO of QBE North America. “You have to be able to deal with ambiguity and complexity because change is hard,” she adds, referring to the fact that QBE is in the midst of an operational transformation.

“How do you set a direction and how do you make sure that people within the organization feel that they’re supported in the work that they do” are two main questions for the COO to deal with, she says.

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