Holding the position of chief culture officer is no easy task. It takes flexibility, empathy and an inherent ability to listen—to both what is said and unsaid.

Executive Summary

Not unlike the cultures of countries around the world, the cultures within companies evolve over time, says Ivy Kusinga. Here, the chief culture officer of Chubb explains that while some may think of culture as soft and fuzzy concepts, the global insurer pays strong attention to its strong culture of accountability, with leaders taking a personal sense of ownership of it. She also explains her unconventional role, describing the need to be at once dispassionate and empathetic and to rely on deep listening skills to support her colleagues.

With a background in retail banking, Chief Culture Officer and Senior Vice President Ivy Kusinga stumbled into the insurance field. She began as a project manager with Chubb’s Bermuda operation in 2000, moving up the ranks to work in the areas of training and development, talent and human resources. She said cultivating culture has been vital to the success of acquisitions over the years and is what propelled the global insurer’s growth.

With 31,000 employees operating in 54 countries, ensuring the company culture is the same in the U.S as it is in other countries can be a challenge. Defining what culture means becomes increasingly important, she said.

“The definition I would use is that we are predominantly focused on who we are, what characterizes us—our DNA as a company, what behaviors do we expect for each other as colleagues, and how [do] we really make decisions as a business,” Kusinga explained. “Collectively, that tripod—who we are, what behaviors we expect, and what we reward and recognize—really creates how we view culture. For us, it’s really about the coded wisdom that is developed through shared experiences and shared values.”

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