Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

An interview with Policy Works' new president, John Eastly

Written by Steve Pieroway | Oct 15, 2014 9:38:00 PM

Last June, Kevin Campbell, president and founder of Policy Works, passed the reins of management over to John Eastly. Kevin has been increasingly active in a number of other ventures, so he asked vice president and co-founder John Eastly to take on the role of president and the responsibility for the operations of the company. Kevin will remain involved in the company, as CEO, working toward their vision for the future of commercial lines in Canada. We caught up with John recently, to find out more about this transition.

Do you bring a different vision to Policy Works?
Kevin and I have worked together for more than 25 years. We co-founded Policy Works. So our vision for the company and the product developed together and we still share the same vision. Policy Works is focused on commercial lines: all our resources and efforts go into this sector. We are focused on Canada: all our resources and efforts go into this country.

Since the beginning, we have worked to connect brokers and insurers. Originally, that connection came through paper-based workflows, then through email, and now through real-time connectivity and mobility. I'm excited about our vision for the future of commercial lines.

What do you see as the strengths of Policy Works?
Our fundamental strength is our drive for excellence. We're continually striving to improve our products, our services, how we work, and as individuals. I thrive in an environment of competitive excellence, where the strengths of the people around me drive me to stretch further and try harder, and where I can see that my own ideas and efforts have inspired them in return. In that kind of culture, you will reach new levels of excellence over time. Policy Works is already the best-of-breed commercial management system in Canada. And our service garners world-class ratings in customer satisfaction. But we're never satisfied and are working every day to improve our products and our service.

The strength of our product is our focus on commercial lines. That's all we do. We aren't trying to be a BMS, or document management system, or accounting system, or whatever. We just manage brokers' commercial-lines information better than any other system. Policy Works is integrated with all the major broker management systems in Canada--Epic, sigXP, TAM, Power Broker, Deltek, CIM-Data--so a broker can select whichever BMS suits their business needs and still get the advantages of using Policy Works. This flexibility allows a broker to up their game on commercial lines, without all the disruption of replacing their BMS.

What challenges do you see?
As a small company, we don't have the resources to pursue every opportunity or idea that comes our way. We must be vigilant about resisting the urge to pursue ideas that diffuse our focus--even if they're great ideas--because it will diminish our impact. So it's important that we stay in close contact with our customers, listening to the needs of our stakeholders and understanding the value that we bring to their businesses. That communication helps us to better evaluate the many opportunities that arise.

What strengths do you bring to the role of president?
I'm disciplined, patient and focused on the long term. William James said "Day by day, we build our lives, and day by day, we can take steps toward making real the magnificent creations of our imaginations." I enjoy the challenge of striving toward a goal that will require years of effort to achieve. You can't be too impatient for achieving such a goal or you will grow disappointed and give up. You need to thrive on the daily rhythm of the work, of taking one more step toward your vision, watching your progress and searching for ways to refine your efforts. Then, as the days march past, you will suddenly discover that you're making real progress. And when you reach such a goal, then you've accomplished something really amazing, a magnificent creation.

Are you making any changes at Policy Works?
My new role is only part of a reorganization of our management structure. Kevin is still deeply involved in the long-term strategy of Policy Works, through his role as CEO. We have a group of talented and ambitious people in our company, who are the next generation of leaders. I'm working closely with them to improve communication and collaboration throughout the organization, to distribute decision making, and to help them build the management skills for moving us toward our vision.

I am passionate about excellence, so I'm putting a lot of my energy into nurturing continual improvement. Every team in the company is establishing a cycle of measuring, evaluating and improving their processes. In every aspect of our business, we regularly ask ourselves three questions: What do we do well? What do we not do well? What actions can we take to improve our results?

That passion and approach extends to our people, of course. I'm very proud of my colleagues at Policy Works and grateful that I have the opportunity to be surrounded by their creativity and enthusiasm each day. They share my passion for excellence and desire to have fun together. We all want to do well and to continually get better. So I'm working to ensure that we have the organizational structures to support their professional and personal development. And I'm encouraging everyone to be mindful about excellence, to talk openly about it, to ask for criticism and to give it.