Kevin Campbell, President of Policy Works Inc., talks about what he's learned in over 20 years of leading a software company in the Canadian insurance industry.
Culture is your brand. I've always believed this. It’s in plain sight for everyone to see: your staff, your customers, your partners, and your suppliers. Your brand is how people feel about your company and your culture is what nurtures it.
Great cultures are created around an inspiring set of core values. Ours? Have fun, seek fulfillment, challenge the status quo, and serve others.
Having fun is something that we always try to do here at Policy Works. Make friends at work, enjoy each other’s company and have structured or informal activities that bring you closer together.
In seeking fulfillment I think you are always improving, always trying to better yourself. We encourage our people to focus on what they do well, set challenging goals, strive to improve, and play to win.
If you don’t challenge the status quo you can’t grow, whether it's at a personal level, company level or industry level. Part of our culture is to ask questions and challenge assumptions. We want our people to take an unconventional perspective, think strategically, create change and achieve long-term progress.
When it comes to serving others, we encourage our people to mentor each other, take on leadership roles, volunteer in the community and provide remarkable customer experiences. The great inventor Benjamin Franklin had a regular habit of getting up in the morning and asking: “What good shall I do this day?” I think that is a great motivator for anyone – no matter what business they are in.
Boss is an ugly word. We don’t have “bosses” at Policy Works. Leaders and mentors, yes. Bosses, no.
Vision is your rocket fuel. It’s what propels your company to the forefront. A compelling vision attracts the best people and inspires them to do their best work. For me now, the single-most important thing I do in my job is help craft and refine our vision, communicate it to the team, and then get the hell out of their way.
Customers are your reward for getting culture and vision right. Highly-engaged customers are an absolute joy to work with. They provide valuable insights, inspire your best ideas, and push you to do your finest work. And they happily pay a premium for a quality customer experience.
Who inspires me? My father and both grandfathers. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a well-known character named P.N.R. Morrison, or just “PNR” for short. He was a school teacher, politician and successful “wildcatter.” If you want to talk about entrepreneurial, he was one of the last of a breed of small-scale pioneers to drill for oil in Alberta.
On my father’s side, Charles John Campbell got into the insurance business in 1912. Today, 102 years later, CJ Campbell Insurance is still a thriving family-owned brokerage. Some employees have worked there over 40 years and it’s the only job they’ve ever had. And they even have 3rd-generation clients. Clearly, CJ knew a thing or two about culture, vision, and customer satisfaction when he created his business.
My father Don is a chartered accountant who was cajoled by his brother Stewart into the family insurance business in 1965 after successful stints at a national accounting firm and PNR’s oil company. In the late 1970’s, he became one of the first independent brokers to issue farm and commercial policies at the point of sale.
Basically, he had just had it with the inefficiencies inherent in the insurance industry so he took matters into his own hands. He pioneered modern-day declarations sheets and plain-language wordings to create high-quality insurance documents that were logically laid out, easy to read, and simple to explain to clients.
Although he was probably 20 years ahead of his time, those concepts served him well and were later the genesis behind Policy Works. In 1991 he spent the better part of a year writing a thesis simply entitled “Project ‘91” that became the blueprint for the very first version of Policy Works.
Photo credit: Quinn Campbell Photography