Pat Gallagher sheds light on what makes him most proud about AJG

Greatest corporate achievement of top boss revealed

Pat Gallagher sheds light on what makes him most proud about AJG

Insurance News

By Sam Boyer

Businesses success can be determined in so many ways – by profit, by revenue, by the number of deals made, by market share.

But Arthur J. Gallagher chairman, president, and CEO Pat Gallagher has a different measure of success. When he spoke with Insurance Business recently, he didn’t count as his greatest corporate achievement the three-decade growth of his company, its US$10.1 billion value, nor its global reach and 26,000 staff members.

So what does Gallagher consider his greatest business success?

“It really comes down to one thing,” the 65-year-old said, “our culture.”

“I joined the firm in 1974, after two years in an internship, and we had 125 people and did US$6 million in revenue. And as we started to grow the business, people would say to me, ‘When you get to 500 people, you won’t be able to keep the company culture.’ The culture is very much a family-feeling culture. And then at 1,000 people, they’d say, ‘That’s a great culture, but at 2,000 you won’t keep it.’

“What I’m most proud of, of anything in the whole company, is that I could take you around the world – I could take you to India, where we have 2,000 colleagues; I could take you to Canada – our culture hangs together.”

It’s a culture built on respect and an assistance on helping one another out for the good of the company.

“We have a unique Gallagher culture,” he said. “We believe very deeply in ethical behavior. We believe in taking care of one another. We collaborate across boundaries and borders like you wouldn’t believe, and you can’t legislate that – I can’t write a memo that says, ‘Henceforth, everybody please co-operate.’

“And that’s one of the things I hear from our merger partners. They come aboard and they say, ‘You know what, I put out a request for help and it’s overwhelming how many people were willing to help me.’

“So what I’m most proud of is that for 26,000 people – and I travel the world all year long – this culture is the culture of Gallagher, which is unique, and our management team works really hard to keep it.”

The culture that Gallagher is so proud of is no accident. Despite the directive not having been a “memo”, it is nonetheless a concerted top-down approach.

And, though AJG is notorious within the industry for its continued acquisition-march, the company’s M&A directors are incredibly conscious of only buying up firms that will form a natural fit with the culture, Gallagher said.

“It’s a very focused effort by senior management and middle management and junior management to recognise that we have something different and unique, and we bring people in that ‘get it,’” he explained. “So when we’re buying these smaller firms, one of the things they’re feeling is, ‘These people are like me.’ The reason we keep [the culture] is because we believe it and we live it.”

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