Tricia Griffith ventures into the address corridor, prepared to spur the troops. It’s a drizzly Friday in November at Progressive’s Cleveland central station as Griffith makes that big appearance, merrily waving to a horde of 60 or so fresh out of the box new Progressive contracts masterminded in layered seating. Griffith’s basic “Hiiiiiii!” is welcomed merrily as the workers react in theme. The eagerness is tangible as Griffith amuses them with a record of her ascent to CEO. While discussing an early spell as an administrator learner at a building materials organization, the 54-year-old breaks a joke about her list of qualifications: “I’m really forklift-affirmed in the event that anybody needs a tub nook moved,” she deadpans, provoking one participant to yell, “Alright, young lady!” Later a representative asks Griffith what guidance she’d provide for trying CEOs. “Spotlight at work you’re doing now,” she says. “You will get took note.”
Griffith knows: She started her vocation at Progressive as a cases rep three decades back. That makes her an irregularity on two fronts: a CEO who began as a passage level worker at the organization she presently leads, and one of only 24 female Fortune 500 CEOs. But at the same time she’s something unique: a CEO pulling off the noteworthy development of an organization in a moderately staid, stable industry. Dynamic’s one-year and annualized three-year deals development (at 20.2% and 11.4%, separately) tops both Apple’s and Microsoft’s. The back up plan’s stock is up about half in the course of recent months, and benefits have dramatically increased. In 2017 Progressive vaulted past Allstate to end up the country’s third-biggest auto back up plan, behind Geico and State Farm. Also, maybe most astonishingly, toward the finish of the second from last quarter, the Mayfield, Ohio, organization hit $30 billion in net premiums composed, subsequent to achieving $20 billion only three years sooner—an amazing development rate for an undertaking that is presently 81 years of age.
Tricia Griffith began at Progressive as a cases learner, and she says that helped her comprehend the most essential parts of the business.
In the mean time, she’s been the central designer of a culture that is not just comprehensive and moving, it’s—might we venture to state—energizing. This year, interestingly, Progressive made it onto Fortune’s yearly rundown of Best Places to Work, where we noticed the “startup” vibe, including hackathons and a development “carport” that capacities as a representative run think tank and trial lab.
That is far from Progressive’s underlying foundations. The organization was established in 1937 as an individual auto safety net provider, in the long run discovering its specialty in high-chance drivers. In any case, under Griffith’s authority, it has moved a long ways past that. One key move came in 2015, when the organization gained a greater part stake in home guarantor ASI for generally $875 million in trade out a push to more readily package auto and home protection. The organization alludes to these package customers as “Robinsons,” a move to exemplify clients as opposed to utilizing sterile protection language. While Progressive had been endeavoring to sign them up for approximately 10 years before the ASI buy, Griffith drove the charge to quickly extend their numbers from around 400,000 to 1 million in a little more than two years—a central point driving the ongoing premium development flood. Griffith says she jumps at the chance to “set brassy objectives” to rally the organization around key activities and goad focused on ventures. In the property holders protection business, that speculation helped dispatch the HomeQuote Explorer instrument in 2017 to enable clients to think about transporter cites.
Top-positioning associates who have known Griffith for quite a long time—some of whom she prevailed upon advancements—say that she’s momentous at cultivating collaboration, and also making associations with general population representatives. On a stroll through Progressive’s specialty filled grounds, she can’t make five strides previously another bystander gets out, “Hello, Tricia!” Every Friday she makes a point to join a lunch table to meet representatives.
Why? Since she’s been that low-level representative, she says. In 1988 she reacted to an arranged advertisement requiring a cases agent learner, supposing she’d do it for a couple of years until the point that she completed her MBA. When she disclosed to her mom about the activity, the reaction was, “Gracious! The soup organization!” (alluding to Progresso). Amid Griffith’s first year positioned at a little Indianapolis claims office, she regularly wound up in body shops creeping under autos to compose gauges. There were not a great deal of ladies present, and Progressive’s clothing standard of suits with skirts, hose, and shut toe shoes made things troublesome on occasion, Griffith says. In one example, she dollied under a vehicle to survey harmed suspension parts “and when I returned out, there were, similar to, 10 folks remaining there,” she says. “It was much the same as, ‘Man, I gotta battle through this.’ ”
She did, and relentlessly ascended the cases division, in the long run grabbing the attention of her forerunner, at that point CEO Glenn Renwick. At the point when the organization was searching for another head of HR, it took the relentless goading of Griffith’s family, companions, and partners to influence her to approach Renwick. “It was my very own inside voice saying, ‘You most likely couldn’t do that,’ or ‘You don’t have that experience.’ ” But she worked up her boldness, and in 2002 Renwick gave her a shot, having confidence in her skill on the business side and her capacity to “advance the way of life,” he tells Fortune. As HR head, her first C-suite level employment, Griffith propelled Progressive’s first-historically speaking assorted variety and consideration program, setting up the Progressive African American Network and LGBT Plus in 2007 (the organization has since included seven more gatherings).
Following her stretch in HR, Griffith came back to claims in 2008, filling in as the gathering’s leader, and later hardened her initiative involvement with positions as leader of client activities and head working officer of Progressive’s own lines branch, amid which time she got perpetually comfortable with the stray pieces tasks that make the organization run. Furthermore, when Renwick finished his CEO residency in 2016 following 15 years, Griffith was prepared to take control.
En route she understood how essential it isn’t just to be open yet in addition to propel workers by making them feel associated with the brand. This fall, “Flo” from the Progressive advertisements commended her 10-year commemoration with the organization. Griffith and the Progressive group chose to respect the point of reference by having Stephanie Courtney, the performer who plays her, feature a two-day visit over the U.S. (clients are continually getting some information about Flo, however most representatives have never observed her face to face). Griffith ensured Courtney felt agreeable as well, flying best executives down to Florida to meet her heretofore.
This shouldn’t imply that Griffith is all EQ—in reality, she has held onto apathetic knowledge too, wagering vigorously on A.I.- fueled innovation. Under her heading, in 2017 the organization revealed a versatile application across the country for Snapshot—its use based protection program that utilizes telematics to charge drivers premiums dependent on their individual driving style. Dynamic says it’s since gathered more than 1.5 billion miles of driving information, which it used to make a calculation that estimates occupied driving dependent on various factors, for example, sans hands utilize and recurrence of talking. “That is extremely the name of the diversion, having the capacity to comprehend what dangers will have more misfortunes,” Griffith says. And keeping in mind that different safety net providers have comparative contributions, Progressive is generally recognized as a pioneer in investigation. “Dynamic verifiably has been truly adept at advancing beyond everybody,” notes Elyse Greenspan, an investigator at Wells Fargo Securities. Projects like Snapshot empower Progressive to charge more dangerous drivers increasingly and sliced arrangements to keep more secure drivers—vital to ensuring benefits.
Settled in the rearward sitting arrangement of a dark organization Audi, Griffith muses about her voyage (it’s Rap Friday, she lets me know, alluding to the vehicle’s soundtrack: “We as a rule do Drake”). What keeps her up during the evening? Environmental change is an approaching worry for the mortgage holders business, and who will purchase collision protection if vehicles drive themselves? “The world is changing, so we need to change with it,” she says. Be that as it may, in any event she can transform from a place of solidarity. She’s in the driver’s seat of a safety net provider that is developing into a multi-item realm, with everything except two of its rivals in the rearview reflect.