Management Accounting

“Employees Need To Be Proud,” Zurich CFO Says

The finance chief of commercial insurer Zurich North America had 100 &doublequot;intense&doublequot; interactions in preparation for transforming t...
Kathy HoffelderJune 21, 2013

As a CFO in the commercial insurance industry, Dalynn Hoch has more than enough financial projects to keep her busy. But her first priority is to make sure her employees are engaged in all of them.

“Your employees need to be proud; they need to be attached to the mission, that strategic direction of your organization,” said Hoch, CFO of Zurich North America, at a CFO Women in Finance working session and awards luncheon in May.

The way she runs the actuarial, treasury, controller and strategic planning groups that report to her as CFO is the same way she headed up the firm’s global finance transformation group years prior at Zurich’s corporate headquarters in Switzerland—with lots of team building.  

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When Hoch and other senior executives, for example, recently set out to reorganize the internal finance structure of Zurich, they ditched an original idea to write up a plan and ship it out to all of Zurich’s regions (Zurich has customers in more than 170 countries) and opted instead to have 100 intense “interactions” with groups of employees in those areas before beginning such a move.

Using that format, employees “felt empowered. They didn’t feel like we dropped in,” explained Hoch. They saw a “global roadmap” of how they fit into the organization, she said.  

Transforming a firm, whether in a reorganization or not, is never easy, she maintained, but getting employees involved can help any project run more smoothly. “You cannot just push transformation. You cannot just pull transformation. You actually have to go through a process that grabs the hearts and minds of your employees of your business. You have to do it in a way that they want to be engaged,” she added.