Biggest people moves of 2016: Zenefits, Aflac, Willis C-suite departures, more

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2016 will be remembered as a year for big moves for those in the benefits industry. Among the major changes include the departure of two Zenefits’ CEOs, a serial tech entrepreneur selling his company, and executive-level changes at Aflac, Willis Towers Watson and The Segal Group, among others.

Parker Conrad and David Sacks
Zenefits announced in early February that Parker Conrad was leaving the company in the wake of licensing compliance issues. At the time, David Sacks, Zenefits’ chief operating officer and a former Microsoft Corp. executive, was announced to take over as CEO.

“The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong,” Sacks wrote in February. “In order for us to move forward as a company, we cannot seek to hide or downplay the problem.”

But then, in early December, Sacks confirmed rumors that he is now stepping down as CEO. Sacks explained the move in an email to employees, saying he plans to become company chairman and lead the search for a new CEO.

“The chairman role will allow me to focus on what I do best — product and strategy — while working with a great operator who can help build our small business pipeline,” Sacks said in the company email.

Troy Underwood
In early August, serial tech entrepreneur Troy Underwood announced that he sold his broker-centric benefits administration and online enrollment solution benefitsCONNECT to cloud-based benefit provider benefitexpress.

Underwood was to stay on for about a month to help in the transition and then leave the company. While Underwood hasn't announced a new project yet, he told EBA that his plans include working “for another startup benefits agency or something that doesn't compete with the entity.”

“I want to be around to support it as much as humanly possible,” he said. “But I do have a lot of friends and colleagues in this industry and I will do something in the industry so I will probably start a benefits agency of some sort.”

Ashok Subramanian
Liazon co-founder Ashok Subramanian left the private exchange tech company over the summer. In November 2013, Towers Watson acquired Liazon and Subramanian joined the leadership team of Towers Watson’s exchange segment. He remains with Liazon as a strategic adviser.

Other news
Among other notable personnel changes were:

  • David Blumenstein was named president and CEO of The Segal Group, beginning Oct. 1. Prior to this promotion he was senior vice president
  • Dominic Casserley, president and deputy CEO of Willis Towers Watson, will leave the company when his employment agreement ends on Dec. 31. Casserley joined the Willis Group in January 2013 as CEO, a position he held until January 2016, when Willis and Towers Watson merged and he took on his present position.
From tech firm CEOs to brokers and HR professionals, these industry innovators will help shape the coming year as trends emerge and a new administration takes office.
December 30

  • Marc Cohen was named president of global insurance brokerage HUB International, effective Jan. 1, 2017. His previous role was regional president of HUB East region.
  • Mark Hanna was appointed president of the Million Dollar Round Table. As President, Hanna will work with the executive committee to maintain the association’s membership, professional and ethical standards, as well as provide a mix of networking and resources to help members broaden their expertise, grow their businesses and educate clients about the importance of financial planning.
  • Richard A. Hochman was named president of The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, part of the American Retirement Association, in October. Joining Hochman as ASPPA Officers for 2017 are President-elect Adam C. Pozek, Vice President James R. Nolan and three news members of the ASPPA Leadership Council: Justin Bonestroo, Robert M. Kaplan, and Frank Porter.
  • Dan Lebish is no longer EVP & COO for Aflac’s Group division in Columbia, S.C. News of his departure came to light in early August and there has been no official announcement from the insurance giant.
  • Virgil Miller was appointed senior vice president, chief administrative officer inside Aflac’s Group Operations divisions, replacing Lebish.
  • Matthew McKenna was hired as chief financial officer of The Plexus Groupe. As CFO, McKenna will set the firm’s financial policy and direction and lead its financial administration, business planning and budgeting. McKenna was most recently the CFO at Chicago-based OmniVere, an integrated discovery management and consulting firm.
  • Rebecca Schechter was named president, commercial insurance and president for Liberty Mutual Benefits. Her role will include overseeing the suite of employee benefits products and services, including disability, life, voluntary and absence management. She joined Liberty Mutual Benefits in July 2015 as senior vice president and general manager, Liberty Mutual Benefits Distribution.
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