Power CEOs

What do our local corporations’ new business leaders think?
by RaeAnne Marsh

Some companies are woven through so much of the fabric of our business community that their impact extends far beyond their individual sector. A handful of such companies here have recently made changes in their top leadership with people newly calling Phoenix home. In Business Magazine, working with Greater Phoenix Leadership CEO Neil Giuliano, explored these new relationships and what they mean for business here.

“Our impression is that the Valley will remain a very attractive area for businesses to locate and grow for many years to come,” says Mike Hummel, Salt River Project’s general manager and chief executive officer, offering a general view as the only one of our sample with a long history in the Valley. And he notes, “For more than a century, SRP has and will continue to provide the essential resources necessary to meet our customers’ water and power needs.”

Through partnerships with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council, SRP has been able to attract and support the expansion of some great companies such as Nikola Motor Company, Orbital ATK, EdgeCore and many more, Hummel points out. “These companies are innovating and growing within their own industries and enhancing the Greater Phoenix brand as an innovation hub.

“As the Valley grows, so too will our industry. New customers drive the need for expanding infrastructure along with new energy and water supplies. SRP is currently making significant investments in grid modernization technologies, communications infrastructure and constantly seeking ways to expand the use of renewable energies through emerging technologies.”

In fact, Hummel characterizes the Valley as being in a great place right now. And his optimism is echoed by our other participants as they share their impression of the local market in terms of its stability and growth potential — overall and in their specific industry.

“Phoenix is a vibrant, dynamic and growing metropolitan area that CopperPoint is proud to call home,” says Marc Schmittlein, president and CEOof CopperPoint Insurance Companies. Noting that Arizona ranked fifth nationwide for job creation, with the Phoenix metro area accounting for 85 percent of new jobs added in Arizona in 2017, he adds, “This is encouraging news for CopperPoint!”

J.P. Morgan Private Bank managing director and market manager for Arizona Noreen Bishop points out that, following the recession, the economy in the Phoenix market continues to grow and expand, with corporate headquarters relocating here at higher rates. “We have a fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and greater diversification of industries. All of this bodes well for a stable and growing economy, job growth and personal financial wealth,” he says.

With regard to Phoenix being one of the fastest-growing job markets and economies in the United States, Don Pearson, lead region bank president of Wells Fargo & Company’s Desert Mountain region, says, “Whether you are part of its growing workforce or an entrepreneur trying to start a business, Wells Fargo works to provide the best-in-class services and guidance to help our diverse customer base reach their financial goals.”

And Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, observing that Forbes’ ranking of Phoenix as one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities includes an assessment that it offers strong socioeconomic conditions for workers and a booming healthcare industry, says these are “both factors that offer significant growth potential for business- and consumer-friendly insurers like BCBSAZ.”

Major Market Shifts

Since status quo is antithetical to growth, the health of a company requires its leadership to identify and align with major market shifts.

“This is a time of change and opportunity for SRP and our community,” Hummel says. “Advances in renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency and communications technologies provide new ways for SRP to provide an expanding set of choices to meet customers’ needs and wants.

“These advances also enable us to enhance our sustainability efforts and reduce our environmental impact. Protecting Arizona’s natural resources is at the heart of SRP’s mission.SRP is working toward a cleaner energy mix, which includes reducing our coal generation, carbon emissions and increasing our use of renewable energy by 2035.

“In the area of telecom, two recently completed but separate third-party reliability studies have verified the reliability and accountability of the SRP DataStation concept. Launched in 2014 as an innovative, first-of-its-kind in the world pilot project, SRP sees the DataStation concept as a solution that would allow for high enterprise scale data center growth with minimal impact to the community in relation to new power line construction.”

Speaking for CopperPoint, Schmittlein notes the company is continuing to evolve from being solely a workers’ compensation insurance provider in Arizona to diversifying its geographic presence and product suite to be more responsive and relevant to its customers, expanding its product suite to include commercial property, general liability, commercial auto and more. “We have been conducting business in Nevada and Colorado for the last few years, and look forward to expanding our brand in those states as well as New Mexico and Utah later this year. With our recent acquisition of Pacific Compensation Insurance Company in Westlake Village, California, we are much better positioned to support our Arizona customers with locations and employees in California.”

“Banking, like so many businesses, is about giving customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it,” says Bishop, offering an overview of issues driving the sector: providing innovative, digital solutions for customers — “Digital everything,” he says — through mobile banking, self-directed investing, online tools and advice — all without sacrificing security.

Pearson’s view is closer to home as he says, “There are countless success stories out there that illustrate how we are at our best when we work together. This kind of relationship banking is a hallmark of our company. But as the way we do business and live our lives is constantly changing, we must follow suit. That is why we are harnessing technology to redefine our next generation of capabilities and prioritize research and development that elevates the customer experience.”

Describing two of the customer-friendly changes Wells Fargo has made to help customers better manage their accounts, Pearson says, “In March, we introduced automatic zero balance alerts, and we now send more than 18 million real-time alerts a month, enabling our customers to make a deposit or transfer so they don’t overdraw their account. In November, we introduced Overdraft RewindSM, which in its first two months helped more than 350,000 direct-deposit customers avoid overdraft charges by including direct deposits received by 9 a.m. the next day in a re-evaluation of the prior day’s transactions which resulted in a fee.”

Kehaly points to three areas of change that she sees as good for BCBSAZ and also benefit its customers. “The first is a shift from volume-based medical care (the number of medical services received — visits, tests, pokes, pricks, etc.) to value-based care focused on health outcomes. This means more coordinated, effective and affordable care. BCBSAZ supports this shift through our Patient-Centered Medical Home Program and our high-performance network solutions, among other efforts.

“Secondly, our company benefits from an increasing interest in collaborations that improve value. Insurers, employers, providers, and others are looking for new ways to build value together. I believe we’ll see an explosion of innovative solutions as a result, and BCBSAZ will play a role in many. Any new solution that creates value will lift all ships, and I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring.

“And finally, the rise of digital solutions that improve the consumer experience of healthcare will directly benefit BCBSAZ. We are leveraging these technologies to help our customers make informed decisions, manage their health, and navigate the system.”

Technology is also at the heart of what LaPorte describes as happening with HonorHealth. “HonorHealth has been directing its investments into advanced medical and information technology for convenient access points for patients.

“HonorHealth is pivoting from being just a hospital system that treats patients when they are very sick, to being a healthcare system that promotes the health and well-being of its community: before, during and after hospital visits,” LaPorte says, anticipating a great era for patients. “I believe the healthcare forecast for individual patients and our general community will improve as we move into the next decade specifically with high quality demonstrated through effective outcomes directed by evidence-based practices, satisfying “consumer experience” journeys facilitated by a more coordinated hub of healthcare providers, effective use of continuously advancing automation and technology that allows care to be more accessible and affordable, and ongoing education for young people for the high level of skills required in the delivery of healthcare services reaching all demographics.”

Getting Acclimated

Corporate culture may flow across worksite locations, but the Valley has its own unique climate — business as well as environmental.

Hummel has been immersed in it over his 35 years with SRP. LaPorte was also already an Arizonan, having grown up in Tucson. “I am a desert rat adopting the pioneer spirit that has magnetized so many to the Southwest,” he says, and adds specifically, “Every time I visit other cities, I return to the Valley thrilled that I live here.”

For Schmittlein, “The transition from Connecticut to Phoenix, Arizona has been great! This is a very welcoming community and we felt at home from the very start.”

Speaking with us in early May, Kehaly says, “I have very much enjoyed my first few months in Arizona. I have a son who attends ASU, and it has been a delight to live closer to him. And I am invigorated by the entrepreneurial spirit and welcoming community in Phoenix. I realize I haven’t yet lived through an Arizona summer, but I’m getting great advice about staying cool, and the summer months will give me a good excuse to explore northern Arizona!”

Phoenix summers also color Pearson’s experience in a positive way: “I love living in Arizona and I’m grateful for the team I work with. It’s been a pretty smooth transition, all around. The summers are hot, but there’s less snow than what I had in the Des Moines, Iowa, winters.”

Bishop moved to Arizona 10 years ago to manage Business Banking at Chase, and now, she says, “it is home to me and my family. It is an incredibly welcoming and vibrant business community, generous with its talents and resources, with deep entrepreneurial and innovative roots. As I am now leading the Arizona Private Bank for J.P. Morgan, I continue to feel a shared commitment to community, collaboration and innovation among business leaders, executives, and philanthropists.”

Fitting into the Local Market & Impacting its Economy

“The booming healthcare sector in Arizona drives enormous benefit to the state,” Kehaly says. “As a health insurer, BCBSAZ’s role is to ensure our customers are getting the most value from their healthcare dollars. Recent years have seen a steady slowing of the pace of healthcare cost increases, due in part to the products and network solutions offered by insurers like BCBSAZ.

“In addition, we strive to support Arizona as a steady and committed local health insurance company. In the rural counties, we remain the sole carrier for individual purchasers of health insurance, and we hope to continue to serve in this role as long as the market remains viable. And finally, we are committed to serving Arizona as an employer of choice, providing 1,500 Arizonans with stable employment and strong benefits.”

Similarly, LaPorte says, “I believe HonorHealth’s mission, to promote the health and well-being of our community, is foundational to any successful market. We not only enhance the quality of lifestyle through the security of healthcare services, but we offer a highly skilled workforce to interact within the local economy.”

“Wells Fargo believes strongly in the power of small and women-owned businesses to grow jobs and help our communities flourish,” says Pearson. “It’s a positive sign that Wells Fargo’s small-business loan approval is up and we are proud of the fact that we are continuously recognized in Arizona for giving out more small-business loans than any other lender.

“In addition, we expand our offerings for our existing small business customers. Wells Fargo is training and hiring team members: More than 11,000 of our branch bankers have completed our Business Advocate Program training, and we are expanding our teams that serve small businesses with $2 million to $5 million in annual revenue. Through Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®, we are delivering a wide range of financial resources, guidance, and services that will help small businesses take the next step toward their goals. Today, wellsfargoworks.com includes a Business Plan Tool, giving business owners a way to create and update a business plan; a Business Credit Center to make it easier to find credit options and increase understanding of how credit decisions are made; and a new Marketing Center to help address the marketing needs of small business owners.”

Bishop, noting that JPMorgan Chase & Co. is the largest bank in Arizona, employing more than 10,000 and supporting the three million consumers as well as thousands of businesses large and small, says, “We have senior leadership representing all the major lines of business across our firm, who work collaboratively to provide solutions to clients and the community. We’re committed to making positive change in Arizona and addressing our community’s economic and social challenges. We’re committed to helping Military Veterans with employment, hiring more than 1,100 in Arizona alone. Last year our bank contributed more than $2.8 million to local charities, and our people volunteered 21,000 hours in service to local causes. JPMorgan Chase is part of the fabric of this community. We know that when we promote diversity and inclusion in our entrepreneurial community, we’re supporting prosperity, job creation and economic opportunity for all.”

Schmittlein refers to CopperPoint’s 90-plus-year history of strength and stability in the State of Arizona, notes its headquarters at CopperPoint Tower in Phoenix with 325 Arizona-based employees, and says, “We are growing and diversifying. We can now support multi-state operations of our policyholders and offer additional products that help protect the business owner, employees and customers. We continue to make investments to better serve our independent agents and policyholders in Arizona and the surrounding states.

“Our commitment to the Phoenix market and the State of Arizona has never been stronger!” Schmittlein states.

“At SRP, everything we do is for the betterment of Arizona and our customers,” says Hummel, noting SRP has brought water and power to the desert, enabling economic growth, for more than 100 years. “We are leading efforts to find new and better ways to deliver reliable and affordable water and energy — because this is our home, and the people we serve and the communities in which we live, work and play are our priority.”

Pointing to SRP’s collaboration with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Greater Phoenix Economic Development, the tribes and the cities it serves through educational outreach and supporting community betterment efforts, Hummel observes, “In working together, we are able to develop plans and implement actions that add jobs, attract capital investment and diversify the economy of the Valley.

“SRP’s stewardship of water resources is at the heart of our strong economy. We have a well-designed and -maintained system of reservoirs, canals, and underground water storage basins that provide a reliable supply of water to our communities and agricultural irrigators — even through extended periods of drought. We are also a leader in efforts to improve the health of Arizona’s forests, which is an important component to the overall water supply and management picture.

“Our canal system supports 65 miles of fully developed multi-use paths, which include bikeways, landscaping, lighting, public art and other amenities. Another 13.5 miles are being developed for similar use, and additional canal areas are identified for future enhancements.”

Invested in Community

There are multifaceted ways these companies benefit the community, from identifying and addressing workforce development needs to hands-on volunteer efforts. Bishop, Hummel, Kehaly, LaPorte, Pearson and Schmittlein continue their companies’ strong tradition of setting examples for effective programs and actions.

“BCBSAZ is committed to helping Arizonans across the state achieve optimal health,” Kehaly says, pointing to its support of hundreds of organizations through volunteer hours, resources and funding. “Our signature initiatives strive to make a state-wide impact in the areas of health and nutrition. We are also working collaboratively with the community to address the state’s opioid crisis. These efforts are at the core of our mission, which is to improve the quality of life for Arizonans.”

“CopperPoint is a company that places great value on giving back and supporting the community,” says Schmittlein, adding, “Community engagement is engrained in our culture.” Noting that CopperPoint supported more than 100 nonprofits last year, he explained, “We give all employees 12 hours of paid time-off each year to volunteer during the work day, which totaled 4,500 volunteer hours in 2017. We have over 30 employees on 47 civic and nonprofit boards. Just recently, CopperPoint was the co-title sponsor of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk, a cause very personal to my family and me.” Additional programs include the CopperPoint Agency Partnership, created in partnership with its independent agents. “The program has already made a significant impact with amazing organizations such as Wounded Warrior, Natural Restorations and Make-A-Wish.”

LaPorte points to HonorHealth’s investment in facilities, equipment and talent to provide highly specialized medical services; increased access to “even more routine medical services,” and social services in adult day care, a children’s learning center and a food bank when he says, “HonorHealth looks forward to connecting even more deeply into the fabric of a community-wide effort to favorably affect a wide array of social needs related to health, such as food security, housing and transportation, to name a few.”

“JPMorgan Chase has been keenly focused on supporting career pathways in high-demand industries to meet local workforce needs,” Bishop says, noting that, without the right skills and meaningful postsecondary credentials, many young people entering the labor market find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs or — worse — are unemployed and out of school. “That’s why we have been so thrilled to support initiatives like those by the Center for the Future of Arizona. For several years now, the CFA has been building out training curriculum and employer partnerships that will provide students with the career-focused education they need to fill good jobs.We believe that making the economy work for more people is not simply a moral obligation — it’s a business imperative.”

Says Hummel, “SRP strives to lead the way for a better future for Arizona in a multitude of ways, but we truly shine in the realm of volunteerism and collaborating with local nonprofits.” The last fiscal year, he says, SRP provided more than $3.4 million in grants and in-kind contributions, and contributed more than $1.3 million to education initiatives throughout the state. “We support teachers by providing classroom grants, free training and educational resources.” Volunteerism involves company employees and retirees, as well as their family members and friends, who invest time, skills and resources to build stronger Arizona communities — logging nearly 36,000 hours of volunteer service to nonprofits every year. In addition, SRP was one of 15 companies in the nation honored with the 2017 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for its above-and-beyond support of employees who also are members of the National Guard or Reserve, and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption ranked SRP among the top 100 companies in its 2017 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces List — the second time that SRP has ranked in the list’s Top 100 group. “SRP has been a leader in the Valley for more than 100 years, and we are committed to making Arizona a great place to live for the next century and beyond.”

“Wells Fargo believes that for our company to prosper, our communities must also prosper,” Pearson says. In 2017, Wells Fargo donated $6.9 million to support nonprofits in Arizona and its team members spent more than 110,000 hours of their time volunteering with nonprofits, schools and community organizations; in Phoenix alone, those numbers were $1.9 million to support nonprofits and 36,000 volunteer hours. Among those who received grants in Phoenix was the Phoenix Children’s Hospital — Wells Fargo partnered with KTAR radio station to raise a record $1.6 million for the hospital, donated $10,000 to support the effort and had more than 100 volunteers assist with the event throughout the day. “And most recently,” he says, “we contributed $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Arizona to ensure that children all over the state had a safe place to learn, play and enjoy a healthy lunch and snack during the historic teacher’s walkout.”

CEO Bios

Noreen Bishop
Arizona Market Manager
J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Bishop manages a team of professional advisors, providing customized strategies to help clients grow and preserve their wealth while leveraging the depth, breadth and variety of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s comprehensive financial services platform. She has held a number of positions within the company since joining it in 1987.

In Arizona since 2008, Bishop serves on the board of Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, Greater Phoenix Leadership, Arizona Community Foundation and Providence College School of Business. She has been a leading advocate for a number of JPMorgan Chase programs, including Women on the Move and PHX Startup Week. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Providence College and completed an executive leadership program at Smith College.

Mike Hummel
General Manager & CEO
Salt River Project

Hummel has more than 35 years at SRP and has served in several executive-level positions. He holds a M.B.A. from Arizona State University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona. Hummel is a registered Professional Engineer in Arizona and Nevada; and he also successfully completed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Nuclear Reactor Technology Program.

As an active leader on professional, technical and community boards, Hummel currently serves on the boards of trustees of the Arizona Science Center and the University of Arizona Foundation; University of Arizona’s College of Engineering Industry Partner Board; and the
boards of directors of Trapper Mine, EPRI, and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

Pam Kehaly
President & CEO
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ)

Kehaly is responsible for the strategic direction and financial health of the 1,500-employee company. She is committed to supporting BCBSAZ’s mission by helping residents across the state achieve optimal health. With more than 30 years in the health insurance industry, she has developed an expertise in collaborating with doctors and hospitals to align financial incentives for better outcomes.

Prior to joining BCBSAZ, Kehaly served as president of Anthem Inc.’s West Region and Specialty business. She serves on the board of trustees for the Southern California and Nevada National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and on the boards of directors for Geisinger Health, HealthCorps and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Stanislaus.

Todd LaPorte
CEO
HonorHealth

With more than 30 years of diverse experience in healthcare, Todd LaPorteleads an integrated health system with five acute-care hospitals, extensive outpatient services and community services.

To advance HonorHealth’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the community, he has promoted innovative technologies and created an expectation for every team member — more than 17,000 clinical and support employees, volunteers and physicians — to make every decision based on what’s best for the patient, one patient at a time. Since joining HonorHealth in 2001, he’s held executive roles where he focused on financial and strategic leadership, most recently as executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

Don Pearson
Lead Region President for the Desert Mountain Region
Wells Fargo & Company

Pearson leads a team of more than 7,065 team members, including 553 neighborhood banking locations, encompassing community banking operations in the states of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. A veteran of the financial services industry for nearly four decades, he started in the industry as a stockroom clerk before transitioning to leadership roles in credit, marketing, regional finance and operations.

A cornerstone of his leadership philosophy is giving back to the community, with more than 2,000 hours of volunteer time since 2009. He also is active on a number of community nonprofit organization boards of directors. Pearson is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Banking School in Dallas.

Marc E. Schmittlein, CPCU, AAI
President & CEO
CopperPoint Insurance Companies

With more than 30 years of commercial insurance experience, Schmittlein joined Phoenix-based CopperPoint Insurance Companies in 2016 as president and CEO. Schmittlein previously held leadership roles at The Travelers Company as president of its cyber business division and prior to that was co-president of business insurance.

Schmittlein holds the designations of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter and Accredited Advisor in Insurance. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Allegheny College, Pennsylvania. Schmittlein serves on the board of directors for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and the advisory board of the Arizona Chapter Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and previously served as honorary chair of the Western Connecticut Chapter of JDRF.

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