TOM HUDSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Tonight on a special episode of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, we meet insurance broker Pamela Newman, arguably one of the most influential women in America that most people have never heard of.
JOHN CATSIMATIDIS, PRESIDENT & CEO, GRISTEDES: She is one tough lady.And I find that tough women tend to fight harder for their clients. And that’s what I love about her.
DONALD J TRUMP, CHMN. & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP: There`s something about Pam where she just gets in there and kicks ass; she`s all right.
HUDSON: When you think of insurance, exciting probably isn`t the word that
comes to mind. But the global insurance industry is a $4 trillion a year
business and when it comes to identifying and managing risk at the highest
levels, it`s not just exciting. It can be life and death for a company.
One person who has been very successful in helping clients deal with that
risk is Pamela Newman. She works very hard to not only make insurance
thrilling, but to try and transform it into a work of art. She`s driven by
her passion for making things happen.
PAMELA J. NEWMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, NEWMAN TEAM AT AON CORP. NATURAL SOUND: Dare to be great! Dare to be great!
HUDSON: Dr. Pamela Newman, she has her PhD in psychology from the
University of Michigan, is not your average insurance agent.
NEWMAN: I think that I like people to be passionate about what they do.
And I think I like to create an excitement that allows them to be
passionate about what they do. There is no reason why every undertaking,
even if it a schedule of insurance, can`t be hugely imaginative, a piece of
HUDSON: To be sure the view from Newman`s corner office on New York`s
Water Street is inspirational. But from where she sits, she also sees the
world through the looking glass of being at the absolute peak of her
profession charged with understanding the risk of many of America`s top
businesses. And she`s been successfully doing it for decades, through
leadership, high expectations, the power of her personality, preparation
and hard work.
NEWMAN IN MEETING SPEAKING TO HER TEAM: Make it happen, let`s share these good thoughts with clients. Let`s help them grow.
NEWMAN: It`s totally dynamic. There isn`t a day around here that isn`t dynamic from the moment we arrive and it usually goes from early in the morning until late in the evening. It requires high energy. It
requires a really sophisticated capability to figure out what it is that clients require, needing, resolving, wanting to get done and then going to make it happen because your only measurement is your success of achieving it.
HUDSON: Spend a little time with Newman and you realize she can be a
genuine dichotomy, as glamorous as she is tough, as warm as she is
demanding and an elegant as she is determined. Newman heads up Newman team
at Aon (NYSE: AON), the global insurance giant. In short, Aon (NYSE: AON)
is one of the biggest players in the insurance business and Pamela is one
of its biggest stars. Describe the relationship that the Newman Group has
with Aon (NYSE: AON).
NEWMAN: The Newman Group is Aon (NYSE: AON). Aon (NYSE: AON) is unity
(ph). We are a phrase, a tag line that I think clients like to use that we
are a team that is going to be on top of them, all over them, thinking
ahead of them, part of their management in making things happen for them.
HUDSON: This nearness has become a major part of the Newman team`s
success. Newman`s client list reads like a “Who`s Who” among America`s top
businesses, CEOs and entrepreneurs, including the Trump organization, the
“New York Times (NYSE: NYT)”, AIG, Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG) and even
NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. She represents numerous companies on the
“Fortune” 500 list, not bad for a person who hadn`t even thought about a
career in insurance back when she was studying at the University of
Michigan. However, the more she learned about it, the more she felt it
NEWMAN: It sounded like the perfect requirement of my skills, persuasion,
listening, getting people to follow somebody`s desire to get something done
and then getting it done. One thing people in our business like is after we
make a recommendation, we then have to deliver on it and make it happen.
HUDSON: Making things happen has become Newman`s trademark. She has the
ear of some of the most powerful CEOs in the world and she gives them the
peace of mind to be able to sleep well at night.
TRUMP: Pam has always just been there, when ever there was a problem,
there`s a flood, there`s a fire, there`s something, she`s always there and
her staff is always there, ready, willing and able. And I just find her to
be a very, very motivated person.
HUDSON: Donald Trump is one of Pamela`s largest clients.
TRUMP: She`s very big in the business and people will call and ask for
references and I give her the highest reference. You`re talking about
professionalism, you`re talking about you don`t want too much insurance, at
the same time you want to be properly insured. Lenders like to see
insurance, when you have lenders and when they see Pam is involved, they
feel much more comfortable.
JOHN CATSIMATIDIS, PRESIDENT & CEO, GRISTEDES: I found that she tried a
little harder, woke up earlier, went to bed later and just worked hard for
HUDSON: John Catsimatidis is a self made billionaire and the CEO of
Gristedes Corporation in New York City.
CATSIMATIDIS: I would definitely consider her an industry leader, say that
she`s right on the top of her, of the insurance industry. She has access
to the CEOs of almost every insurance company. And she`s a top gal.
HUDSON: At the heart of Newman`s success is an old school charm and
graciousness that forges strong relationships, a toughness that works hare
for clients to achieve what they want and a team approach with a skilled
group of hand-picked individuals that makes sure everything gets done.
REGINA DEGNAN, EXEC. VP, THE NEWMAN TEAM AT AON: She sets the bar high,
intentionally. She sets the bar high every day for herself and then
therefore expects those that are around her to have the same limits and the
same bar set up at the same level.
HUDSON: Regina Degnan first met Pamela 25 years ago.
DEGNAN: And we had the opportunity to come together at Monday morning
management meetings. And I would come in and be there prompt and on time,
not that she wasn`t, but she`d come in a little bit later and in a way that
stopped the room. And Pamela would come in and she just was elegant,
feminine, beautifully dressed, big hat, heels and I thought I have to get
to know this woman.
HUDSON: Today Degnan helps run the Newman team as its executive vice
president. Its a team with a broad variety of skills and expertise along
with a client retention rate of 98 percent.
TRUMP: I think the thing that I most like about Pamela is the people she
surrounds herself with. She has an amazing staff, an amazing group of
people, absolutely top notch.
NEWMAN IN MEETING TALKING TO HER TEAM: I want each of our clients to grow by 20 percent in 12 months. I think for a leader to have a vision and share that vision, is critical. I think for a leader to be dependable and reliable is a wonderful, wonderful
HUDSON: Can a leader make mistakes?
NEWMAN: Without question, a leader can make mistakes. And a leader isn`t
doing much if they aren`t making mistakes.
HUDSON: Newman joined the Chicago-based Aon (NYSE: AON) Corporation in
1993 after being personally recruited by legendary insurance man, Pat Ryan,
the founder of the company.
PATRICK G. RYAN, FOUNDER & RETIRED EXECUTIVE CHMN., AON CORP.: She`s a
visionary in our industry. She sees opportunity. She sees problems that
may be people haven`t even realized that they have the problem.
HUDSON: Ryan first met Newman in 1991 after a colleague continually raved
about her. Newman worked for insurance giant Marsh at the time and when
Marsh hired away 13 employees who were about to join Ryan`s company, he
recruited Newman in part to get even.
RYAN: So a few weeks after that, I went to an industry conference and a
senior person from her former employer said we want a truce. I thought she
must really be good. You take 13, I take one, you want a truce. I feel even
HUDSON: Newman quickly proved she was a very special talent.
RYAN: She just was, I`ll say relentless to pursue her goal. And that`s what
causes this make it happen and I`ve seen it for the 20 plus years that we
worked together and it`s unique.
DEGNAN: There`s nothing she doesn`t see. She`s an unbelievable keen skill
set. She identifies everyone`s top qualities and she has the ability to
bring those out. That`s what she does for me every day.
RYAN: I`ve got a little cliche that you`ve probably heard, the speed of the
leader is the speed of the team and because she travels at a very high
accelerated pace, and that moves everybody else with her.
HUDSON: What does an insurance broker do? An insurance broker serves as
an advocate for someone who needs the insurance, the client matching them
up with an underwriter, someone willing to take the risk. In short,
insurance is all about managing and pricing risk.
GREGORY C. CASE, PRESIDENT, CEO & DIR., AON CORP.: The risks in the world today are getting bigger and more complex than ever before. People care about them more than ever before and it’s not just traditional risk. It’s all the non-traditional risks – global warming, pandemic, identity theft, cyber risk. All these things fit into what makes life difficult for our clients.
HUDSON: Greg Case is the current CEO of Aon (NYSE: AON) Corporation.
CASE: And what Pamela does, is help clients understand, measure and take action to mitigate those risks. And that really is part transactional – incredibly important; part insurance broking – incredibly important; but it’s also evolving to be more of a risk advisor, to help clients understand how to take action to improve their business. And that’s what’s at the heart of what Pamela does and at the heart of what Aon does.
HUDSON: Have you come to a conclusion or a concise definition of what risk
NEWMAN: Risk is omnipresent.
HUDSON: And how do we deal with it?
NEWMAN: We first figure out what the risk could be. We review the
possibility that seems the most remote and then we seek ways first to
reduce it to mitigate it and then we transfer it. When a client says that
has never happened to us, that`s the point where you have to then come back
and say and it never will. In the meantime, we want to have a backup plan
in case it does.
HUDSON: There isn`t much that Newman does not think about and try to
foresee. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects to her job is that she
and her team have to learn about new businesses constantly. How does your
investigative work into a client`s business begin?
NEWMAN: We actually show up, that really is like Woody Allen`s comment of
99 percent of success is showing up. So when you visit a site, you see a
great deal. If it`s construction, you can see if there`s protection around
the elevator shaft. If it`s a manufacturer, you can see what the attitude
is of the workers. So showing up is a big key.
HUDSON: Are you a professional worrier?
NEWMAN: Oh, without question.
HUDSON: How does your family live with that?
NEWMAN: Supportively and they listen well and comment, and their words
are really helpful.
TEDDY NEWMAN, SON: Her expectation is to make you be who you want to be.
HUDSON: Teddy Newman is Pamela`s 29-year-old son. After working seven
years in the insurance business, he`s now in his first year of law school.
T. NEWMAN: You know, my sister and I always thought this was hilarious.
But I won faster if she would host the party when I was in high school and
most parents would say no, I don`t want the kid around things like that.
But her answer was no, I don`t want the liability.
HUDSON: Both Teddy and his older sister Romy, a sales executive, realized
early on their mom was a little different. What was it like going to
school with a mom like Pamela? Was she a room mom, for instance in school?
ROMY NEWMAN COSMACIUC, DAUGHTER: No. She wasn`t. And I think it`s so
interesting for me, because I`m just becoming a working mom and I think
about it a lot. My mom really, it must have been a very challenging time.
She was a pioneer. It was the mid 70s when she had me and she was very
productive for her to be at a senior level in her organization and be so
successful and I think the expectations of her at work were that she would
either be a successful professional or she would be a mom, but not both.
And I think she took, I don`t know if anybody has told the story, but she
took her office by surprise when she came in one day to let them know she
was pregnant and I think her mission was to find a way to continue her
success and her career, and also make time with her family. And so my whole
life I`ve been a part of her professional life.
HUDSON: Henry Kates is her husband of 16 years. They first met on a group
date when he found himself walking down Broadway in New York City, passing
up his friends in order to get closer to Newman.
HENRY KATES, HUSBAND: I moved up in line and started talking to her. And I
haven`t stopped talking to her since, all in a good way.
HUDSON: Do you remember that night Pamela?
NEWMAN: Very, very much as he described it and I liked the way he scooted
up with six people in a party walking up Broadway. He scooted up to get
next to me and then kept the conversation going. I liked that a lot.
HUDSON: What makes you curious about Pamela after these years together?
KATES: I`ve never seen her without any clothes on.
HUDSON VOICE: Still makes you laugh, doesn`t it?
NEWMAN: Every day.
HUDSON: one of Pamela`s most powerful skills is her ability to communicate
with people one on one. Consider the story of how she met Katherine Graham,
owner of the “Washington Post (NYSE: WPO)” in an elevator. The specifics
vary depending on who is telling the story. Some have the two women going
up, others have them going down. But one thing is certain, it was an
elevator pitch before that were elevator pitches.
DEGNAN: Pamela is 24-7, always an her game. And an example, one day coming
back from her brisk walk one morning, she quickly got in the elevator and
may have been even still on her phone, quite possible and there was a very
properly dressed woman on the elevator.
RYAN: And we got to the lobby, Pamela said you look so familiar to me, but
I can`t place you, but my name is Pamela Newman.
DEGNAN: And this lovely woman said, I`m Katherine Graham, nice to meet you.
RYAN: Only Pamela could do this. Pamela said, I`ve always wanted to get
into the “Washington Post (NYSE: WPO),” but I`ve never been able to get an
DEGNAN: And Pamela said, may I follow up with you today, Mrs. Graham? And
she so politely said, please do, Pamela. And that was probably 15, 16 years
ago, and the “Washington Post (NYSE: WPO)” is still a client today.
HUDSON: Certainly speaks to not only her tenacity but her ability to
connect with other powerful leaders, doesn`t it?
DEGNAN: She does it brilliantly and effortlessly.
RYAN: I don`t know of anybody else who can meet somebody on an elevator,
particularly somebody who is as important as Katherine Graham, and end up
with the business. And I think that story motivates her team, because they
know that she is out there, constantly with her creativity, developing
opportunity. And so people want to be on her team. They want to be an
important part of those opportunities.
HUDSON: Pamela believes that part of that ability to relate to people
quickly comes from growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
NEWMAN: My older brother Joel who grew up with me in Kalamazoo, he became a
heart surgeon and taught me the expression that minor surgery is somebody
else`s. Coming from Kalamazoo, I think has improved my ability to have an
inner ear that when that client discusses those issues, I know that it
sounds like minor surgery to everybody else, when he`s talking, but it
really matters to that man. It has consumed hours of sleeping time for
him. It is serious. And in Kalamazoo we know to hear it that way.
HUDSON: Newman grew up with solid middle America values as the daughter of
educators. Newman`s father was a college professor and dean of the business
school at Western Michigan University and her mother a high school teacher.
NEWMAN: In Kalamazoo, we had a radio announcer who would say every day,
life is good in Kalamazoo. And life was good in Kalamazoo. But it was a
R. NEWMAN: I think she really wanted to impress her father, who was a
business school professor. And that created an extraordinary determination
for her. Unfortunately, also her mother was very ill when she was a
teenager and eventually died when she was 19. And so that created a really
fierce independence in her. So I think those two things together made her
as passionate as she is and aspirational as she is to find great success.
NEWMAN: It was a big hole for both my brother and myself and certainly for
my father, to adjust to the center, the nexus of our existence leaving.
HUDSON: Another crushing loss happened on September 11, 2001. She was in
San Francisco on an annual business trip visiting a client and witnessed
the horror both on television and in the voice of a colleague who was on
the phone from the Aon (NYSE: AON) offices on the 105th floor of the south
tower of the World Trade Center when the second plane hit. One hundred
seventy six employees at Aon (NYSE: AON) lost their lives that day and
Pamela worked hard to help their families and the Aon (NYSE: AON)
KATES: She asked the company chairman what she could do, she sort
of became a self appointed ambassador for Aon (NYSE: AON), arranging
funerals, going to homes to visit, bringing food.
TRUMP: So it was a terrible time for the country and there were a lot of
people that reacted well and strongly and firmly and you sort of remember
that. And there were some people that really panicked and acted very poorly
and weak. And I can tell you Pam was very, very strong, very strong.
HUDSON: We visited the 9/11 memorial in New York City on a rainy day
shortly after the 10th anniversary of the attacks. It was the first time
Pamela had ever been there.
NEWMAN: The loss is always around for all of us.
HUDSON: What are the lasting lessons of leadership that came out of this
tragedy for you?
NEWMAN: That you have to move forward. It`s ironic that our name is Aon
(NYSE: AON), which is Gaelic for moving forward together. We found out we
really needed to do that, you have to do that, you have to keep putting one
foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.
HUDSON: How did the girl from Kalamazoo get to the 33rd floor?
NEWMAN: One step at a time and with a lot of fear and trepidation and
then taking a risk, and fulfilling it.
HUDSON: It`s another one of the dichotomies in Pamela`s life, a woman who
deals with risk for a living so successfully for her clients has constantly
taken her own risks, from moving to New York City to leaving a secure job
and starting a new company, to buying her apartment.
NEWMAN: Later on I had another mentor, a woman I bought my apartment from
here in New York City who I remain very close friends with this woman. Her
name is Irena Papps (ph). And when I felt that the apartment was out of my
reach, she leaned forward and she looked at me and locked eyes and said,
Pamela, my dear, in life one has to reach. Now, reach. And I leaped out
of that chair. I went right over to the bank and that was why I owned an
apartment that I certainly didn`t think I could afford.
HUDSON: The apartment has become more than a home. It`s an extension of
her business and a blending between her profession and her personal life.
Pamela has become known for hosting countless dinners and luncheons at her
apartment with clients and friends, promoting a continuous meeting of
minds, intellectual discussions and business.
R. NEWMAN: For my mom work isn`t work in the sense that we all think of
it. It`s her career. It brings her so much joy and I think she has such
high level of engagement with it.
HUDSON: Pamela`s push to make things happen, as she says, extends to many
charitable and community organizations. She tries to promote programs that
allow people the opportunity to become who they want to be. New York`s
Police Athletic League is especially close to Pamela`s heart.
NEWMAN: It`s about our whole eco system here in New York of keeping
people educated, keeping people going forward, keeping people, finding
opportunities that they didn`t know they would otherwise have.
HUDSON: Pamela is also very active with Stella Adler Studio of Acting, a
nonprofit school where students are immersed in the art of acting.
NEWMAN: What makes Stella Adler important is it works really hard at
getting people to understand who they are themselves.
HUDSON: Artistic director Tom Oppenheim first met Pamela in 2003 and she
soon joined their board of directors.
TOM OPPENHEIM, ARTISTIC DIR., STELLA ADLER STUDIO OF ACTING: When I`m with
her I always walk away bigger than I was when I approached. And I imagine
that people around her do.
R. NEWMAN: I think what`s extraordinary about my mom is she never, she
never thought I won`t be able to do this. There were no limits to the
success she thought she could find. She didn`t say, you know, I`m from
Kalamazoo, I can`t take New York by storm. One of the most important things
I`ve learned from her is that anything is possible. And she has an
extraordinary level of determination and she never takes no for an answer.
And so I think work for her is so enjoyable because she`s created a world
for herself that is the result of never giving up, never seeing limits to
what`s possible and really just aiming for the stars and reaching them.
HUDSON: What more is left for Pamela?
NEWMAN: I think that I am reminded of the visit I did at the wax museum
over here on 42nd Street where one of the singers had a sign over her head
which said I`m just getting started.
HUDSON: Just getting started. After decades of working her way up to the
top of her profession, becoming a recognized industry leader and mentor and
transforming the world of commercial insurance into an art and commerce
every day. I`m Tom Hudson. On behalf of the entire NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT
team, thanks for joining us.