Q&A With Kevin McCord

Interviewer: What made you want to go into financial services?

Kevin McCord: I kind of entered financial services by mistake. I wanted some sort of job in international business upon graduation from business school. Liberty Mutual had a great corporate development program that I was lucky enough to be invited to join and to get an offer for. In this role, I was being training under the tutelage of my corporate sponsor, the President of Liberty Mutual’s international division, Liberty International. At the time, it really didn’t matter what industry I joined just as long as I had the international opportunities, and Liberty was the perfect job for me at the perfect time in my career.

Interviewer: You have a lot of executive and management experience. Can you describe your leadership style?

Kevin McCord: Leadership style: I like to get straight to the point with people for maximum efficiency. While I care about people I work for, with, and whom work for me, we can conduct our small talk after the meeting and after the matter at hand is taken care of.

I prefer to let people work independently and let them determine the best way for them to achieve the stated objectives in order to meet my set deadlines. I have learned over the years that people respond best to managers when they are granted authority over their work which allows them to take ownership of that work. As long as they get me what I need when I want it, I am happy.

With respect to teams, we must respect all members of a team. I prefer individuals from many different backgrounds who can provided a unique perspective and valuable input. I also do not play politics and put meritocracy and ability at the top of my list of qualities I admire in colleagues, people who work for me, and leaders I report to.

Interviewer: What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career? 

Kevin McCord: Challenges: It all starts with my teaching experience (I taught middle and high school for two years immediately after undergrad) where I worked in a small rural school that did not have much money or resources. We teachers had to learn to make do with what we had. In the Peace Corps down in Nicaragua, I further learned how to be adaptable and flexible for the same reasons but to a different extreme. When I, the schools I worked with, and/or fellow teachers or colleagues did not have the funds to buy plastic bags to plant tree saplings in, we wandered the streets picking up trash and saving the plastic bags for tree-sapling use. When we did not have funds to buy seeds for the types of trees we wanted to plant, we wandered the town neighborhoods and collected seeds that had fallen from the local trees.

It is these traits of adaptability and flexibility that have helped me overcome obstacles in the corporate world. Dealing with team members from vastly different cultures can sometime present its own challenges; however, my experiences in the Peace Corps taught me how to deal with people of different cultures and how to mediate and intervene when personal conflict arises.

Interviewer: You have overseas work experience. What lessons have you learned from this? *Have you traveled recreationally as well?

Kevin McCord: Skills I have learned are flexibility, adaptability, in developing countries always travel with a roll of toilet paper!, perseverance, someone always has it worse than you and someone always has it better.

I have done tons of personal travel. While in the Peace Corps, I tried to expand my knowledge of Central America by visiting all the geopolitical countries of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama). I later visited Belize on a Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church mission trip as well as Costa Rica – but I had been to Costa Rica multiple times before that as well. Have been to various countries in Europe as well as South America too.

Interviewer: You were a US Peace Corps volunteer. Can you describe some of your favorite memories? How does this experience inform your perspective today?

Kevin McCord: Wow, what a question. The big thing about the Peace Corps is the host-country nationals that you meet and bond with – the friendships that we formed. I lived with a family with a 70-year-old matriarch and an 80-year-old patriarch. They had various adult children who would come and go as they pleased, multiple grandchildren who would do the same. We had a pet turtle that lived in the open courtyard of the house and would just wander in and out of the courtyard, avocado trees that, in the middle of the night, would fall on our slanted tin roof, and then you would hear it roll off, about a second would go by, and then you would hear it hit the ground.

Other memories: Laguna de Apollo near my training town of Nandasmo, Masaya, the active volcanoes, a buddy of mine who came to visit for a week and our hike through the rainforest up a volcano where we got attacked by monkeys (we never reached the top), getting evacuated by the US Army in a Blackhawk helicopter during Hurricane Mitch (I returned a few days to help with the recovery). The coffee plantations in the mountains just north of my town, taking my bike up to the border with Honduras and riding 10 miles downhill all the way back into town.

Interviewer: Do you do any other volunteer work?

Kevin McCord: I have taken a break from this lately but have done multiple mission trips with my church over the past decade: the US Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Costa Rica, and Belize – have tons of pictures that we could post from these trips.

Interviewer: You’ve been playing golf from a young age. What first sparked your interest?

Kevin McCord: Cannot remember ever NOT having a golf club. My grandfather was a big golfer and my dad still is one. I used to use a cut-off sandwedge to dig holes in the yard and try to get snakes and other animals. In about fifth grade, I realized that I could hit a golf ball pretty well when I was in the backyard with a buddy, hit one well that went into the neighbor’s yard and broke a window. That was the best and most pure shot I had ever hit. When I didn’t have quite the power or size to make it in baseball, I decided that golf was the way to go.

Interviewer: Can you go into some detail about playing competitively nowadays?

Kevin McCord: Play in various Metropolitan Golf Association (MGA; the New York City area association) tournaments, such as qualifying tournaments for the MGA mid-am (there are some scores posted on the web for this), the Long Island Golf Association mid-am, the Bethpage State Park club championship. Have also dabbled in the GolfWeek Amateur tour for a few years. Could say much more about golf in the NYC area.