A CEO Video Q&A with Scott Stephenson, Chairman, President & CEO, Verisk Analytics
One Year Later: Reflecting on Business Roundtable’s Updated Statement on the Purpose of a Corporate — Part 1
How do you balance short-term profits with long-term stakeholder value?
We’re here because of our customers. And if our customers do not see us investing to provide them a steady stream of innovation over a long period of time, they will move away from us — and they should, in favor of someone else who is thinking about their best long-term interest. The feedback that we get from our investors is that they want to see that we’re investing to build a business that is sustainable, in which we meet all of our commitments to the communities around us, including being good stewards of the environment and supporting the development of the rising generation.
In the past year, what actions are you most proud of?
In the COVID-19 moment, the thing that I am most proud of is that we have been able to provide continuous and uninterrupted service and value to our customers. Because of all of the work we have done to create ourselves as a digital environment, when we rotated to virtual operations, we expected that it would work well — and it has. So, not a surprise, but I am pleased and proud of all of the work that we did to enable us to maintain continuous operations.
I am also very proud of the fact that we have safeguarded the wellbeing and the security of our people. I’ve had the opportunity to work with our Board of Directors to come up with a 14-point program for making Verisk a better version of itself as it relates to racial equity. We have work to do — no question about it — but I am very proud of the way that our board has really taken on this issue with purpose and a great deal of thought.
What Verisk innovations are you most excited about? How do they deliver for your stakeholders?
In the area of innovation (which is so important for us at Verisk), in many ways, the reason our customers work with us is, I would say, equally what we can do for them today, but the promise of what we can do for them tomorrow. On the innovation front, we are always a very good version of ourselves if we create what we call at Verisk, “platformed analytic environments.” These environments which allow a massive amount of information to be rendered in such a way that great decisions can be made. That is us at our best. One very recent example of that has been a platform that we call Lens, which works in the energy vertical. It is so clear in this disruptive moment for the energy industry the difference that that platform is making for our customers. I’m very proud, very excited by that.
One Year Later: Reflecting on Business Roundtable’s Updated Statement on the Purpose of a Corporate — Part 2
How has the role of CEO changed in the past few years? How do you think it will change in the future?
I think over the last five to 10 years, the role of the CEO has modified. To add one feature that I think was not there so much, one of the new responsibilities is to be yet more visible as the builder and then even the embodiment of the culture of the company. And this relates to the kinds of longer-term commitments the company makes as well — all of it inside the context of the value set the company represents. Our teammates at Verisk are highly aware of what we’re thinking about and what we’re talking about, and they want to see what is it that the company cares about. They want to see it stated, and they want to see it lived out. So, culture has always mattered a lot, but I think that the CEO, more than ever, is both the identified leader and the embodiment of the culture that the company runs on.
During this challenging time, where do you draw inspiration?
I have been highly inspired by all of my teammates at Verisk. The degree of resiliency that people have shown is just absolutely remarkable. Essentially, there was a day when we had our 10,000-person community go into remote mode. Overnight, basically, folks’ homes, for many of our people, became simultaneously a place for dedicated, full-time work and a place of education for those who have school-age kids who were now returning to home. I know what stress this has represented for quite a few folks. Just watching our people respond to this and adapt — and to do so with a willing, can-do attitude. And then the performance that has come out of that — our productivity in many ways is greater than it ever was — it’s just a remarkable testimony to the resilience, the adaptability, and the commitment of our people, and I find that hugely inspirational.