Protective LifeProtective Life chairman and CEO Johnny Johns told students in the combined MBA and undergraduate capstone class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” on November 8, 2016 that his company’s success is a case study in confronting brutal facts about an industry and designing a successful new strategy to thrive in the face of those facts.

Johns told students that the life insurance industry has become commoditized and has made it difficult for many consumers to buy its products, which they genuinely need. He described how many in the industry have lost their relationships with customers, by outsourcing distribution to third parties that force competition based largely on price.

In the face of that harsh external environment, Protective Life has developed and executed on a new strategy designed to exploit what the company’s core competency is: building strong relationships that help customers get the insurance they need. As an illustration, chief administrative officer Scott Adams and Chief Marketing Officer Frank Sottosanti described Protective’s new “affinity” distribution relationship with Costco, in which Costco’s 44 million members will be able to purchase term or universal life from Protective, at reasonable prices, using a simplified web-based platform.

Mr. Johns described the acquisition of Protective in early 2015 by the Japanese life insurer Dai-ichi Life Co., one of the largest insurers in the world. Protective is Dai-Ichi’s only operation in North America, and Protective accounts for approximately 20 percent of its parent’s total revenues. Protective Life remains headquartered in Birmingham, and about one-third of its 2,500 employees are at the company headquarters.

Also joining Mr. Johns, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Sattosanti from Protective was Vice President, Corporate Strategy Development David Perry.

A team of students who had studied the strategy of Protective Life in depth made a presentation to the Protective Life C-Suite team and made several recommendations including simplifying and engaging consumers on the company’s website.

Protective Life logoProtective Life is one of the oldest companies in Birmingham, having been established over 100 years ago. Dai-Ichi paid a 34 percent premium for Protective’s common stock at the time the acquisition was announced in June 2014.

The company and Dai-Ichi have been very generous to UAB in recent years, including a pledge toward the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (a joint venture of UAB and Southern Research Institute) and a pledge toward the new UAB football operations facility. Mr. Johns and his wife Nancy Dunlap, MD have personally made a significant commitment to the Pulmonary Faculty Development Endowment at the UAB School of Medicine. Mr. Johns is a member of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.

“Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by Collat School of Business professor Stephen Yoder, and features visits with CEOs of public or other large complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.

[Pictured left to right: Will Moore, Harry Harnett, Mr. Adams, Dave Medlock, Mr. Johns, Nick Bossalier, Mr. Perry]