With a mixture of celebration and sadness, the SLA has learned that former Chairman of the Board Tom Ciardello plans to retire at the end of 2020. When he steps away from his role as senior vice president with Worldwide Facilities in a few months, it will cap a 45-year career in the surplus lines industry.
Tom started his career in his native Boston with what is now Aon Boston and worked for, amongst others, Lexington, Tri-City, and Worldwide over his long career. He was one of the first people to join Tri-City, a start-up, and is remembered for playing a significant role in its growth and success, particularly in professional liability. Currently the head of Worldwide’s San Francisco and Seattle offices, he leads the company’s customer relationship strategy, and has also been pivotal in troubleshooting issues with carriers, coaching staff, and managing relationships and procurement with E&O and management liability underwriters with respect to Worldwide’s corporate insurance.
Tom served as chair for the SLA board in 2017, where his hallmarks were good fiscal stewardship, starting the board focus on the quality and care of SLA employees, and bringing young people into a graying industry. On all counts, he guided the SLA in a positive, proactive direction, setting the tone for ongoing budget discipline and planning that persists to this day, as well as numerous initiatives to help the industry identify and recruit young talent. The SLA is building relationships with college and university risk management departments, helping endow such programs, creating a “Next Generation” committee, and has started an internship program.
In addition to his chairmanship, Tom served on the SLA Board of Directors from 2014-18, serving as vice chair in 2016 and secretary/treasurer in 2015. Tom also served on the Stamping Committee from 2011-13 and 2016, the Audit Committee from 2016-18, and the Technology Committee in 2013. He chaired the Stamping Committee in 2016 and the Audit Committee in 2017.
“Tom has always brought tremendous energy and a hard-working, common-sense blue-collar mindset to our industry and brought the same qualities to our board,” said Benjamin J. McKay, the SLA’s CEO and Executive Director. “Whenever I brought a close question to Tom, he always asked me the same question: ‘Ben, what is the right thing to do? Do that.’ He wanted fiscal discipline, but always with a human side. He wanted what was best for our employees, and his goals were always to trim fat, not to cut muscle or bone. Under his guidance, we made smart fiscal choices without cutting a single employee or any vital member services. It was also characteristic of Tom that even near the end of his career, he was still looking to the future of the industry, and he was very keen on getting young people involved. He made our industry better, and he made the SLA better. We will miss him, but we are happy that he is embarking on a well-earned retirement, and we wish him all the best.”
Ciardello’s successors as chair say they will remember him fondly for all of his contributions to the industry and his personal characteristics.