It’s still a blast after all these years. I work with some of the most talented people in the industry who also happen to be some of the most fun to be around.
Where did you grow up?
In Garden City, Long Island, the youngest of four kids. My dad was an Air Force pilot. His last military post was commanding officer at Mitchel Air Force Base.
Who were your childhood heroes?
My hero today was my hero then—my dad. He was a veteran of three wars. He was a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot in World War II, a participant in the D-Day invasion, a recipient of the Bronze Star and a multiple recipient of the Purple Heart. He was also a POW in Korea and an intelligence officer in French Indochina before the Vietnam War. He experienced unimaginable wartime tragedy. I think that can crush you or make you a great, wise soul. His experiences gave him a tremendous perspective—he valued every moment and saw every day as a gift.
You have a law degree from St. John’s. Why law school?
After college, I followed my buddies to work on Wall Street. I quickly realized it wasn’t for me. My dad encouraged me to pursue a law degree, which he said would be great mental discipline.
You moved around in your career. What’s kept you at NFP for 15 years?
I just love it. It’s still a blast after all these years. I work with some of the most talented people in the industry who also happen to be some of the most fun to be around. We work hard and play hard, and we love the daily challenge of continually improving the work environment for our employees and our client service models. For the team at NFP, it’s personal. We put our heart and soul into making NFP great, and that keeps us all coming back for more every day.
Tell me a little about your business.
NFP is the fifth-largest global benefits insurance broker with more than $1 billion in revenue. In the past four years, we’ve more than tripled the size of our property-casualty business. We also operate an independent broker-dealer and perhaps the most sophisticated life insurance business in the industry.
You also sit on the advisory board at the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University, your alma mater. Why?
I enjoy helping shape the strategic vision of the Dolan School to ensure we remain competitive, but most of all, I like to work with students. I try to hire a couple of Fairfield interns every year. As my career progresses, I get great satisfaction from helping people along. My dad taught me you can’t be a leader if you’re focused on yourself. Mentoring students and young professionals is a real passion of mine.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I try to give as much time to my family as possible. In addition to Trish, the love of my life, I’ve got four great kids—three boys and a girl. My daughter, Ava, loves to skate, sing and act, so we try to get out on the ice with her and see as many Broadway shows together as we can. My two older boys, John and Will, are in college. When I’m lucky, I get to take them out to dinner, and, on a special occasion, I get them out on the golf course. My youngest boy, Joe, is all about sports and skiing. We love skiing together—he even waits for me on the slopes every once in a while. My wife and I also love hiking with our dogs.
Who was your most influential business mentor?
I’d have to name two. Peter Demmerle, a partner at one of my first law firms, who sadly passed away of ALS before his time, and Jessica Bibliowicz, whom I succeeded as CEO of NFP. Peter was a guy who impressed upon me the importance of saying yes and accepting new challenges even if my first inclination is to shy away. He taught me that every change in my career is an opportunity to learn more and excel. Jessica taught me the importance of humility and remaining professional, respectful and composed under fire.
What is the best advice you ever got?
My dad gave me three great bits of advice: Never get in bed with the wrong people; to make difficult decisions in the face of uncertain consequences that others won’t want to make; and, most important, “happy wife, happy life.”
Last question: What gives you your leader’s edge?
My ability to identify and collaborate with talented people to build an aligned team in pursuit of a common vision.
The Hammond File
Hometown: Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.
Family: Wife, Patricia (married 25 years); John Connor, 21; Will, 19; Joseph, 14; Ava Grace, 11.
Last Book Read: Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown
Wheels: Audi RS 7 and 1979 International Harvester Scout
Boat: Boston Whaler Vantage 270 (“The thing hauls ass.”)