ISU Alum Named Fortune's Businessperson of the Year | WGLT

ISU Alum Named Fortune's Businessperson of the Year

Dec 11, 2018

An Illinois State University grad who rose through the ranks of insurer Progressive has become the first woman named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year.

Progressive CEO Tricia Griffith earned the No. 1 spot on Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year list for 2018. There are four women in the Top 10.

Fortune noted that Griffith is one of just 24 female Fortune 500 chief executives. It praised her leadership for turning the 81-year-old Ohio-based company into a “growth powerhouse” that’s become the third largest U.S. auto insurer behind State Farm and Geico.

Griffith earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing at ISU. She began her career at Progressive as a claims representative in 1988. After moving around the company, she became CEO in 2016. 

During a visit earlier this year to ISU’s College of Business, Griffith talked about her rise through the ranks at Progressive. Griffith said she always was open to moving into new parts of the company, including her first C-suite job running Progressive’s HR unit. That was a “stretch job” for Griffith, she said, but she got the opportunity thanks to sponsors and mentors who knew she could do it. 

“I wouldn’t have gone for that HR job had other people not said you should really go for this,” Griffith told GLT. “To me, it’s about being confident in yourself, and having advocates and people that basically sponsor you that give you those opportunities. I feel like that’s my job to do that for other women inside Progressive and outside of Progressive.”

Griffith delivered the keynote address at ISU’s Business Week in February.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.