An interview with W Marston “Marty” Becker, chairman and CEO of Max Capital Group.
Choose four adjectives to describe yourself.
I don’t generally like to talk about myself, but I would hope that people who know me would think of me as hard-working, having good judgment, being fair and having high expectations – both of myself and of others.
Which historical figure do you most admire and why?
As a history buff, I’ve long admired John Adams, the second US president after George Washington. Adams worked tirelessly to orchestrate the political compromises that made possible the founding of the United States of America, and did so without seeking accolades.
Who in this industry do you most admire and why?
I have tremendous admiration for Dick Smith, the former president of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Dick truly connected internally with Chubb employees, and externally with Chubb’s agents, to foster a culture of excellence.
Outside of this industry what issue are you most passionate about?
I care deeply about education, public and community service, and my home state of West Virginia.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
The personal qualities that I admire most in others, and that I aspire to in my own life, are a commitment to serve and a selflessness in doing so – be it on the job, at home, or in the community.
What qualities do you most dislike in other people?
As my comment about what I most admire might suggest, the thing I like least in others – and that happily I see very rarely among the people I know and work with – is self-admiration. The moment one begins to think too highly of oneself, he or she is skating on thin ice, personally and professionally. As the old proverb says, “Pride goeth before a fall.”
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started in this industry?
I could have benefitted from a greater awareness of the value of networking.
“The moment one begins to think too highly of oneself, he or she is skating on thin ice, personally and professionally
What was the last thing that completely surprised you?
The Giants winning the Super Bowl! [A last-minute touchdown sealed a 17-14 win for the New York Giants over New England in Super Bowl XLII in Arizona in February]
How do you unwind at the end of the day?
In this business, travel is inevitable. Whenever I can, I like to wrap up my day with my wife enjoying a nice dinner, good conversation, seeing friends or reading a good book.
What motivates you on a Monday morning?
I very much enjoy the competitive challenge of “playing the game” and helping an enterprise and its people grow and succeed.
Whose job would you most like to have and why?
I love the job at Max and it will keep me challenged for some time. That said, I wouldn’t mind having the job of either Ben Bernanke [American economist and current chairman of the board of governors of the United States Federal Reserve] or Hank Paulson [United States treasury secretary]. They both have difficult issues to deal with, day in and day out, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from developing and implementing solutions to those issues must be enormous. I am not expecting an invitation anytime soon.
What is your biggest regret?
That I didn’t have the opportunity to work in a global environment much sooner.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to have two terrific sons and a wonderful wife.
What factors have enabled you to get where you are today?
Nothing unique, really. I believe I’ve benefited from a lot of hard work, from a certain amount of business experience and acumen, from an ability to communicate, work well with and motivate people, from a sense of urgency, strong sense of values and from a desire and determination to achieve my personal and professional goals. Also, never discount the value of a little luck!