In the C-Suite with Ann Schnure
Macy’s VP of risk-claims describes where and why she grew to love the fast-paced world of claims.
By Taylor Smith
Where did you grow up?
In the corner of Kansas and Oklahoma at a place named Wyandotte, Oklahoma. I moved to Ohio for college and stayed. My dad was a missionary and minister. He was a chaplain to a government-run Native American boarding school. My mom got her degree in her 40s and became an ordained minister, as well. She was a hospice chaplain and then provided respite care. I have four siblings, of which I’m the second youngest.
How did you find your way to a career in claims management?
I originally wanted to be a teacher. I went to Wilmington College in Ohio and earned a degree in education, but I never taught. Instead, I was offered a job in restaurant management that paid much more than teaching, so I did that for a number of years. I worked a lot of hours. Ultimately, when I moved to Safeco to be a claims trainee, I took a pay cut, but I figured out that my hourly wage went way up because I’d been working so many hours before.
We have had other chief claims officers come from restaurant management backgrounds. How was your prior career helpful to you in the claims industry?
When I managed a restaurant, I was learning constantly. I learned about customer service, profits and losses, inventory control, and logistics—just about everything you could think of. Claims is similar in that you’re always learning and taking in new information.
One specific skill that I learned was how to make decisions quickly, which is something you have to have in order to be successful in that business. You simply don’t have time to go back and forth on issues. Customers and employees wanted decisions right away, and that was a very good learned skill that has stayed with me throughout my career.
What attributes of a career in claims resolution would you highlight to attract new professionals to the industry?
There are a lot of them. You get to use analytic decision-making, you investigate, and then you get to go sell your results. It’s hugely satisfying. There also is so much that you can learn in so many areas. Good claims people like to dig deep and have good common sense. It’s a fast-paced environment, and the workdays fly by so quickly because you’re busy doing interesting things all day. When I started claims, I had no idea that I’d like it—but in fact, I love it. I find it a hugely satisfying career. It requires really smart people with good communication skills. Claims professionals get to handle a wide variety of things each day, so they have to be able to multitask and handle disruptions.
What role does your department play in your organization?
In our situation, we handle only claims for our own company, so we know and care about our brand. We are in risk management and try not to call it “claims” because we are managing the risks and accidents of Macy’s customers and employees.
We always reinforce with our staff that when employees have accidents, they are our coworkers and we need to treat them with the respect that you would show a colleague. When we are handling a customer incident, we start with the fact that this is a customer and we want her to come back and be a customer of Macy’s again. We want her experience with us to be a positive and respectful one. In that sense, we have a unique opportunity in a situation to make something good come from something unexpected or bad.
Do you have any hobbies?
After my children were grown I took up painting, which I really enjoy. I’ve taken many lessons, gone to workshops, and set up a studio at home. Currently, I like painting the environment around me. Lately, I’ve also been spending a lot of time making pottery. I’m always doing something and I like learning new things; I don’t sit still. My husband knows that when we go to an art show, I don’t just comment on how beautiful something is—I wonder how they made it and if I can do it, too.