Business Excellence Awards
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On any given day, Theresa Molloy may hold a managers’ meeting with a division in Hong Kong, a conference on new accounting standards in Brazil and monitor employee training in Singapore.
As the vice president and controller at FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial-property insurers, Molloy oversees more than 35 accounting professionals from across the globe. She is responsible for coordinating and consolidating the company’s financial statements and managing the internal and external financial reporting.
“I am a pretty motivated person,” said Molloy, a Rhode Island native. “I want to set a good example for my team and have them be motivated as well.”
A 24-year veteran of the firm, Molloy is also the only female vice president within FM Global’s finance department, which encompasses 300 business professionals across four continents. In addition, she reached the vice president level faster than any other female within FM Global’s corporate headquarters. Molloy called the designation “exciting,” but hopes others follow in her footsteps.
“The insurance industry is definitely a male-dominated industry,” said Molloy. “I have the opportunity to be a role model for other women.”
Within her department, Molloy hopes to help train more women within the business. Females now make up a much larger percentage of college graduates entering the work force.
“In the finance department, we really do try to develop women,” she said. Of the six employees who directly report to Molloy, two are women.
“And there are more in the financial department that are moving up the corporate ladder very quickly. It’s just a matter of time before there will be other female vice presidents,” she said.
As a mother of two girls, one of the main challenges of Molloy’s job is to balance home and work. She makes it her “personal mission” to be home by 7 p.m. each night for a sit-down, family dinner.
That was not always easy, especially when Molloy took on major projects for the company. In 1999, she oversaw the merger of five separate companies and more than 20 additional subsidiaries that formed FM Global. Jeff Burchill, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said Molloy’s tremendous leadership ability shined when she consolidated all of the financial reporting for the different entities and initiated a universal financial-reporting practice within the entire company.
That job was by no means easy, but Molloy said it was a good opportunity for her to grow as a leader.
“It was like coaching a group of professional baseball players from all different teams and making them play together,” said Molloy. “Except it lasted a lot longer than nine innings.”
When working with divisions in different countries and continents, Molloy must take into account varying time zones, languages, cultural preferences and accounting rules. It can be overwhelming, and strategic plans are easily misunderstood in transit. Molloy said she tried to counter possible mishaps during the company merger by listening closely to her foreign counterparts.
Once FM Global successfully merged, Molloy continued to cut out corporate inefficiencies by creating a master, internal and interactive community among the company’s finance divisions, called the Finance Manager Network. Through the network, finance professionals in France and in China can share information about improved accounting methods, enhance professional development or practice public speaking within one another. Molloy encouraged her staff to create online training courses to help acclimate new managers to the company and to support ongoing development among veteran employees.
The network helped to create a positive work environment, even when many of the employees were halfway around the world.
But that was not the only way Molloy has trained future hopefuls. In 2004, she developed FM Global’s corporate-finance internship program, aimed at providing college-level students the experience to work in a high-paced finance department.
“That’s my real pride and joy,” said Molloy. “We’re trying to nurture upcoming finance stars, and we’re trying to attract local talent from within Rhode Island.”
Each year, the interns pair with experienced financial managers and delve into accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management, investment accounting, taxes and internal audit.
“This is a real-world setting. It’s very different from learning from a book,” said Molloy. “At the end of the day, we want these students to see FM Global as a career choice. It’s a great way to keep Rhode Island graduates in-state.”
Burchill called Molloy “a calming force in a demanding environment. Leaders, like [her], help FM Global be an oasis of stability during tough economic times, which adds tremendous value for our policyholders.” •