Alumni Profile: Phil Kenny, EMBA '11

Author: Tim Ponisciak

Phil Kenny, EMBA 2011 grad, shares a little bit of his experience working for his family’s construction business, having a career in corporate insurance, and what made his Notre Dame experience special. 

Please provide one to two sentences on your career/industry: Currently, I work for Willis Towers Watson, a global insurance brokerage with office locations in 120 countries. My primary role is working with Midwest construction and real estate firms on structuring their corporate insurance programs: project specific insurance, liability, executive risk, including coverages such as directors & officers, cyber and fiduciary.

Phil Kenny

How did you get in this industry: Well, I was a 23 year old trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my career. My father suggested through a family friend that I give corporate insurance a try due to my background and skill set. I spent three years working for a national brokerage firm out of Chicago and really enjoyed it. However, I was fourth generation of a family-owned construction company and felt intrigued at giving the family business a shot so left to pursue that. Ironically, our family sold the business after nearly 90 years in early 2013 and I returned to the insurance brokerage world after eight years out of it. So, this is not your typical career path but I’m glad to be back where I started.

Why did you choose ND for your graduate degree? I had a good friend go through the Executive Program a few years prior to when I started and he spoke highly of the faculty and curriculum. I sat in on a few classes in Chicago and was very impressed at the quality of the professors, students and the intriguing discussions taking place in the classroom. Obviously, the Notre Dame brand and reputation speaks for itself. I felt it was the opportunity of a lifetime to obtain a degree from such a prestigious institution.

How have you utilized your graduate degree in your career? I feel the experience I gained through the Executive Program has given me the foundation to be successful in my career. There are many principles I learned in my time there specifically in areas such as leadership, management and financial modeling that I still apply within my profession on a daily basis.

How do you stay connected to Notre Dame and Mendoza as an alum? Being a part of the Graduate Business Alumni Board has been a good start. I had the opportunity to get involved a few years after graduation and felt compelled to act and stay connected to the school in any way possible. Also, Chicago is a tremendous center for the Notre Dame network with all the alumni and various opportunities to get involved through the local club and other outlets that help promote the ND connectivity.

What is your favorite memory from your time in your graduate business program? The friendships that were built and continue today. You spend so much time with your classmates while dealing with the challenge of trying to balance school, career and family. So, you really get to know everyone on a personal level and connect in ways you didn’t expect when the program started. Also, the quality of the discussions in the classroom was unparalleled. I learned a tremendous amount by simply having the opportunity to listen to some of the brightest minds in the corporate world share their insight on so many different topics.