By Carla Short
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Jeff Manuel came to WVU from Martinsburg, WV and a family of Industrial Engineers. His uncle was an IE professor at WVU and his brother had just graduated with an IE degree. However, the Pride of West Virginia was his biggest influence. Jeff had dreamed of marching in the drumline since the sixth grade and was able to fulfill that dream for four years.
While an undergraduate, Jeff had two summer internships at General Electric. In fact, Jeff and a classmate, Luis Gonzalez (https://wvuieleaders.com/profiles/luis-gonzalez/), were instrumental in bringing emphasis on the IE department’s internship program. When Jeff graduated, GE made Jeff an offer to join its Manufacturing Management Leadership Program (MMP). The program involved four different assignments in two separate business units and locations: Power Systems in Greenville, SC and Electrical Distribution & Control in Plainville, CT. One of Jeff’s roles in the Electrical Distribution & Control business included extensive environmental health and safety work at GE facilities in Puerto Rico.
His work in Puerto Rico led to a breakthrough in Jeff’s career. Zurich was GE’s insurer and GE and Zurich formed a joint venture for administering and insuring customer warranty and service contract claims. Jeff was named Sr. Vice President of Customer Operations. “I had spent 6 years working in technical and managerial roles within manufacturing and started to feel like I was getting tunnel vision. I wanted to get more diverse experience and get closer to the end customer and this was an exciting opportunity to do that.” Jeff had P/L responsibility for a $140 million business with over 300 employees. He was 29.
Zurich decided to divest the business a few years later and Jeff was recruited by a former GE colleague to join ServicePower as a Senior V.P. leading a nationwide home service and installation business unit, again with P/L responsibility.
Jeff returned to the insurance industry when he became General Manager for Service and later Executive V.P. of National Accounts for an independent service and warranty administrator (now owned by A.I.G.). Jeff’s career has continued in the insurance industry with senior executive positions with HomeServe USA and CNA Insurance. At CNA Jeff currently has responsibility for the $4 billion Warranty and Alternative Risks business unit.
Up to this point, Jeff has moved 9 times in his career and lived in 8 cities. “I didn’t plan this for my career path but decided early on to be flexible and open to opportunities outside of my comfort zone. I certainly could not have advanced in my career this way without the support of my wife and her stability through our numerous moves”, Jeff says.
Jeff has two items of advice for students:
• “Prepare yourself for international experiences and working in global teams. In my current role, I’m in Asia and Europe several times a year. Even our new hires do extensive international travel.”
• “You will be asked to move as your career progresses, especially within larger global companies. You just have to learn to accept this as a fact.”
While the insurance industry is not a typical career choice for engineers, Jeff has shown that the flexibility and versatility of an IE degree can be utilized in virtually any type of business.
Jeff is currently responsible for global underwriting, program development, and operations for CNA’s Warranty and Alternative Risks business unit. The division writes and administers a wide range of insurance and non-insurance coverage for consumer and commercial use products in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Prior to joining CNA in 2014, Jeff held senior leadership roles in the consumer services and warranty industry including Vice President of OEM Warranty Programs & Account Management at HomeServe USA and Executive Vice President of National Accounts for Service Net Warranty LLC (now a division of AIG Warranty).
Jeff began his career at the General Electric Company and graduated from GE’s Manufacturing Management Program (MMP). He spent 11 years working in various progressive leadership positions including manufacturing operations, quality control, supply chain management, service network development and warranty management, culminating in his role as Senior Vice President of GE-Zurich Warranty Management, Inc.
Jeff holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University and is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.