Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer
Stuart is a collaborative leader with a passion for shaping the future of business through harmonizing empathy, insight, and technology. As Westfield’s Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer, Stuart leads 1848 Ventures. Stuart is responsible for accelerating the likelihood Westfield realizes its vision by building an innovation portfolio and leading the formulation of business strategies that stimulate customer growth, improve financial performance, and generate risk insight. Stuart is an alum of the University of Michigan where he earned a dual Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in History and Economics. He lives in Akron, Ohio with his wife and daughter.
What is the overall purpose for 1848 Ventures as it relates to Westfield?
We established 1848 Ventures to expand Westfield’s business by developing new products and business models beyond conventional property and casualty insurance by understanding and addressing the broader risks business owners face. Property and casualty insurance provides business owners with a level of assurance in the event certain episodic risks impact their business. With 1848 Ventures, we aspire to help business owners prosper by helping them maximize the everyday opportunities and risks they face.
What energizes you about this work?
I get excited about the opportunity to learn new things and love doing so through interacting with other people. Everything we are doing in 1848 Ventures is anchored on the team and every individual being committed to learning and growing. The ideation sessions we conduct at various stages of the venture development journey are invigorating given the opportunity they present to learn about our customers, their employees, their businesses, their challenges, and their desires. Plus, I draw tremendous energy from the experience of collaborating with a diverse group of colleagues and partners that share a commitment to empathy, optimism, grit, and a growth mindset.
What’s in your secret toolbox (no longer a secret)?
I am a student of improvisational comedy in which all of what is performed is unplanned and created spontaneously by the performers. Everything the audience sees is created collaboratively by the performers as a scene unfolds in real-time. I studied improvisational comedy for several years. I have grown tremendously as a leader from practicing what improv performers do best – staying in the moment, listening, and building upon the ideas of others. I now get to improvise every day by collaborating with my colleagues and our partners to create delightful, meaningful, and valuable experiences for customers in new and unexpected ways.