Power Players: A Promise, Not A Product
Paul Amos II can sum up his passions with three words: A duck, a Dawg and Duke. The duck refers to the popular advertising icon for Aflac, the insurance giant and family business where Amos serves as president of Aflac and COO of Aflac U.S. The Dawg and Duke?
“My parents went to the University of Georgia, and I love Bulldog football,” he says. “But I went to Duke University for my undergrad and fell in love with Duke basketball.”
If the combination seems curious, that’s not surprising. Curiosity has been Amos’s modus operandi from the get go. “My mom said I incessantly asked questions when I was a kid,” he says. “Most meetings with me take longer than they should because I’m still always asking questions.”
Curiosity has served Amos well, first as a full-time member of the company’s sales force and now as the company president. “The way we sell, the consultive approach to selling, is a needs-based assessment,” he says. “We find out what our customer’s need or problem is, then we show them how to solve the problem.”
Solving the problem of what he would do when he grew up wasn’t an issue for Amos. “I always had a choice of what I’d do and where I’d work,” he says. “My father did an excellent job of leading me but not pressuring me.” After graduating from high school, Amos left Columbus for Duke, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He has a law degree from Tulane University, and his master’s degree in business administration is from Emory University. “I did the tour of private southern universities,” he jokes.
Amos worked in the Washington, D.C., offices of a merger and acquisitions law firm before joining Aflac in 2002.
Knowing that someday he’d be in a position of corporate leadership, Amos first worked in the field as a full-time, commissioned salesman. “It’s very difficult to tell people how to do something you haven’t done yourself,” he says. “Aflac starts with policies being sold. It was great experience for me to work in the sales force and get to know our sales people and our customers.” He loved the job, was named state sales coordinator for Aflac’s Georgia-North region, and led the team to become the No. 1 operation in the state.
Amos returned to Columbus in 2005 when he was asked to take the job of executive vice president of U.S. operations. “I knew it would happen eventually, but they just upped the timetable a little bit,” he says. In February 2006, Amos was named Aflac COO and in January 2007 was promoted to president of Aflac U.S.
His work takes him all over the country to meet with sales teams and leaders. He also travels with some frequency to Japan, where Aflac Japan insures approximately one in four Japanese households.
He is proud of the money the company saves its shareholders by keeping its headquarters where Aflac began, in Columbus. “I think of our expense management as a hallmark of our success,” he says. “Besides, being in Colum-bus makes us kind of a surprise.”
Of paramount importance to Amos is corporate ethics and transparency. “We have a duty to be open with our shareholders and even our policyholders because they need to know that we’re going to be there when they need us,” he says. “We’re selling a promise, not a product. I think one reason we’ve performed so well is because our behavior has been predictable.”
Equally predictable is Aflac’s generosity and influence as a corporate citizen with respect to philanthropy and community involvement. In addition to service on the boards of the Win-ship Cancer Institute at Emory University and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southwest Georgia, Amos is listed on the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) registry and personally funded an NMDP Registry drive in the Aflac sales force. The drive resulted in bone marrow matches and subsequent bone marrow donations that saved two lives.
Other than hanging out with his family, especially his three young sons, Amos’s busy life leaves little time for hobbies. “I like growing things for the future,” he says. “Right now I’m growing my boys, growing the company. There will be plenty of time in the future for me to relax and explore other things.”