Chapter Volunteer Profile
By Patrick Raleigh, Merrill Corporation, IASA Land O' Lakes Chapter Past President

Featured Volunteer: John Sweeney, Director of Financial Systems, The Republic Group, IASA Texas Chapter President

eInterpreter: What was the first IASA Chapter event you attended and what inspired you to go?
Sweeney: The first IASA Chapter event I went to was the 2008 Summer Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I was inspired to go because my company was searching for a new investment system software and two big vendors were going to be here. I was very impressed with the educational information presented at that conference.

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eInterpreter: What is the biggest benefit of having access to insurance education locally to you and your company?
Sweeney: The biggest benefit for me is the exposure to new trends and technology in the insurance industry. My role at Republic requires me to stay current with insurance accounting software and SaaS applications. Visiting all the exhibitors at the local and national conference allows me that opportunity.

eInterpreter: If money was no object...what would you love to do for a living?
Sweeney: If money were no object, I would love to be a snorkeling instructor in Hawaii or an island in the Caribbean. 

eInterpreter: Do you have any hobbies that could affect your personal insurance premiums? 
Sweeney: I love to scuba dive. About five years ago, I bought a life insurance policy and there it was! "Do you participate in any dangerous activities like sky diving, race car driving, or scuba diving?" Due to this policy, I have to limit my dives now to a depth of 70 feet. In most cases this is great because there is so much to see in that range; however, I will miss out on a few wreck dives. 

eInterpreter: Do you volunteer for any other organization other than the IASA? If so, which organization and why?
Sweeney: Due to my Irish heritage, I volunteer for an organization called the Southwest Celtic Music Association. The SCMA puts on one of the largest Irish festivals in the Southwest. It was formed to study, perform, promote and preserve traditional Celtic music, dance and culture in the Southwest. I have worked with the group as the Set-up Coordinator for over 25 years. Each year, myself and about 20 other volunteers design and build stages for the three day event. 

eInterpreter: Besides family and friends, what 3 things could you NOT live without?
Sweeney: Traveling, my woodworking shop, and my Ford F150 truck.

How did you first get started in the insurance industry?
Sweeney: I started out managing a five member team with the responsibility of researching, resolving, and monitoring aged suspense accounting items. The team eliminated 27,000 of them and implemented procedures to eliminate further accumulation of suspense items.

eInterpreter: What would you say to a colleague, or even a peer at another company, who has never attended an IASA Chapter event about getting involved?
Sweeney: The Texas Chapter is a very welcoming group. We always have a great lineup of current and relevant topics at our conferences. I would encourage them to join us and visit the outstanding exhibitors that support our event. In the last several years, we have strived to increase the participation of systems professionals in our conference by offering a wide variety of technical sessions.  

eInterpreter: What is your current job and what aspect of your position do you find most rewarding?
Sweeney: I’m currently the Director of Financial Systems for The Republic Group of Insurance Companies. I manage the automation of the General Ledger system along with various other accounting systems and functions. I’m also in charge of certain degrees of automation for various accounting users.  The most rewarding aspect of my duties is taking a task that took hours, if not days to produce results and automating the task into a process that runs in a fraction of the time with more accuracy and more controls. 

eInterpreter: So after a tough your release a good workout, a certain food, or something over ice?
Sweeney: A good work out is definitely one of my favorite releases after a tough day. After that work out, a good Italian dish with a glass of red wine is a great finish.  

Pictured: John Sweeney