Meet Vince Trosino, State Farm executive

Justin Runquist

Rewind back to 1962, and Vince Trosino was the typical Villanova senior.

He was in love, anxious about the working world and especially uncertain about his future.

Today, Trosino is one of Villanova’s most successful alumni. He’s the president, vice chairman of the board and chief operating officer of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Trosino has come a long way since his days at Villanova. He graduated as a psychology major, with concentrations in sociology, English and philosophy. Great areas of study for him, but not the cream of the job market. “Everyone seemed to be looking for accountants and engineers, but not me,” he said.

At that point, State Farm wasn’t even on his radar screen.

“Several people were advising me to take a look at State Farm,” he said. “Believe it or not, I originally thought State Farm was a country prison I was being sent to.”

But Trosino was a good fit with State Farm from the beginning. “Their people were very sincere and honest,” he said. “I knew nothing about insurance then. Accountants were earning much more than me also. But because the people and the job treated me with respect, I wanted to do an outstanding job for them. I gave 110 percent every day.”

He entered their 53-week training program, had a successful experience and the rest is history.

His willingness to be flexible and open to new challenges has propelled him far. Following a series of promotions in Pennsylvania and positions at the Bloomington and Costa Mesa, CA offices, he was named regional vice president of the former Northeastern Regional Office – covering New York, New Jersey and New England – in 1981.

By 1986, he joined the President’s Office at Bloomington – otherwise known as the Chairman’s Council today – as vice president. He was then elected executive vice president in 1987, chief operating officer in 1991, vice chairman of the board in 1994 and president in 1998.

Moving up the corporate ladder was not easy. His job demanded that he travel often, experiment as a manager, take thoughtful risks and do lots of research. His corporate demands are similar, but good leadership is what makes him successful. “I sell promises, basically,” Trosino said. “I need to be there for customers when they need help. I need to stand behind the promises I make.”

Trosino said he also needs to believe in his people. As a chief operating officer, he plays an integral role in mobilizing people for potential dangers, such as a hurricane. “During Hurricane Andrew,” he said, “We had to alert over 2,000 people across the country. We had to move massive amounts of resources to minimize the damage. We had to find where our customers homes were and take proper precautions.”

Trosino essentially acts as the chief-of-staff of the automobile insurance division. He is responsible for overall insurance and day-to-day operations. He is the marshall of resources, which demands knowledge of marketing, sales, systems and zones. Trosino also focuses on strategic thinking and development of enterprise-wide initiatives and continues to stress the importance of leadership development and succession planning for the organization. He is also very involved in State Farm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and currently chairs the Diversity Advisory Group.

Trosino prides himself on his company’s ability to sell and to uphold promises. He says that State Farm’s core values -centered around integrity, mutual trust and character – have guided and inspired him from his first position with the company to the executive positions he holds today.

“I’m proud to be a part of this business,” Trosino said. “I believe we are not only an important piece of the country’s economic system, but we are doing a lot to benefit society and mankind.”

He has seen and experienced plenty of change during his tenure with State Farm, but he said his philosophy has remained the same.

“Hard work, positive attitude, ability and a strong ethical baseline are values I strive to maintain in the approach to my work,” he said.

Others have apparently recognized these qualities in Trosino. Illinois Governor Jim Edgar recently appointed him to the State Judicial Inquiry Board. Trosino was also selected to serve on the board and executive committee of the American Judicature Society. In 2001, he was the recipient of the 2001 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Humanitarian of the Year Award. He was also named to the board of directors of The National Italian American Foundation in 2002.

A quality education allowed him to build his foundation. That is why he continues to back to Villanova by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the College of Commerce & Finance. He also taught human resources management at one time for Illinois State University, where he received his master’s degree. Trosino also served on the Illinois State University Foundation Board.

“Education and continuing education is the key to success,” Trosino said. “Just when you think you’ve had enough, you realize the value of continuing to educate yourself.”

Education truly is important. Remember. Trosino started his journey at Villanova.