40 Under 40 Class of 2008

William Trudeau Jr.

Age 39: Chief Operating Officer, Insurance Center of New England

William Trudeau always has a game plan on the job, but that’s not why he recently bought a baseball glove.

“I think I might need to practice, because I’m starting to coach a softball team of 7- and 8-year-old girls,” he said — not surprising, since both of his daughters play. “It’s a new adventure for me.”

Trudeau has made his entire career an adventure, especially considering that he “kind of found it by accident,” joining the Insurance Center of New England in West Springfield two months after graduating in 1990 from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. He trained in a specialty program in insurance for banks, all the while thinking he wanted to be in a sales-based career. “I had certain preconceived ideas about the insurance industry. But while I went into the program thinking it would be for practice, I left thinking I might like it.”

Trudeau eventually became the Insurance Center’s vice president of commercial lines and then COO, leaving a path of innovation in his wake; 10 years ago, he launched the company’s Group Benefits Division, which he now heads. In 2001, he became a partner with the firm.

“I wear a few different hats,” he said. “I’m involved in taking care of my clients and a book of personal and commercial accounts, and I also oversee our commercial insurance department, as well as working with the sales team on our direction and goals.

“I like being able to learn about a wide variety of businesses and meet interesting people,” he added. “I get to have a pretty intimate view of dozens of different businesses and the people who run them. A lot of jobs don’t allow that much variety.”

While making a name for himself in business, Trudeau has also given back to the community, taking leadership positions with organizations including the Red Cross, First Congregational Church of East Longmeadow, Junior Achievement, and the Exchange Club of Springfield.

“I’ve always enjoyed being involved, and contributing with different projects and ideas,” he said. “It has kind of become a part of what I do.”

But right now, none is quite as important as teaching young girls how to swing, catch, and throw. “That’s priceless, when the kids are involved,” he said. “They won’t forget that sort of thing.”

Joseph Bednar