Raymond J. Manista’s work days are “predictably unpredictable,” and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Manista, general counsel and secretary of Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee since 2008, says, “It’s the unpredictable part that keeps things interesting.
“Particularly since 2008, we’ve been living in an economy that has been difficult,” Manista said, “and the environment has been fluid in terms of legislative and regulatory proposals, and other developments that could potentially impact the financial services industry and our business.
“Part of our job as lawyers is to make sure we’re scanning that environment, and keeping tabs on what matters and helping people understand the potential impacts.”
That’s on top of Manista’s customary roles of advising the management, leading the company’s law department of 70 lawyers and some 70 support staff, and supporting the board of directors and handling other, related corporate governance matters.
Northwestern Mutual offers clients and policyholders an array of financial services, including insurance and investment products and advisory services.
Manista is proud to add that the business has survived these tough times exceptionally well. “It remains one of only two, I believe, in our industry that has the top financial strength ratings from the four major ratings agencies. Sales also are strong.”
Manista joined Northwestern Mutual in 1998 after eight years as a commercial litigator at Godfrey & Kahn SC in Milwaukee.
One of the most attractive features of the company, from Manista’s standpoint, is its willingness to present new challenges to its employees.
He started as assistant general counsel, managing both insurance and investment-related litigation matters involving the company. From March 2001 through 2003, he was director of planning and projects. Then in 2004 and 2005, Manista served as Northwestern Mutual’s vice president-litigation counsel, which involved oversight of all litigation matters involving Northwestern Mutual and its affiliated entities. And, in 2006, he was appointed vice president-corporate planning, where he was responsible for oversight of the company’s strategy development and planning.
“One way that Northwestern Mutual grows and tests people is by rotating them into different roles.” Manista explained. “We rotate people to different roles — people who show promise — and I was the beneficiary of that system.”