My mother was a nurse and taught me how to pack my nostrils to stop the nosebleeds I often experienced as a teen. One night at a party I got one and went to the bathroom looking for gauze. All I found was tampons, so I used one of those instead. Soon my nose expanded to four times its normal size, and I thought it was going to explode. Needless to say, I became the talk of the party. But I learned that sometimes you have to be able to laugh at yourself.
“After 33 years of leadership,” says Michael Escobar, “the one thing I have learned is that you can never stop learning.”
As Assistant Vice President of Workforce and Business Solutions for Allstate, Escobar applies a lifetime of learning as he helps to create and implement strategies that foster higher levels of engagement, productivity, teamwork, innovation, accountability, and customer service. He leads an organization of 240 employees with a budget of approximately $28 million, and his group provides support to more than 8,000 employees across the USA and around the globe.
Jessica Rivera—who received the Eagle Award in 2008 and nominated Escobar for the honor this year—is the Assistant Vice President for Marketing Customer Experience at Allstate. “Mike has consistently modeled optimism, trust, and integrity,” explains Rivera. “He leads with courage and respect for all he comes in contact with.”
Escobar is also the executive sponsor for two employee network groups, the Professional Latino Allstate Network and the Allstate Women Information Network. He has served on Allstate’s Diversity Leadership Council, and, in 2009, he joined the Allstate Foundation Grant Committee.
“As a leader,” Escobar says, “I try to create an environment that allows people to grow, develop, and bring their personal passion to their work. Everyone is unique and different in their own ways, and the person with one year of experience is just as valuable as the person with 20 years.”
Continually distinguishing himself within his profession, Escobar was the recipient of Allstate’s most prestigious Chairman’s Quality Award, which recognizes individual outstanding performance and a high level of commitment to serving the customer. In 2006 Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology Magazine named him one of its Top 100 Hispanics in Technology and Business, and, in 2001, Hispanic Business Magazine included him in its list of Top Hispanics in Corporate America.
“My grandfather immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico in the early 1920s, coming from humble beginnings to make a better life for his family,” explains Escobar. “He worked many years, finally saving enough money to buy a small neighborhood grocery store. I helped out in the store, and my grandfather would always reinforce the value of hard work, commitment to family, and the importance of education.”
Years later, Escobar was working his way through college when he had an opportunity to drop out and take a lucrative job. But his grandfather advised him to get his education first, and Escobar has always valued that wisdom and often shares it with the high school students he mentors.
Escobar volunteers as a mentor for the Menttium 100 program in Chicago; serves on the board of directors of Casa Central, the largest Hispanic social services agency in the Midwest; and is a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Over the years, he has also coached children in various sports.
But he readily acknowledges that “Spending time with my family and helping them grow and develop is my greatest passion in life. I believe my purpose in life is to make a difference in the lives I touch. I try to bring that philosophy to everything I do.”
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2009 Eagle Award winner Michael Escobar.
The Leadership Promise at Allstate
As a company with a diverse population of employees, agents, and customers, our diversity strategy is about leveraging differences to gain a competitive advantage and creating a supportive and effective work environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Allstate tracks employee development plans and has succession plans to ensure that a diverse group of employees participate in and benefit from leadership and management training. Currently, Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos comprise 25 percent of Allstate’s workforce; more than 15 percent are managers and 9 percent are Allstate officers.
In 2008, Allstate earned recognition/awards from Diversity MBA Magazine, National Association of Female Executives, Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA), Hispanic Business Magazine, and Latina Style as a top company for executive leadership and diversity.