Leading the Way

Colonial Life leaders named Columbia’s Best & Brightest

Two of Colonial Life’s young leaders are being recognized as Columbia’s Best & Brightest 35 and Under by Columbia (S.C.) Business Monthly magazine.

T.J. Clayton, assistant vice president in the Contact Center, and Sara Kennedy, a front end developer in Corporate Marketing, were chosen by the magazine for their contributions both to the company and to their community. They’ll be featured in the magazine’s September issue and recognized at an October banquet.

Clayton leads a team of about 225 customer service experts who are the face of Colonial Life to the world. Often, the people in Clayton’s organization are the only interactions Colonial Life customers will have with the company. The team handles 2 million inbound customer interactions each year.

Clayton and his wife Victoria adopted the first of their two sons from Charleston and have counseled many couples through the overwhelming process of adoption. He also serves on the board of directors for the Fatherhood & Male Achievement Conference, which draws more than 500 men and youth from across the Midlands to empower them to be strong fathers and men. He also frequently volunteers his time and skills at EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia.

“I believe the greatest results come through coaching and building stronger coaches,” Clayton said. “The Contact Center at Colonial Life is a breeding ground for top talent into the rest of the company, promoting approximately 50 to 60 people into other roles each year.”

Kennedy works with the User Experience team, contributing to the initiative to enable policyholders to file online claims and multiple projects to improve online marketing and brand presence. Her current focus is the development of Willow, an open source library of user interface components built to help Colonial Life’s development teams make websites that are accessible, consistent and brand compliant. A part of this work includes traveling to other office locations to consult with development teams and help them use Willow.

Away from her “day” job, Kennedy contributes to artistic and technical initiatives in Columbia. She co-owns a small business creating websites for local nonprofits and businesses and serves on the board of directors for The Jasper Project, which facilitates multi-disciplinary arts projects for emerging and established artists. She’s also a member of the Digital Art & Design Advisory Committee at the Center for Advanced Technical Studies.

“I believe technology combined with empathy is the most powerful tool we have,” Kennedy said. “With it, we can open doors for ourselves and others, which is why I decided to enter this field, focus on user experience, and teach others to evolve from tech consumers to creators.”

Clayton and Kennedy join other Colonial Life and Unum employees who have been recognized by the magazine. Last year’s Best & Brightest class included Amir Abdullah, Kevin Pillsbury and Shawn Scott.

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