Scott Brener, Senior Vice President and General Counsel
SFM is the leading workers' compensation insurer in the Midwest, serving businesses of all sizes and types for more than 30 years.
What makes a good business leader?
A good leader possesses three primary attributes – intelligence, vision and compassion. Intelligence often drives the vision. However, personal compassion helps drive the buy-in. Leaders often neglect personal compassion resulting in good ideas sitting on a desk.
What book are you reading right now?
I am currently reading “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson, a work of nonfiction premised on Roosevelt’s original Ambassador to Germany and his experience during the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. I was an international history and politics major at Georgetown, so I really enjoy this genre of literature.
Who inspires you the most? Why?
My three boys most clearly inspire me. At times, looking at the world through the eyes of a child seems to take the peripheral waste out of the equation.
You are chair of the Minnesota Chamber’s Transportation Policy Committee. What are the benefits for you personally and for your company?
I have gained a clearer understanding of our transportation needs as well as the complexities facing the political agenda. As to SFM, we have a history in participating within public conversations to assist in creating a better workplace and home for our employees and policyholders. My participation as Transportation chair aids in realizing SFM’s objective.
Grassroots is an important part of advancing the Minnesota Chamber’s priorities at the Capitol. Do you have any advice, tips for business leaders on how they can connect with their legislators and other policymakers?
Business leaders can and should connect with their legislators and policymakers by, simply, reaching out and making an effort. I served in three gubernatorial administrations and in a variety of high-level capacities. It always struck me quite odd that most business leaders have zero contact with their political system. I assume they believe it to be futile, which is a significant misconception. As a former state commissioner, I would have relished the opportunity to get some “real” perspective on issue development as opposed to the often manufactured perspective of the lobby corps.
What prompted you to join SFM?
Honestly, a couple of things. At the time of hire, I was Governor Pawlenty’s Commissioner of Labor where, among other things, I took regulatory control over the state’s workers’ compensation system. SFM was and still is the largest work comp writer in Minnesota, so I enjoyed a close relationship with them. SFM was always branded as a positive example within our work comp community. I wanted to help continue that perspective. Secondly, I had three boys entering private school, so the pay raise was appreciated!
What do you enjoy most about Minnesota?
Its educated population base and its embrace of family value.
What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?
My favorite pastime is traveling the world over. I have always enjoyed social interaction and culture. Travel allows one to expand social circles as well as the cultural values that permeate those environments. In fact, the Brener family of five just returned from the rivers, mountains and vineyards of Chile and Argentina where we whitewater rafted three rivers, fly fished, tangoed and tasted wine!