DEFINITION of J. Harold Chandler

A former rising star in the banking and insurance sectors, J. Harold Chandler received a reputation as a sinking ship in 2002 when his under performing company Unum Provident failed to meet earnings expectations. As a result, Chandler was named the third worst executive in the United States by Forbes magazine. Soon after, Unum Provident fired Chandler in 2003 with a severance package of $17 million, Today, Chandler is the COO for Univers Workplace Benefits.

BREAKING DOWN J. Harold Chandler

J. Harold Chandler was born in 1949 in Belton, South Carolina. He attended Wofford College for his undergraduate BA, then earned an MBA at the University of South Carolina. Chandler then took a job with Citizens and Southern Bank of North Carolina, and later attended the Advanced Management program at Harvard University.

In 1990, Chandler’s bank merged with Sovran, a provider of IT solutions, and the new company was named C&S/Sovran. Chandler was promoted to the position of executive VP of corporate marketing and soon sent to Washington, D.C. to become President of the bank.  Within a year, the company then merged with NCNB and Chandler was named President of the entire Mid-Atlantic Banking Group for the company, but soon heard the call of another industry sector – insurance.

In 1993, Chandler became president and CEO of Provident Life and Accident Company of America. Though Chandler had a healthy background in banking, Chandler seemed a strange choice for an insurance company, but he worked to bring in new management, streamlined the company, and changed its name to Provident Companies. Chandler helped return the company to profitability through changes such as the acquisitions of the Paul Revere Corporation and in 1997 acquired Genex, a case management provider.

In 1998, Chandler began pursuing a merger between his company and the Unum Corporation, the nation’s largest group-disability insurance company. The merger was successful and the new company was called Unum/Provident.  

But the move spelled disaster for Chandler when financial results failed to meet the expectations and industry analysts and shareholders alike, and in May of 2002, Chandler was named the third worst CEO in the country. Opposition mounted and by March of 2003, Chandler was released from Unum/Provident with a $17 million severance package.

Today, Chandler is the COO of Univers Workplace Benefits, a company that manages benefits employment packages for other companies.