Meet the Chairman’s Circle – An interview with John J. Webb

Besides what is on LinkedIn, where did it all begin?

I was born and raised in my earlier years in Brooklyn, New York. Then, I finished high school in Upstate New York (Rochester). Still, after all these years, I remain a big city guy at heart!

Since you are not from Memphis, when did you move here and why?

My trek to Memphis was not a straight shot from New York.  I have lived in nine states, plus Canada (including twice in both New York City and Los Angeles). I was relocated here from Atlanta in 2020 by Cigna to be the president of Tri-South for the company.

Can you share some insight into your early career path?

I graduated as a mechanical engineer from Michigan State University. So the first chapter of my career was in aerospace, specifically working on the space shuttle program. I then received my MBA from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, which facilitated my transition from a technical discipline to a business orientation in healthcare. Since that career change, people clearly found me more interesting at parties when I was in aerospace, as opposed to now when I am in insurance!

Please provide an at-a-glance look at Cigna, a major employer in Memphis.

Cigna Healthcare is a health benefits provider that advocates for better health through every stage of life. We guide our customers by empowering them with the information and insights they need to make the best choices for improving their health and vitality. Our products and services include an integrated suite of health services such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits and others.

Key Points

    • 2,100 full-time employees in the Memphis area
    • 70,000 employees globally for The Cigna Group, which is made up of Cigna Healthcare and Evernorth Health Services
    • More than 164 million customers relationships
    • 2.2 million relationships with healthcare and mental health providers, clinics and facilities
    • #15 on the 2023 Fortune 500 list of biggest U.S. companies by revenue 

Anything you wish to share about your company’s commitment to moving Memphis forward? 

Cigna Healthcare is a mission-driven company, which entails leaving a positive impact on the communities we serve. This includes creating a better environment for all people, whether they are clients or not. We want health and quality of life to be attainable for everyone. Thus we support health-related issues and environmental challenges like food insecurity and health access throughout the Tri-South (Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi) geography.  We also help support the YMCA and its many youth activities that focus on wellness.

Any personal public service or community involvement you’d like to share?

When I arrived, I told people that I was willing to help… and the City of Memphis has taken me up on it!  So I am on the boards of the Greater Memphis Chamber, New Memphis, Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC), Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum (MMBC) and the University of Memphis Board of Visitors. In addition, I am involved in a long-term initiative on the West Coast that uses entrepreneurship to help the homeless start their own businesses and new lives. This is one of the most impactful programs I have ever been associated with.

What most excites you about Memphis?

Unlimited potential!!!  My best contribution is to now help Memphis dream bigger! I want this city to achieve what it deserves and orchestrate the support of the right types of organizations/people across Tennessee who can make it happen. That aligns directly with the goals of the Chairman’s Circle.

How about a peek inside your family?

I am the oldest of three children. My two sisters, whom I am very close to, live in Las Vegas and Copenhagen, Denmark. I am also the proud father of a 26-year-old daughter who lives in the D.C. area and a just-turned-25-year-old son who lives in Orlando. Both are making positive inroads on their career journeys. Meanwhile, I have an adopted rescue dog that I named Memphis who brings me joy every day in my new city!

Who is the most influential person in your life and best advice you were ever given?

My mother was clearly the biggest influence in my life. She stressed education as a road to success. So I attribute all credit to her for what I have achieved. Yet her greatest advice was to always be a good person, no matter what. As a tribute to her, I will always adhere to that philosophy.

Now, for the fun stuff…

Any favorite pastime, hobbies or ways to unwind?

I played a lot of sports in my youth, so now I love both watching and attending sporting events. I even had the pleasure of going to the Super Bowl in Vegas this year, which was a supernova for me! I also like to read, so I subscribe to about 12 different magazines a month for diversity of thought/info. And, although I do not have much spare time, I enjoy hitting the golf course. Finally, I need to admit that I am a rare breed of man who likes clothes and shopping. There are a few of us in the Chamber, and we know who we are!

Favorite vacation spot/where do you like to travel?

Hawaii… it is a paradise on earth. And I am indeed a traveling man. So, I love going to Europe, Asia, Caribbean and more. I actually have a large map with pins across the globe marking the many places I’ve been. Not bad for a kid who never got to fly on a plane until he was in college.

Do you have a favorite book or movie and why?

My favorite movie is Boyz in the Hood.  It is a very close depiction of what I experienced in the younger stage of my life in the inner city. So I have the framed movie poster in my house as a remembrance of where I am from and why I need to help others in difficult living environments.

Anything else you’d like to add?

While I have lived in many places, I must say that I have found Memphis to be the most welcoming of them all. For that, I am eternally grateful to be an honorary Memphian.