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How to Lead a Company Through a Spin Off and IPO

April 18, 2017, 4:22 PM UTC

When Rodney Martin was tapped to be CEO, he knew it wasn’t going to be a cushy job. He was put in charge of Voya Financial that was just about to be spun off from its Dutch parent, ING Group. He was suddenly in charge of an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange and the challenge of coming up with a corporate strategy to compete against much bigger competitors like MetLife and Prudential Financial.

Voya began its new life with 13 million customers, but Martin tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib, “We were in essence a seven thousand person start up.”

It was Martin’s first CEO job of a huge, public enterprise. He figured out the best way to lead the new company was to reach out to employees through conversations in hallways and big town hall meetings—and to listen to them. “I was very visible. Very consistent. Very transparent, ” he recalls. What was the key to his personable leadership style? As the son of a university professor, Martin says, “It is part of my upbringing. It’s part of who I am. It’s part probably of my DNA.”