PORTLAND – Kevin McCarthy listens to rock ‘n’ roll by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and U2 when he drops the top of his red convertible.

When the top’s up, he’s more likely to listen to jazz.

Music is one passion of 56-year-old McCarthy, the Portland-based chief of Unum US, the domestic division of publicly traded insurance company Unum Group.

McCarthy was raised in Worcester, Mass. His father worked as a bricklayer and his mother was a homemaker. He attended Holy Name High School, playing point guard on the basketball team and shortstop in baseball.

McCarthy attended the University of Southern Maine in the 1970s and studied finance and accounting partly because his parents urged him to study a field that would lead to a good job.

McCarthy started working at Unum in 1976 when he took a summer internship.

After school, he joined the company full time and became a product manager in 1980 and second vice president of life and medical products in 1982. From 1984 to 1987, McCarthy was chief operating officer of General Health Inc., and in 1987 he returned to Unum.

He held other vice president positions before joining Unum’s Japan division. He was named president of Unum Japan in 1996 and chairman and senior vice president of international operations in 1998.

McCarthy, who was named president and CEO of Unum US in 2007, attributes his professional success partly to luck.

“There are lots of good workers and lots of talented people,” he said. “You have to be lucky enough to click into the right slot at the right time.”

McCarthy lives in Falmouth with his wife, and he has five children: Brendan is a 15-year-old sophomore and tennis player at Falmouth High School; Katie, 19, is a sophomore studying physical therapy and playing soccer at Simmons College in Boston; Sean, 21, lives in Gray, 29-year-old Kelly teaches middle school near Orlando, Fla.; and Dan, 32, lives in Portland and works at Bull Moose.

McCarthy said he has no plans to retire, noting that he’ll stay as long as the company will have him.

But when he does retire, he knows how he’ll spend his time.

“I’d like to play a little more golf and I’d like to learn how to sail,” McCarthy said. “It feels silly to live in Maine, right on the water, and not have a sailboat.”

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:

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