One of the largest life insurance companies in the world has announced a change at the top.

The board of New York Life Insurance Company, New York, has picked Theodore Mathas, 40, to take over from Seymour Sternberg, 64, when Sternberg steps down as chief executive officer July 1.

Sternberg has been chairman and CEO of New York Life since April 1997.

Sternberg will continue to be the chairman of New York Life during a transition period after he gives up the CEO post, the company says.

Mathas, who has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of Virginia, began working for New York Life in 1995, as an officer in the asset management department. He has been chief operating officer of the company since May 2006 and president of the company since June 2007.

Mathas will keep the title of president once he is CEO, New York Life says.