Column: Roger's Soapbox

All Bow to the Colonel

By: | July 27, 2017 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Hank Greenberg joined the Continental Casualty Company in 1952, three days after returning from fighting in Korea. He has continued to work in the industry for the subsequent 65 years.

Brian Duperreault, who now holds Greenberg’s old job as CEO of AIG, went into insurance in 1973 after deciding against becoming a professor of mathematics. He has only ever worked in the insurance industry.


It might take a lifetime’s experience of insurance to run AIG, but not everyone labors in the fields of insurance for life. It’s a profession, like journalism, that can be learned before starting a career in something different. Equally, others work in non-related disciplines before making the move into insurance.

All of which means that a surprisingly disparate group of people have worked in insurance during their careers.

For example: you might think that representing Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia trial – which cost him his freedom for 27 years – would be the highlight of a man’s career. But Joel Joffe’s more lasting achievement was to establish an insurance company.

He founded Hambro Life Assurance, which became Allied Dunbar and was finally bought by Zurich. Allied Dunbar was a big deal in the UK, and not just because it counted me among its insureds. Joffe became Lord Joffe of Liddington, a name of which P.G. Wodehouse would have been proud.

Tom Clancy worked as an insurance broker before writing his first novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” in 1984. Anne Rice, who wrote “Interview with the Vampire,” processed insurance claims early in her career. Franz Kafka worked for most of his life in insurance claims.

A man called Sanders must qualify as the best-known insurance man in history, although he too made his name in another discipline.

Brian O’Hara, who built XL Capital (now XL Catlin) from the ground up, was a Deadhead, a follower of the Grateful Dead. Mock not: the pooled experience served O’Hara more than well enough.

Charles Ives was an innovative American composer who earned international fame. He was among the first to combine American music, European art music and church music.

His techniques foreshadowed many musical innovations of the 20th century. Ives spent almost his entire career in insurance, coming up with creative ways to structure life-insurance packages for the wealthy.

At the other end of the musical scale, John Peel became a household name in Britain for championing alternative music for almost 40 years, starting in 1967. He earlier sold crop insurance in Texas.

A man called Sanders must qualify as the best-known insurance man in history, although he too made his name in another discipline.


As a youth, Sanders sold insurance for Prudential Life Insurance in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Success led quickly to an executive position. Sanders was then fired for insubordination, which makes you like him all the more. He was, presumably, more subordinate in his next insurance company, in Louisville, Kentucky.

In the 1930s, Sanders invented what was called “home meal replacement,” selling complete meals to busy, time-strapped families.

Using what he’d learned in insurance, Harland Sanders earned rather more than chicken-feed. He died in 1980, but lives on as a logo: the genial, white-haired Colonel who appears on buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

What other insurance executive will ever claim that degree of fame? &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Janet Sheiner, VP of risk management and real estate at AMN Healthcare Services Inc., sees innovation as an answer to fast-evolving and emerging risks.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

As a kid, bagging groceries. My first job out of school, part-time temp secretary.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Risk management picks you; you don’t necessarily pick it. I came into it from a regulatory compliance angle. There’s a natural evolution because a lot of your compliance activities also have the effect of managing your risk.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


There’s much benefit to grounding strategic planning in an ERM framework. That’s a great innovation in the industry, to have more emphasis on ERM. I also think that risk management thought leaders are casting themselves more as enablers of business, not deterrents, a move in the right direction.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Justified or not, risk management functions are often viewed as the “Department of No.” We’ve worked hard to cultivate a reputation as the “Department of Maybe,” so partners across the organization see us as business enablers. That reputation has meant entertaining some pretty crazy ideas, but our willingness to try and find a way to “yes” tempered with good risk management has made all the difference.

Janet Sheiner, VP, Risk Management & Real Estate, AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, of course!  America’s Finest City has the infrastructure, Convention Center, hotels, airport and public transportation — plus you can’t beat our great weather! The restaurant scene is great, not to mention those beautiful coastal views.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

The emergence of risk management as a distinct profession, with four-year degree programs and specific academic curriculum. Now I have people on my team who say their goal is to be a risk manager. I said before that risk management picks you, but we’re getting to a point where people pick it.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?


The commercial insurance market’s ability to innovate to meet customer demand. Businesses need to innovate to stay relevant, and the commercial market needs to innovate with us.  Carriers have to be willing to take on more risk and potentially take a loss to meet the unique and evolving risks companies are facing.

R&I: Of which insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion?

Beazley. They have been an outstanding partner to AMN. They are responsive, flexible and reasonable.  They have evolved with us. They have an appreciation for risk management practices we’ve organically woven into our business, and by extension, this makes them more comfortable with taking on new risks with us.

R&I: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. health care industry and why?

I am very optimistic about the health care industry. We have an aging population with burgeoning health care needs, coupled with a decreasing supply of health care providers — that means we have to get smarter about how we manage health care. There’s a lot of opportunity for thought leaders to fill that gap.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Professionally, AMN Healthcare General Counsel, Denise Jackson, has enabled me to do the best work I’ve ever done, and better than I thought I could do.  Personally, my husband Andrew, a second-grade teacher, who has a way of putting things into a human perspective.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

In my early 20s, I set a goal for the “corner office.” I achieved that when I became vice president.  I received a ‘Values in Practice’ award for trust at AMN. The nomination came from team members I work with every day, and I was incredibly humbled and honored.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The noir genre, so anything by Raymond Chandler in books. For movies,  “Double Indemnity,” the 1944 Billy Wilder classic, with insurance at the heart of it!

R&I: What is your favorite drink?


Clean water. Check out for how to help people enjoy clean, safe water.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant at which you’ve eaten?

Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

China. See favorite restaurant above. This restaurant had been open for 100 years in that location. It didn’t exactly have an “A” rating, and it was probably not a place most risk managers would go to.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Eating that duck at Liqun!

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Dr. Seuss who, in response to a 1954 report in Life magazine, worked to reduce illiteracy among school children by making children’s books more interesting. His work continues to educate and entertain children worldwide.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They’re not really sure!

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]