Risk Management Education

Butler’s Risk Business

A university risk management program establishes a student-run captive; and in the process succeeds in impressing incumbent risk management professionals.
By: | July 27, 2017 • 7 min read

Butler University’s bomb-sniffing dog Marcus is being insured by a student-run captive.

Butler University’s Zach Finn possesses such a passion for risk management that steam practically emanates from the top of his head when he talks about it.

So when the former J.M. Smucker Co. risk manager got the chance to work with a university risk management program, he jumped at the chance to begin teaching and innovating.

And one of his dreams was to guide his students in developing a student-run captive.

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“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to show not only students what they could do with a risk management degree but show the industry what students could do with a risk management degree,” said Finn, the director of the Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program at Butler.

The program was launched with funding from 1947 Butler graduate William Davey, who enjoyed a long career with the Indiana Department of Insurance, including being appointed Insurance Commissioner in 1955.

The captive, which underwrites risks for Butler University’s liberal arts college, came into being in April, is licensed in Bermuda, and will become operational this month.

But the direct roots of the program date back to 2015, when Finn sat down with Michael M. Bill, the founder of MJ Insurance, to begin planning.

“I spent a lot of time in my career sitting down with people saying, ‘This is what this means, this is how this could be a benefit to the organization,’ ” Finn said.

Finn built a class within Butler’s risk management curriculum charged with putting together a feasibility study on the captive formation. He then hand-selected students from the risk management program to work on the study.

Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program, Butler University

One recruit was Kentucky native Brad Weber, who was brought to Butler to play football and is now a risk professional, having landed a job as a risk analyst with the Moog Corporation after graduating from Butler’s risk management program in May.

“Butler University as a whole is all about experiential learning and it sounded like a great way to learn about insurance and not just from a textbook,” Weber said.

“Plus there was the opportunity to take a trip to whatever domicile was selected,” Weber said.

“That ended up being Bermuda, which was a really cool trip.”

After the class wrote its feasibility study and vetted it with the captive program’s professional advisory board, Finn and his students sent out inquiries to 10 domiciles.

“To their credit, Vermont and Bermuda were the only domiciles that responded,” Finn said.

Akilah Wilson, an assistant director of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, recalls her department being contacted by Butler University in September.

“Their original e-mail provided an Insurance Captive Brochure which outlined their initial proposal and demonstrated their commitment to establishing a captive. It was very well constructed from the outset,” she said.

“From what I gathered during the initial conversation, the students were very independent in producing their feasibility study on domiciles,” she said.

“They also led the first question and answer session. This demonstrated that they were leading the charge, with the help of their professors, of course.”

“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to show not only students what they could do with a risk management degree but show the industry what students could do with a risk management degree.” — Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program, Butler University

Don Ortegel, Aon Chicago managing director and a member of the school’s advisory board, also recalls being impressed with the Butler students when his team presented their RFP in the effort to win the job of captive manager.

“It was very clear from the process that the students were very engaged, very thoughtful,” he said.

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“They not only reviewed the RFP we had to present to them, they made the recommendation for the final decision,” Ortegel said.

What is now known as the MJ Student-Run Insurance Company Ltd. was established with a cross-class aggregate limit of $265,000 and will insure science equipment, books and fine arts collections in Butler University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We are insuring the first $150,000 of all of the scheduled fine arts and inland marine. Travelers will sit in excess,” Finn said.

Part of the students’ risk management work is performing loss control tours of the college’s library and its observatory.

As part of their analysis they determined that the college’s 38-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope was underinsured, by about $1 million. They also found out that they could automate closure of the observatory’s dome to close it remotely in the event of inclement weather.

Butler University’s student-run captive is insuring the university’s telescope; and conducting observatory safety evaluations.

“If the power goes out [in a storm] and somebody has to go over and manually shut the dome and it doesn’t happen, we’re out $2 million,” Finn said.

“That’s a $2,000 fix,” he said.

The captive is also insuring the university’s bomb-sniffing dog, Marcus. In an era when the alarming threat of terror attacks is on almost everyone’s minds, Finn thinks he has hit on a way to not only teach students about terrorism, but use risk management to fight it.

Finn and his Butler student team are developing a line of duty endorsement to the policy covering Marcus. The endorsement will allow for two dogs to rise up and take Marcus’ place should he ever be lost in the line of duty.

“Once we have developed this endorsement, we are going to float it out to the entire insurance industry. We’re going to ask that any carrier that insures a police dog or a bomb-sniffing dog include this line of duty endorsement.”

Butler grad Brad Weber said the experience he picked up in establishing a student-run captive in Bermuda proved invaluable in the job interview process.

Don Ortegel, managing director, Aon

“I would say what was really valuable about the class, more than what we learned which was specific to the captive industry, were project management skills,” Weber said.

“I think my education did a lot for me,” he said.

The position Weber is in at Moog required two to three years’ experience.

“Which I didn’t have coming right out of school,” Weber said.

“I was able to write a cover letter talking about how I would be able to handle all of the other requirements,” he said.

“And why my education gave me the experience required for a job like this,” he said.

Aon’s Ortegel said the Butler University accomplishment of establishing a student-run captive is a game changer.

“This isn’t necessarily about education,” he said.

“This is about the way we bring students or talent to the industry.”

As a result of the experience of helping to develop a captive at Butler, Ortegel said he and his teammates at Aon have been approached by other university risk management programs.

“We have had multiple inquiries and multiple conversations as a result of this,” he said.

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Given that only the domiciles of Vermont and Bermuda responded to the initial inquiries from the Butler team — although other domiciles later entered discussions — one might surmise that many didn’t take the Butler students seriously.

One who had no problem taking the Butler risk management students seriously was Bermuda’s Akilah Wilson, who holds a risk management degree from Philadelphia’s Temple University.

“Being a graduate of Temple and a member of the Fox School of Business & Management’s Gamma Iota Sigma Chapter, I understood that there is a level of real world experience that you are exposed to during one of these programs,” she said.

“It actually did give me a greater appreciation for their initiative. I thought it was a great, practical hands-on experience for students to embark on.” &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Wawa’s Director of Risk Management knows that harnessing data and analytics will be key to surviving the rapid pace of change that heralds new risk exposures.
By: | July 27, 2017 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first job was at the age of 15 as a cashier at a bakery. My first professional job was at Amtrak in the finance department. I worked there while I was in college.

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

A position opened up in risk management at Wawa and I saw it as an opportunity to broaden my skills and have the ability to work across many departments at Wawa to better learn about the business.

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

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The advancements in analytics are a success for the industry and offer opportunities for the future. I also find value in the industry focus on emerging and specialty risks. There is more alignment with experts in different industries related to emerging and specialty risks to provide support and services to the insurance industry. As a result, the insurance industry can now look at risk mitigation more holistically and not just related to traditional risk transfer.

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

Developing the talent to grow with the industry in specialization and analytics, but to also carry on the personal connections and relationship building that is a large part of this industry.

Nancy Wilson, director, quality assurance, risk management and safety, Wawa Inc.

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

I have had successes at all of the RIMS events I have attended. It is a great opportunity to spend time with our broker, carriers and other colleagues.

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

I think the biggest challenge facing most companies today is related to brand or reputational risk. With the ever-changing landscape of technology, globalization and social media, the risk exposure to an organization’s brand or reputation continues to grow.

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

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The changing consumer demands and new entrants into an industry are concerning. This is not necessarily something new but the frequency and speed to which it happens today does seem to be different. I think that is only going to continue. Companies need to be prepared to evolve with the times, and for me that means new risk exposures that we need to be prepared to mitigate.

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

I try to be optimistic about most things. I think the economy ebbs and flows for many reasons and it is important to always keep an eye out for signs of change.

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

I am fortunate to have opportunities professionally that make me proud, but I have to answer this one personally. I have two children ages 12 and 9 and I am so proud of the people that they are today. They both are hardworking, fun and kind. Nothing gives me a better feeling than seeing them be successful. I look forward to more of that.

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

This is really hard as there are too many favorites. I do prefer books to movies, especially if there is a movie based on a book. I find the movie is never as good. I have multiple books going at once and usually bounce back and forth between fiction and non-fiction.

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

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I have eaten at a lot of different restaurants in many major cities but I would have to pick Horn O’ Plenty in Bedford, PA. It is a farm to table restaurant in the middle of the state. The food is always fresh and tastes amazing and they make me feel like I am at home when I am there. My family and I eat there often during our trips out that way.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

I do love a good cup of coffee (working at Wawa helps that). I also enjoy a good glass of wine (red preferably) on occasion.

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

Vacations aside, I do get an opportunity to travel for work and visit our food suppliers. The opportunities I have had to visit back to the farm level have been a very interesting learning experience. If it wasn’t for my role, I would have never been able to experience that.

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

My husband, kids and I recently did a boot-camp-type obstacle course up in the trees 24 feet in the air. Although I had a harness and helmet on, I really put my fear of heights to the test. At the end of the two hours, I did get the hang of it but am not sure I would do it again.

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

The first people that come to mind are those who are serving our country and willing to sacrifice their own lives for our freedom.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Every day is different and I have the opportunity to be involved in a lot of different work across the company.

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

My husband and children have a pretty good sense of what I do, but the rest of my family has no idea. They just know I work for Wawa and sometimes travel.




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