Risk Insider: Tony Boobier

Time Passages

By: | October 29, 2015 • 2 min read
Tony Boobier is an experienced independent consultant focusing on insurance analytics. An international speaker, commentator and published author, he lies awake at night thinking about the convergence of insurance and technology. He can be reached at [email protected]

Hey, you! Yes, you — the one with the long hair and the flared denims, asleep in the chair.

You were always a bit of a risk taker, but you never imagined yourself working in the risk industry. Back then, taking risks was all about the occasional underage beer and slightly overlapping girlfriends.

college photoI bet you never imagined back then which one of these two girls you would spend all your life with?

Even then your interest was in leaving something for posterity, and you started in the construction industry. Some of the things you helped to design and build are even still there, but perhaps your real legacy will prove to be in ideas and words, not physical structures?

But it wasn’t a love of buildings that gave you the greatest buzz, but rather why things fell down, which took you into the insurance industry where you spent 20 years, before moving to the dark world of technology, and then to analytics.

As a guy whose numeracy skills naturally lent themselves to data, you figured out that words were more interesting than the numbers, as it seems to be through words and descriptions that numbers and ideas are best understood.

Of course lots of things happened along the way. Twin Towers and Black Swans, unimaginable new risks and continuing old ones. But back then, the only capital management that you worried about was the cash in your pocket.

I’m sure that there’s someone else out there, today, who at the age of 18, will one day find themselves in some form of this profession like I have today, full of intellectual richness, complexity and interest.

But in the same way that you didn’t know it then, they also won’t be aware of the career potential. Will they find the risk industry, or will the risk business find them?

Or perhaps, like with one of the girls in the photo, you’ll meet on the dance floor and that will be that.

What is the future of risk management? How will the profession look in 40 years? What new risks will arise?

To what degree will cognitive analytics replace the need for numeracy? What will the essential competences of risk managers be in the future? Will the most important be a combination of communication and collaboration? And an ability to work with cognitive technologies in ways which today we would find unimaginable?

The only thing we can be certain of is that things will change. Isn’t it important that we remain alert to what is happening, and that change doesn’t occur while we are “sleeping”?

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R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Ellen Thrower, president (retired), The College of Insurance, introduced me to the importance of insurance as a component of risk management. Further, she encouraged me to explore strategic and operational risk as foundation topics shaping the role of the modern risk manager.

Chris Mandel, former president of RIMS and Risk Manager of the Year, introduced me to the emerging area of enterprise risk management. He helped me recognize the need to align hazard, strategic, operational and financial risk into a single framework. He gave me the perspective of ERM in a high-tech environment, using USAA as a model program that later won an excellence award for innovation.

Bob Morrell, founder and former CEO of Riskonnect, showed me how technology could be applied to solving serious risk management and governance problems. He created a platform that made some of my ideas practical and extended them into a highly-successful enterprise that served risk and governance management needs of major corporations.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

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From a background in corporate finance and commercial banking, I accepted the position of provost of The College of Insurance. Recognizing my limited prior knowledge in the field, I became a student of insurance and risk management leading to authorship of books on hazard and financial risk. This led to industry consulting, as well as to the development of graduate-level courses and concentrations in MBA programs.

R&I: What was your first job?

The provost position was the first job I had in the industry, after serving as dean of the Seton Hall University School of Business and founding The Princeton Consulting Group. Earlier positions were in business development with Marine Transport Lines, consulting in commercial banking and college professorships.

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

Creating a risk management concentration in the MBA program at Saint Peter’s, co-founding the Russian Risk Management Society (RUSRISK), and writing “Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management” and the “AMA Handbook of Financial Risk Management.”

A few years ago, I expanded into risk management in higher education. From 2017 into 2018, Rowman and Littlefield published my four books that address risks facing colleges and universities, professors, students and parents.

Jack Hampton, Professor of Business, St. Peter’s University

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

The Godfather. I see it as a story of managing risk, even as the behavior of its leading characters create risk for others.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Mixed with a little ice, it is a serious rival for Johnny Walker Gold scotch and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

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

Mount Etna, Taormina, and Agrigento, Sicily. I actually supervised an MBA program in Siracusa and learned about risk from a new perspective.

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

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Army Airborne training and jumping out of an airplane. Fortunately, I never had to do it in combat even though I served in Vietnam.

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

George C. Marshall, one of the most decorated military leaders in American history, architect of the economic recovery program for Europe after World War II, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. For Marshall, it was not just about winning the war. It was also about winning the peace.

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

Sharing lessons with colleagues and students by writing, publishing and teaching. A professor with a knowledge of risk management does not only share lessons. The professor is also a student when MBA candidates talk about the risks they manage every day.

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

Sensitizing for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies to the exposures and complexities facing their organizations. Sometimes we focus too much on strategies that sound good but do not withstand closer examination. Risk managers help organizations make better decisions.

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

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Developing executive training programs to help risk managers assume C-suite positions in organizations. Insurance may be a good place to start but so is an MBA degree. The Risk and Insurance Management Society recognizes the importance of a wide range of risk knowledge. Colleges and universities need to catch up with RIMS.

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

Cyber risk and its impact on hazard, operational and financial strategies. A terrorist can take down a building. A cyber-criminal can take down much more.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

My family members think I’m a professor. They do not seem to be too interested in my views on risk management.




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