2017 Risk All Star: Zach Finn

Unbridled Passion

Butler University’s Zach Finn isn’t afraid to call out the risk management and insurance industry for what he feels is a less than stellar approach to talent recruitment.

Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management and Insurance program, Butler University

This country’s university-level risk management programs graduate 4,000 students per year “if we’re lucky” Finn said, for an industry that, due to retirement, will soon need 100 times that many professionals.

So when he got the chance to run a university risk management program, Finn, a former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co., saw an opportunity to tackle the talent problem head on.

The result is the first student-run captive, the MJ Student-Run Insurance Company Ltd. The captive, formed by Butler University students under Finn’s guidance, was established in Bermuda in April and began operations last month.

For Finn, the work on the captive was a way to give university-level risk management students the real-world experience that would guarantee them employment once they graduated.

“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to not only show students what they could do with a risk management degree, but show the industry what students could do with an insurance and risk management degree,” Finn said.

Finn’s drive and determination reflect a trait that many of this year’s Risk All Star winners share; they weren’t afraid to stand up to their own organizations and tell them they needed to go in a different direction or risk losses.

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

Don Ortegel, the Aon resident managing director who serves in an advisory role on the Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program board at Butler, said that Finn’s passion and perseverance are self-evident.

“He’s very driven in everything that he does. If he gets it into his mind that he wants to do something, he’s going to do it,” said Ortegel, who served as Finn’s broker when Finn was the risk manager at J.M. Smucker.

Ortegel also praised Finn’s collaborative approach, that works in harmony with his passion and drive.

“He surrounds himself with advisors,” Ortegel said.

“The captive gives students experience with the moving parts of insurance, and at the same time gives them a tangible accomplishment that they can point to.” — Zach Finn, director, Davey Risk Management and Insurance program, Butler University

“He’s open to anyone’s input or counsel. I think that adds to his creativity. He’s always looking for new ideas and to make an impact for the industry,” Ortegel said.

In addition to housing some of the risks of Butler University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, including its rare book and fine arts collections, the MJ Student-Run captive has also served another intended purpose.

Butler graduates who worked with Finn to form the captive found jobs right out of college, instead of having to wait two or three years to gain additional experience.

“The captive gives students experience with the moving parts of insurance, and at the same time gives them a tangible accomplishment that they can point to,” Finn said. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?

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One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.

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Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

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