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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.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]