Risk Management Is at the Center of It All, Says This CRO

To serve a company in a risk management role, says QBE North America's John Langione, is an opportunity to serve the entire organization and learn the industry in a unique way.
By: | January 13, 2020

Almost every risk professional you meet has a unique origin story about how they came to the profession. For John Langione, that story began in law enforcement, serving on what become the Insurance Fraud Task Force for New Jersey.

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For Langione, Chief Risk Officer of QBE North America, that work opened his eyes to the field of risk management, and he was quickly hooked.

“The more I was involved in risk management and saw how important it was to strategic planning, the more I became enamored. Risk management is so much less tactical and more strategic than other functions and I found this to be a stimulating opportunity to make an important contribution to the business.

“I found the task of managing and assessing a broad spectrum of risk rewarding and I was intrigued by how important this dimension of the business is to help a company achieve success overall.”

Working with professionals in the anti-fraud and audit functions helped Langione connect with the dynamic nature of the industry. Before long, he accepted a position with a major carrier and began a new path.

Fast forward to present day, Langione is the Chief Risk Officer for QBE North America — a role he approaches much as he would if he were sitting in the CEO’s seat.

“It may be surprising, but I actually view my priorities as similar to that of the CEO,” he said. “I need to identify the company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the framework and culture needed to achieve our goals. From talent and culture to technology and future planning, I need to be abreast of everything needed for the company to operate effectively.”

Langione recalled a time when QBE North America was undergoing a period of significant challenge and change. Helping the company to navigate through it, helping it build a strong and resilient organization with a robust foundation, was extremely rewarding.

“What excites me is what challenges me,” Langione added. “The world of risk is continuously changing hour by hour — both internally and externally.

“Working in such a dynamic environment is very fulfilling. Being the CRO, I feel a sense of guardianship, accountability and responsibility to all of our key stakeholders from employees, to customers, shareholders and regulators. The confidence all of these parties have in me is extremely important and challenging but also very fulfilling.

“Today our company is proudly living up to its promise as an integrated specialist that delivers expertise, excellent service and global strength to its customers. I love being a part of that.”

Rising Up Through the Ranks

Aligning with leadership’s goals has long been a key piece of Langione’s path to success, in addition to identifying mentors and role models throughout every stage of his career.

“In each role, I worked toward an objective to make whomever I reported to successful. I would take time to understand their mandates and align myself to their behaviors and success.

“And in every role, I had a mentor whether or not they realized they were. Some were more active than others, but in every instance, I tried to learn something new. Through even the smallest of instances, like being invited to a meeting I would otherwise not be a part of, I absorbed everything I could.

“One of my best mentors gave me the ‘opportunity to fail’ by putting me in front of a large audience of senior management to pitch an important proposal.  Giving me that opportunity was a great enabler for my growth.”

Langione’s experience has taught him the vital role of risk management for health of every business, and he considers it an invaluable learning experience for young professionals no matter what role they eventually play in the organization.

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“Being a part of risk and being exposed to the broad spectrum of exposures across an organization, is an opportunity to help people expand their careers to be positioned to take on broader, leadership roles within the company.

“There are very few opportunities in any organization that would allow them to have as broad a view of risk and as big of an opportunity for them personally to learn about the industry in such an intimate way. More than most jobs, this role requires people to think very strategically not just to limit risk-taking but to also ‘enable’ management to take risks in a structured way.

“As part of that, risk management needs to ensure we evolve without jeopardizing the strength of the business and company framework. If risk can help do that and help empower the organization to take the right risks, we can greatly enhance the strategic growth and strength of our organization.” &

Michelle Kerr is workers' comp editor for Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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