On the 22nd floor of the Willis Towers Watson building in London sits a replica of the Titanic, a tribute to the company’s leadership in insurance history. In 1912, the company brokered the placement for Titanic’s hull and machinery insurance, engaging 12 companies and 50 Lloyd’s syndicates. When it tragically sank on April 15, 1912, the strength of the insurance market was evident–a claim on one of the world’s largest losses was paid within 30 days.
Willis Towers Watson’s reputation for innovation, problem-solving, and placing complex risks in the insurance market continues today and spans far beyond Marine insurance. Risk Management and Insurance MBA’s have observed that fact through this semester’s Applied Learning Consulting Project with United Airlines, and on March 18, we had an opportunity to see Willis Towers Watson’s expertise at work in other areas too. In a session hosted by Philip Smaje, Global Head of Broking, students mingled with leaders in aerospace, property, casualty, cyber, directors and officers, crime and risk and analytics. Most of all, we were interested to discuss the intersections of each insurance specialty. For example, Peter Foster’s Cyber team provides strategic advice to large, complex corporations and financial institutions, combining insurance and preventative risk management services. Peter developed the first endorsement to cover expenses associated with breach notification laws and created one of the first intellectual property policies. He explained how a data breach can become a commercial crime claim (relevant to the Directors’ and Officers’ Liability team) if money is stolen.
Unsurprisingly, Risk & Analytics underlies it all. Eamon McMurrough, Senior Director of the Core Analytics team, described how he and his team develop and manage analytic tools to support Willis Towers Watson’s consultancy and broking. The firm continues to emerge as a leader in harnessing data and applying advanced analytics to improve risk management decision-making cross-functionally. For example, sophisticated predictive modeling evaluates Directors’ & Officers’ (D&O) Liability loss potential to support Alexandra Chittock’s team. Alexandra is Executive Director of the Retail team within D&O. Noting an uptick in shareholder litigation, Alexandra’s team is responsible for delivering strategic advice, preventative risk management, and insurance placement to protect boards of directors. She has extensive experience addressing commercial crime and fraud, and is an innovator addressing risks not currently covered by traditional insurance.
Willis Towers Watson was the perfect host to kick off our week in London. The array of topics along with combination of senior and emerging leadership provided us all an opportunity to see our academic knowledge in action and envision ourselves as leaders in the industry. There is hardly a better way to begin a trip to London than a panoramic view of the city and a lively panel discussion of cutting-edge insurance topics.