Zurich Financial Services CEO James J. Schiro honored as 2007 Insurance Leader of the Year by St. John’s University
In conjunction with the award, Zurich announces the establishment of a scholarship fund for Chinese graduate students
New York, N.Y., January 17, 2008 – James J. Schiro, CEO of Zurich Financial Services, was honored last evening as the 2007 Insurance Leader of the Year at St. John’s University’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Sciences. The award, which was presented at the school’s 13th Annual Insurance Leader of the Year Award Dinner at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, raised over $2.4 million – a record amount – for students and programs at the School of Risk Management
“The Insurance Leader of the Year Award was established in 1995 to recognize outstanding individuals whose leadership in insurance sets them apart from their peers,” said Ellen Thrower, Executive Director of the School of Risk Management. “This year’s distinguished honoree, Jim Schiro, truly exemplifies the kind of leadership this award was created to recognize,” she added.
In accepting the award, Schiro challenged the insurance industry to transform its processes and procedures to become more customer-focused. “The insurance industry’s business model has remained stagnant for a very, very long time, while the world around us was changing immensely,” Schiro said. “It is vitally important to the future of our industry that we re-examine our customers, products and distribution models to ensure we remain relevant to the communities we serve. We can’t be trying to sell the same products and services to people that we sold to their parents and grandparents.”
Citing the belief that the quality of the industry’s people will determine its success, Schiro also challenged the audience of more than 1,400 industry leaders to improve recruitment, talent management and other human resource practices, thereby positioning the industry as an employer of choice. “Considering the impact we have on peoples’ lives and the well-being of communities, it is imperative that we attract and retain the best and brightest today’s labor markets have to offer.”
Tying these themes of enhanced customer service and talent management together with an increased commitment to emerging market development, Schiro announced at the ceremony that Zurich has established the Zurich Scholars Fund at the School of Risk Management. This scholarship program will fund the enrollment of Chinese students in St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science’s Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in Management of Risk.
The $300,000 scholarship program will cover all costs associated with three Chinese students attending the one-year program for each of the next three years, helping to contribute to the overall development of the Chinese insurance market. “This scholarship program is intended to prepare high-potential Chinese students and professionals for future leadership in the insurance and risk management industry,” Schiro said, adding that, “the greatest thing a leader can do is to make sure the next generation is better prepared, better equipped and better positioned than the generation that preceded it.”
Past recipients are Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings Limited (last year’s honoree); Peter B. Lewis, Chairman of the Board of The Progressive Corporation; Brian Duperreault, Retired Chairman, President and CEO of ACE Limited; John T. (Jack) Sinnott, Retired Chairman and CEO of Marsh Inc.; Paul B. Ingrey, Retired Chairman & CEO of Arch Worldwide Insurance and Reinsurance Group; John J. (Jack) Byrne, Retired Chairman & CEO of White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd.; Ronald E. Ferguson, Retired Chairman and CEO of General Re Corporation; Robert Clements, Chairman of Integro Ltd.; Maurice R. (Hank) Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Company; Patrick G. Ryan, Executive Chairman of Aon Group; Sir David Rowland, former Chairman of Lloyd’s of London; and Edward J. Muhl, former Superintendent of Insurance of the State of New York.
About Zurich Financial Services
Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich) is an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Founded in 1872, the Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. It employs approximately 58,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries. In North America, Zurich (www.zurichna.com) is a leading commercial property-casualty insurance provider serving the global corporate, large corporate, middle market, small business, specialties and programs sectors.
Steve McKay, Zurich
Dominic Scianna, St. John’s University