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Spring 2021 Advisory

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John Doyle Urges Next-Gen Leaders to Modernize and Diversify the Insurance Industry

John Doyle, President and CEO of Marsh, referenced the current historic moment as a singular opportunity for the insurance industry to revitalize itself with new, diverse talent and digital innovation. Speaking with the inaugural class of Columbia University’s Insurance Management master’s program at its online orientation in August, Doyle further called on the industry to spotlight its “higher purpose” as a critical economic and social institution.

“A big miss by the industry is not better conveying all the great things that it does and what incredibly dynamic and interesting careers can be had to younger, earlier career people so we can capture more talent,” he said.

Reflecting on his three decades as an insurance underwriter and broker, the bulk of which he spent in various executive positions at AIG before joining Marsh in 2016, Doyle cited three historic moments that have compelled the industry to learn and evolve: 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, he said, the insurance industry should continue to take the lead in working with government and financial players to mitigate future risks ahead of the next “tail event.”

“We have a role to play, I think, in bending the risk curve here,” he said. “Ultimately, we've learned a lot—we're experts in risk. And we should put those learnings together, and we should attack it, just like we have any other problem. I see an opportunity for us to improve the outcome of the next time around.”

The current crisis, Doyle added, has revealed how urgently the insurance industry needs to modernize and digitize the client experience.

“If there’s one professional takeaway from the pandemic, it’s that we’ve got to accelerate digitizing every process in every area, whether it’s the colleague experience, the client experience,” he said. “It’ll certainly better enable remote working.”

Moreover, he said, the country’s reckoning with centuries of racial injustice should spur the industry to ensure it reflects “different experiences and diversity of thought.”

“We need to be much more deliberate about how we attract talent to the industry,” he said. “That next-gen talent can push us to modernize how we work. And the next-gen talent needs to be far more diverse than the current talent that leads the industry.”

Ultimately, Doyle said, the insurance industry is fundamentally built on strong relationships. Commending Academic Director Teresa Chan, he lauded Columbia’s Insurance Management program as an important new source of relationship builders.

“I want to applaud Teresa for setting up…and leading this program because it's just an opportunity for us to attract and bring greater talent to the industry than we ever have.”

Applications to join Columbia University’s Insurance Management master’s program in Fall 2021 are open. Visit Deadlines to learn more.