New York — James Schiro, CEO of Zurich Financial Services, was honored 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 more than $2.4 million 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 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.”

Source: Zurich Financial Services Group

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