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Insurance leaders honoured at BII industry awards event

Some of the insurance industry’s strongest standouts were recently recognised for their leadership skills and contributions to the industry and Bermuda at the Bermuda Insurance Institute’s (BII) 15th annual Insurance Industry Awards Event.

Honoured at the event were Roger Gillett who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Stephen Catlin who was the recipient of the Industry Leader Award, Chris Estwanik who received the Young Industry Leader of the Year Award, and the Argus Group who received the first ever Corporate Social Responsibility Award. All were added to BII roll of honour.

Premier Craig Cannonier was in attendance and provided opening remarks. He spoke of the exemplary talent present in the Bermuda marketplace and congratulated those receiving awards.

Chris Fisher, who presented the awards, commented that it was an honour to preside over his first BII Industry Awards as president of the BII’s governing council and he thanked the current recipients for the wonderful example that they set to all who are working hard to keep the Bermuda insurance and reinsurance industry at the forefront globally.

Roger Gillett, who has distinguished himself in the industry throughout his career, offered three challenges to the audience regarding volunteerism, the BII, and self-fulfilling prophecy.

“There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say, ‘What happened?’,” Mr Gillett said. “In the world of volunteerism there is a need for people in the first category. So if my thoughts have resonated with you in any way, step forward and volunteer, particularly our young people, and become part of something, which makes things happen. And to the employers, please encourage and recognise this positive behaviour. Your people will respect you for it and they will grow.”

The second challenge Mr Gillett discussed concerned the BII, which he was on the council of through most of the 1980s and 1990s.

“I rejoined the [BII] Council about four years ago. As I compare the budget from the earlier period to our budget today and see that, taking into account inflation, it has not materially changed,” Mr Gillett said. “The market meanwhile, by any measure has grown by multiples. We are, within the restrictions of our budget, introducing new programmes, like our Wharton Leadership programme, the Bermuda Insurance Underwriting Conference, and the Captive Education Summit for which we are being commended. But, we still live hand to mouth. This sounds provocative but I have to say it. This is unacceptable and regressive.

“As the leading captive domicile in the world, a leading insurance centre, and a leading reinsurance centre, we must have a World Class Insurance and Risk Management Education Facility. I ask you to ponder on this, and hopefully embrace the idea. I believe that a relatively modest amount of funding and effort would result in something that we can point to with pride, to our clients and indeed the world,” Mr Gillett added.

Mr Gillett’s final challenge focused on a self-fulfilling prophecy. Quoting Winston Churchill, Mr Gillett said, “Pessimists see difficulty in every opportunity. Optimists see opportunity in every difficulty.”

“Over the past few years we have become a nation of pessimists by habit,” Mr Gillett said. “The sky is not falling. The time for public self-flagellation must end. Having, in the past, used the power of self fulfilling prophecy to good effect, I have feared through this period that this power was operating in reverse, that is if something negative is repeated enough times, we will all begin to believe it and act accordingly. It is time for us to rise above the negative rhetoric and start talking well about ourselves. We have built something quite unique in Bermuda. At every opportunity let’s celebrate our successes. Let’s challenge the naysayers,” Mr Gillett said.

Chris Estwanik, the Young Industry Leader of the Year award recipient also had key messages for the audience. He had five messages that persons could apply to their own lives. He told everyone that adversity makes you stronger — recounting meaningful stories from his life and how they helped to shape him and make him the successful professional and marathoner he is today.

Mr Estwanik also warned that overconfidence leads to disappointing others. He told a story from his college days when he learned this lesson the hard way

“We’re going to mess up, disappoint those that rely on us, but it is what you do afterwards that matters more and can set the tone for your future,” Mr Estwanik said.

“Hard work and sacrifice still defines the successful ones,” he said in closing and urged the audience not to take anything for granted.

Stephen Catlin, the Industry Leader of the Year Award recipient, was unable to attend in person but sent a prerecorded message. In his comments he noted that he had been a part of the Bermuda marketplace since the early 1990s. He also mentioned that he and his colleagues recognised the benefits of the local marketplace and were glad to be a part of Bermuda. He also said that he sees his award as a team effort and that the award was “as much for Graham Pewter and his team as it is for him”. Gillian Cross of Catlin Bermuda accepted the award on Mr Catlin’s behalf.

Alison Hill, CEO of the Argus Group, accepted the award on behalf of her company highlighting the company’s focus on prevention.

“Our theme of prevention means that the charities we support are wide-ranging and include The Reading Clinic, Bermuda Diabetes Association, The Family Centre, Crime Stoppers Bermuda and Bermuda Heart Foundation, to name just a few. And, we tackle all sorts of areas with pre-emptive measures targeting issues like obesity, illiteracy and antisocial behaviour,” Ms Hill said.

“While this award is fantastic recognition, we get the greatest joy from seeing what these and other charities achieve with the support of Argus. I therefore dedicate this award to our numerous charity partners, and I look forward to our ongoing work together,” Ms Hill concluded.

The awards event closed with a tribute to BII Council member and past president, Laurie Orchard, of the XL Group, for her years of service to the BII and her organisation of the awards event.

Industry Leaders: The Bermuda Insurance Institute's 15th annual Insurance Industry Awards Event honoured leaders in the Island's re/insurance industry (L-R) Dawnnelle Walker, CEO, BII; Laurie Orchard, BII council Member; Chris Estwanik, Young Industry Leader of the Year; Gillian Cross, accepting the award on behalf of Stephen Catlin: Industry Leader of the Year; Premier Cannonier; Alison Hill CEO of Argus accepting the Corporate Social Responsibility Award; Roger Gillett winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award; Chris Fisher, President of the BII Governing Council.

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Published May 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2013 at 6:55 pm)

Insurance leaders honoured at BII industry awards event

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