Wayne Fisher '66
Chemistry | Bonita Springs, Fla.
Less than a decade ago Wayne H. Fisher capped his 36-year career in the insurance industry with four years as the chief risk officer of Zurich Financial Services, one of the world’s largest insurance groups.
It was not the kind of career the grandson of a legendary Susquehanna chemistry professor imagined when he graduated in 1966 as a chemistry major. But his experience at both Susquehanna and as a U.S. Air Force officer in Vietnam served him extremely well in a career that began as an actuarial trainee and culminated in multiple high-level positions with both Zurich (in the U.S. and Switzerland) and the Continental Corporation.
“I minored in math and liked the challenge of being an actuary,” he says. “Also, the chemistry, physics and math courses I took at Susquehanna really taught me analytical thinking and problem solving, how to synthesize information and distill down what’s important—which is all very transferable to a discipline like actuarial science.”
His experience as an Air Force electronics officer, where the focus was on building and motivating a team to get a technical job done, also enabled him to quickly assume management roles and broadly integrate actuarial considerations into the management and strategic planning of the firms for which he worked.
“It’s the kind of business that contributes a lot to society,” says Fisher, whose risk management philosophy involves assessing what former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called “the unknown unknowns.” Whether a risk might involve terrorism, natural disasters or systemic financial risk, Fisher says insurers must constantly assess potential scenarios, evaluate the resulting financial impact on their firms and decide whether and how to hedge against such risks.
Fisher, who lives in Manhattan, Vermont and on Florida’s Gulf Coast, retired four years ago. Currently, he is an independent, outside director for Zurich’s U.S. insurance operations and chairs the board of directors’ audit committee. He is the pro-bono executive director of the Enterprise Risk Management Institute International, a not-for-profit that brings together international actuarial societies and graduate-level programs in actuarial science and risk management. He is also a director of the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Fisher’s grandfather, George E. Fisher, graduated in 1888 at what was then still known as the Missionary Institute. Returning in 1896, he taught chemistry for 50 years and established Susquehanna’s natural sciences department. Wayne’s father, Roscoe Fisher ’32, and his uncle, Lawrence Fisher ’31, also attended SU before receiving their medical degrees. Fisher Hall is named for Professor Fisher. Wayne has continued to contribute to Susquehanna through participation in the executive-in-residence program. A special treat is giving a lecture on risk management in none other than Fisher Hall.
What Is Susquepedia?
Suhs-kwuh-pee-dee-uh (n): A collection of experiences, topics, and personalities that makes Susquehanna University unique.