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Like many in the business, John J. Marren came into his career in risk management inadvertently.
“I was a chemical engineer in college and I never imagined I'd get into this as a business or a career,” said the director, global risk and insurance management at CSL Behring L.L.C. in King of Prussia, Pa., and its Parkville, Australia-based parent, CSL Ltd.
But as Mr. Marren neared his 1986 graduation with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., a depressed oil industry reduced demand for new chemical engineers.
“When I was a senior, Factory Mutual Engineering (Corp.) was interviewing at school,” Mr. Marren said. “My father knew some people in the business.” On his father's suggestion, Mr. Marren interviewed with the company that's now known as FM Global.
“It was kind of a tough business climate for chemical engineers when I was graduating,” the CSL risk manager said. “Out of our small class of 34, there were seven who ended up having job offers before graduation and I was one of them, and it was with Factory Mutual.”
After spending three years working for Factory Mutual in Philadelphia, Mr. Marren moved through positions at various companies that added to his expertise. He joined Johnson & Higgins in 1989 as a property loss control consultant, and later became part of an oil, gas and petrochemical group the broker formed in New York.
“I was interested in being a dedicated engineer to that group at that time, never thinking that insurance broking might be part of my future,” Mr. Marren said. “But they said, "Well, we like your experience, but we need property brokers, and we'd like to make you one.'”
When J&H moved that group to Houston in 1995, Mr. Marren remained in New York, managing the broker's property loss control department there. Tiring of the daily commute between Philadelphia and New York after a year, he moved into a position as a global property broker and strategic risk consultant in J&H's Philadelphia office.
Two years later, a Philadelphia-area client was looking for a replacement when the individual who had handled insurance approached retirement. “They'd never had a full-time risk manager,” Mr. Marren said, so he approached them about the possibility of going to work for them. It was shortly after Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. acquired J&H, Mr. Marren said, “and things were uncertain for everybody. It was a convenient time to entertain another option.”
The timing was perfect for Mr. Marren to became the first global risk manager for Firmenich International S.A., a Geneva-based flavors and fragrances company with its U.S. headquarters in Plainsboro, N.J. Again, though, a 55-mile commute each way became a factor, as was the desire for additional challenges.
“I was fortunate to find an opportunity with Henkel of America,” Mr. Marren said, joining the then-Gulph Mills, Pa.-based Henkel of America Inc. as North American risk manager in January 2003.
Several years later, he was approached about an opportunity at CSL. Mr. Marren was not actively looking for a new position, but the opportunity sounded interesting.
“So I took the interview and, as it turned out, shortly thereafter Henkel announced that they were going to be closing their office here and moving it to Connecticut,” he said.
In another incident of good timing, Mr. Marren joined CSL as global risk manager based in CSL Behring's King of Prussia, Pa., headquarters in March 2007.
Away from work, Mr. Marren, 47, enjoys vacations with his wife, Kim Solari; daughter Claire, 12; and stepdaughter Katelyn, 17. The family recently traveled to Australia.
He also likes to play golf, ski, go to the gym and, he said, “I think about playing tennis again.”
Mr. Marren also finds an outlet in music.
“I play the drums,” he said. “I have an off-and-on little band here that tries to get together as time will allow—mostly open mic nights.”
He's been playing drums since he was 10 and said, “I still play the same set my parents bought me when I was 12.”
The current band has been together about two years. “We may have our first paying gig in June,” Mr. Marren said. “It remains to be seen if we can get everyone together that day.”
The overriding risk management philosophy at CSL Ltd. and CSL Behring L.L.C. is operational risk management, and executing the philosophy involves a decentralized approach passing risk management responsibility to the managers of the companies' various operations.