BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

Kathleen M. Ireland redraws career plans to work on risk management canvas

IBM's long-time broker brought expertise inside company

Kathleen M. Ireland redraws career plans to work on risk management canvas

Kathleen M. Ireland's chosen career ended before it began.

Ms. Ireland, now vice president of global risk and insurance for IBM and Business Insurance's 2015 Risk Manager of the Year®, majored in art while in college at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

“But art in the public schools was cut back when I graduated,” she said. Her father, who was risk manager for Raytheon Co., advised her to think about a career in insurance. She said that no one in the family had followed in his footsteps, and that she'd felt no pressure to do so.

“We weren't big about making people follow in our footsteps,” she said.

She started with Frank B. Hall — which was acquired by what is now Aon P.L.C. — in Boston. “I typed certificate forms; I had a clerical job,” she said.

She also went to school at night at an insurance institute in Boston that was right around the corner near Boston landmark Faneuil Hall.

Frank B. Hall had a risk management department, which was really the first outsourcing risk management department at that time, she said. “I was very fortunate that it did exist — so I learned both sides of property and casualty, and at that time Boston was the center of the technology boom,” with Wang Laboratories Inc. and similar clients.

“We helped design their domestic programs, and we also acted as the risk manager for companies that were big enough to need one but didn't want to source one internally,” she said. “So we had an interesting role of identifying the risk, dealing with insurance companies, brokering the risk, and presenting to the treasurers.”

Continuing education

Ms. Ireland worked her way through the brokerage ranks, joining Johnson & Higgins, which was acquired by Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. in 1997. Over the years, Ms. Ireland also earned professional designations including the Associate in Risk Management and the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter.

Globalization created a demand for brokers with both property and casualty training to take on the international assignments and design the multinational programs, so Ms. Ireland did a lot of work in that area, she said. “It was almost a perfect storm. When IBM did outsource their risk management function, I was chosen as one of the brokers to be the international casualty lead, and I did that for 13 consecutive years. I had the privilege and the pleasure of handling IBM's business while at the same time learning about many other industry sectors,” including defense contractors and the chemical industry.

In 2005, IBM decided to handle risk management internally. Ms. Ireland, who was then a Marsh USA Inc. senior vice president, was chosen for the job of manager-global risk and insurance management. She was promoted to director-global risk and insurance in 2010 and to her current position early this year.

“It's been wonderful, it's been great,” she said.

Read Next