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REDMOND, Wash. -- Heeding his own advice to risk management students about not subordinating family life to career, Scott K. Lange will retire Dec. 1 as director of risk management for Microsoft Corp.
Mr. Lange, 43, said he is not leaving Microsoft to take another position. He said his decision is based solely on his desire and financial ability to leave Microsoft and spend more time with his family.
Mr. Lange said he prefers to consider his departure as his retirement rather than as a resignation. Resignation, he said, "has a potentially negative connotation."
Mr. Lange acknowledged that a few organizations have "enticed" him with opportunities and that he probably will return to the industry in some capacity. But the 1995 winner of Business Insurance's Risk Manager of the Year Award said he will not allow any future venture to cut into the time he wants to devote to his wife and three children.
Mr. Lange joined the software giant in January 1990 as its first risk manager. He previously was the liability and aviation manager for The Boeing Co.
During an interview, Mr. Lange several times referred to his position at Microsoft as "the best risk management job in the world." He called his work "exciting" and said his position gave him the opportunity to do "a lot of innovative things."
Mr. Lange often professed the importance of risk managers stepping forward and helping senior management with their business strategy efforts. Risk managers can aid top management by helping them redefine risk and re-evaluate how to finance it, regardless of whether the exposures are insurable, he said.
Microsoft's marquee name, which makes "people want to deal with you," and Mr. Lange's relationships at the office also made him look forward to going to work every day, he said.
"I absolutely love this job," he said. "But, I can't get what I want with my family" and work at Microsoft.
Mr. Lange said his commute to and from his home in Edmonds, Wash., a community north of Microsoft's Redmond campus, ate up two to four hours each day. Weeknights, he said, he often had only a half-hour to see his children: Danielle, 18; Michelle, 14; and Ryan, 11.
Moving closer to work was not an appealing option because he did not want to uproot his children from their schools and friends.
He also did not ask Microsoft management to allow him to reduce his work schedule, he said. "Microsoft got where it is today by people working hard. I wouldn't want to dilute that extremely hard-working work force by cutting back. It's a point of honor."
Mr. Lange said an observer's reaction to a speech he gave at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. in San Diego last spring helped him decide how to balance his personal and professional lives.
Mr. Lange spoke to 300 risk management students on the importance of not subordinating their personal values to their careers. He advised the members of the Gamma Iota Sigma risk management fraternity not to uproot their families and move across country just to get a promotion and not to use others as rungs to move up the corporate ladder.
"Put your family first," he told the group. "By holding true to your values, you'll come out better in the end."
After the speech, a photographer covering the event approached Mr. Lange and said the speech had moved him to re-evaluate his life. In a note that Mr. Lange said he received a week later, the photographer said he was changing jobs so he could spend more time with his family.
"That really affected me," Mr. Lange said. He then began thinking about how much time he had devoted to his career while leaving most of the "burden and pleasure" of his children's rearing to his wife, Elizabeth.
"So I like to think I got through to myself" during that RIMS speech, he said.
While his departure from Microsoft will allow him to spend more time with his family, Mr. Lange said he does not want to drop out of the risk management industry.
"I'm a risk management junkie," he said. "I have no desire to hang up my bar charts and go build motorcycles," he said, referring to his hobby of restoring Harley-Davidsons.
Individual or private consulting is "a high likelihood" for his future professional endeavors, he said.
Already, "there are a couple of things in the insurance technology area I'm being enticed on," he said. Asserting that risk managers need new technological tools, he said, "I think I'll find myself working toward that end."
He also said he would like to continue his work with RIMS, particularly with the organization's advisory council.
However, "anything I do will be subordinated to me spending time with my family," he said.
As for Microsoft, most of its insurance renewals are in July, and many coverages are part of multiyear programs, Mr. Lange said.
A Microsoft official could not be reached for comment.