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Like so many other risk management professionals, John Pearce, general manager, policy and risk for Auckland, New Zealand-based Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd., didn’t follow a straight line from college to risk management.
The 58-year-old Australia native studied civil engineering and psychology at the University of New South Wales. Mr. Pearce notes that a strong interest in music led him to Southampton University in the United Kingdom, where he earned a master’s degree in audiology. That in turn led him to develop his own business dealing with noise control.
Noise control led to work in the health and safety field, which eventually led Mr. Pearce into risk management in the 1980s. Attending a risk management conference, Mr. Pearce was struck by the fact that attendees “were talking about insurance, insurance, insurance” while devoting very little discussion to prevention of losses, he said.
“I thought, this is madness,” said Mr. Pearce. “Why so much about insurance when the focus really ought to be preventing the losses in the first place? It just seemed to me to be an area where there was an enormous gap.”
Outside of work, Mr. Pearce continues to pursue his love of music as bass player and vocalist in a seven-person band called “Work in Progress.” He says music “is a good stress reliever.” He also has what he calls a “real passion for cars.” He built a Cobra replica that is 15 years old and still running like new, he says.
Mr. Pearce and his wife Sue, an environmental scientist, have three daughters. Emma is an underwriter based in Sydney; Natalie is an investment banker based in London; and Katie is a schoolteacher in Auckland.
Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd.'s philosophy of managing insurance is straightforward: None of the individual businesses within the Auckland, New Zealand-based milk processing company is allowed to buy its own insurance without approval from either the chief financial officer or John Pearce, general manager, policy and risk.