By CYRIL TUOHY, managing editor of Risk & Insurance®
In an interview with Risk & Insurance® Managing Editor Cyril Tuohy, David Cash, the new CEO of Endurance Specialty Holdings Inc. appointed in March, offers his thoughts on working with Kenneth LeStrange, his more than 20 years in the insurance business and where the company is headed next.
Q: What attracted you to reinsurance and insurance in the first place?
I was born and raised in Bermuda and my first summer during college, like many other Bermudians, I worked in construction. The second summer I came home to Bermuda and there were no jobs in construction. I was a math major so my father introduced me to a family friend who was an actuary at Tillinghast in Bermuda, and I worked at Tillinghast that second summer--they were doing feasibility work on the formation of ACE and XL.
Q: Who do you consider your mentors in the industry, other than Ken LeStrange, of course, who was well regarded and started the company?
A: Ken LeStrange, of course, has been a very important influence in my career. But earlier on, at Tillinghast where I worked from 1988 through 1993, I was introduced to a number of well-regarded actuaries.
Q: What do you owe to Ken in terms
of leadership and guidance? What lessons have you learned from him specifically?
Working with Ken, I've learned a lot about governance and had a lot of interaction with our board of directors as well as investors. It's important to make sure that these audiences understand your strategy. Ken gave me a lot of exposure to these groups so that I've learned to do that well.
Q: Now that you're CEO, what are your top three lessons learned over the past 15 years?
A. First, pick your products carefully and well. Selling the right product in the right market is critical.
The second lesson is about leadership and management. In an industry of specialists, individuals who are strong leaders and have great organizational skills can make a significant difference to their teams and their companies.
Third, the key is to focus on the things that you can control.
Q: What can we conclude about Endurance's future direction when the board has seen fit to appoint an actuary as its CEO?
A: I think the more significant decision from the board was to promote from within versus bringing a new leader in from outside. Since inception, and in particular for the past three years, Endurance has delivered very strong performance and we've seen significant growth in book value, so that our board can be confident in the business model we've built.
Q: Where do you want the company to be in five years?
A: If you look at our current underwriting portfolio, first, we are split roughly equally between insurance and reinsurance, which has always been our goal. Within reinsurance, we see an opportunity to expand our international portfolio.
On the insurance side, we believe there is an opportunity to grow our U.S. middle-market and program business.
Q: What are the highest obstacles you see for Endurance in overcoming these challenges?
A: We typically approach underwriting on a risk-by-risk basis. So it's important for us to attract good underwriters. We believe there are a lot of talented people who are open to moving to a new opportunity and will perhaps join Endurance
Q: You've been with the company since its inception in 2001. What would you do again given a second chance?
A: I wish I had come to Endurance with more insurance background so that I would have been able to contribute more quickly to expanding the insurance operations of the company.
Q: Can we expect to see more young Bermudians in their 40s promoted to CEO position in the near future?
A: There are several Bermudian executives coming up through the ranks, including Rees Fletcher at ACE and Patrick Tannic at XL. Two of our product-line leaders here at Endurance are also native Bermudians, and among those to watch in the industry.
June 23, 2010
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