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2018 Women to Watch: Risa Ryan

Risa Ryan
Head of strategy and analysis, reinsurance division
Munich Reinsurance America Inc.
Princeton, New Jersey
Age: 55

Risa Ryan did not have to look far while growing up to find career inspiration.

“My father is an actuary who still practices. He has a little office in the basement and would disappear into his den and do all kinds of equations, which I was always fascinated by,” said Ms. Ryan, head of strategy and analysis, reinsurance division, for Munich Reinsurance America Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey.

Curiosity, coupled with an aptitude for math, seemed to add up for her.

“I was intrigued by what he was doing. I think that’s probably what piqued my interest originally,” Ms. Ryan said.

“He loved his job. I was good at math and enjoyed math and thought, ‘Why wouldn’t you do that?’ It kind of made sense.”

Her actuarial activities drew her into the business end of insurance, she said.

After starting in an actuarial position at Munich Re, she was asked to join an underwriting team. “To me, that was fascinating because I was able to do all of the pricing on the deal, but then also be part of the team that was selling the deal,” Ms. Ryan said. “At that time, I thought that was the best job on the planet.”

She has progressed through both client-facing and analytical positions in almost 30 years at Munich Re on her way to her current role, driving positive change at the company.

“What has impressed me the most about Risa are the strategic insights she has provided to me and others over the past few years,” said Steve Levy, president and CEO of the reinsurance division at Munich Re America. “While many of these insights have been related to external market opportunities, others have been associated with our internal culture. The latter have resulted in a number of initiatives that have positively impacted morale and our overall direction.”

Ms. Ryan believes a technical education can help a woman succeed in the industry.

“I am incredibly supportive of women studying science, technology, engineering and math. To me, that is so critical,” Ms. Ryan said. “If we could get more women with a technical background into this field, I think you would see a huge shift in the makeup of senior management in companies.”

NEXT: Rekha Schipper
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