FERMA has started 2015 with a new executive structure and ambitious plans for the year. Here the executive team give us their views and personal objectives.

Julia Graham, President and board member

Julia Graham

Julia Graham

One of my objectives as FERMA president was to agree and implement a management succession plan for the FERMA leadership that built upon the achievements of the past and positioned FERMA for even greater achievements in the future.

Now, for the first time, FERMA has selected its next president well ahead of the end of the current president’s term of office – allowing for a smooth and informed transition. Jo Willaert, who is one of three vice presidents, has taken on the position of deputy president and will follow me as president at the end of the 2015 Forum in Venice on 7 October.

We have our new executive committee, and the positions of secretary general (company secretary) and treasurer are now held by board members following the retirement of Pierre Sonigo and Fernand De Winter. We have role profiles for the new executive, so there is clarity on what is expected from each of us. There is more work to do in this area but we have made promising progress.

I also want to use this opportunity to acknowledge the work of Pierre and Fernand. Pierre has been an architect of the FERMA we have today, and Fernand helped us to manage our financial and operational affairs – both have worked in harmony with several presidents, including me, and with our Executive Director Florence Bindelle. We have grown and come a long way over this period and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

My priorities for this second year in office are consistent and remain “the profession, innovation and diversity” – and you will see continuation of our delivery against each of these objectives during the year and especially at our Forum.

Have a great 2015!

Jo Willaert, Deputy President and board member

Jo Willaert

Jo Willaert

My primary goals for 2015 fall under three main headings: supporting the launch of Certification, learning the new job and contributing to the success of the Forum.

As part of the Certification working group under the chairmanship of Michel Dennery and with Julia’s very active coaching, getting Certification off to a running start is one of my personal goals this year. I believe that through Certification we will be supporting our members in the development of the profession, because we will have a clearer definition of risk management and the skills and experience that are expected of a risk management professional.

Secondly, I am spending the next nine months learning the job of president and familiarising myself with the organisation of FERMA’s activities. As a vice president and board member, I am not a stranger to FERMA, but as president I will need a wider overview. In the past, the new president may only have had days between the election and changeover. Instead, I will be able to get off to an immediate start in Venice with my preparation done.

I will take advantage of the geographical proximity of my office near the motorway in Antwerp to spend time with the FERMA team, because I am often in Brussels for work.

Finally, the Forum is a very important event in the FERMA calendar and programme, and as a member of the executive committee, and in organising a workshop and discussions, I want to contribute to its success.

Michel Dennery, Vice President and board member, chairman of the Certification working group

Michel Dennery

Michel Dennery

At the Forum in Maastricht in 2013, we said that our goal was the launch Certification this year and to announce the first wave of certified risk managers at the 2015 Forum. We are now working on details of the business model, the marketing and communications, and we have appointed MCI as a marketing agency to help us with to launch of Certification. This is one of the most important projects which FERMA has ever undertaken and with European Certification we can move risk management from a discipline to a profession.

Diversity is also important to me. Our 2014 European Risk and Insurance Survey showed that only 27 % of the 850 risk managers who responded are women; I would have expected more. There really is no reason why women should not be as well represented as men in risk and insurance management, so I will support any opportunity FERMA has for action on diversity.

That diversity also needs to encompass our young risk professionals and the most experienced risk managers so that we are able to provide the range of views that organisations need to get a balanced view of the complex risks they have to manage.

Alessandro De Felice, Vice President and board member

Alessandro De Felice

Alessandro De Felice

For me as FERMA vice president and board member for Italy, creating a successful Forum is my principle goal this year. From 4-7 October, I will join other members of ANRA to welcome more than 1500 risk professionals to the Venice Lido for the 2015 FERMA Forum, and we want participants to come away believing they have gained professionally and personally from being there.

I am delighted that Generali, one of Europe’s most important companies in the commercial insurance market, will be our diamond sponsor. Trieste, where Generali has its historic headquarters, Genoa and Venice have been the cradle of European insurance and risk management from the 14th century thanks to their maritime and trading activities, so this is a very appropriate partnership for the most pan-European risk and insurance management event. Today, Venice is also a symbol for risk management as the huge project of mobile dams called MOSE works to mitigate the effects of global warming and rising sea levels on its historic buildings and keeps alive an entire area.

I am also proud that FERMA intends to award its first Certifications at the Forum whose key themes are “educate, inspire and influence.” I believe professional education is crucial to our taking risk management from a skilled discipline into a true profession.

Edwin V Meyer, Secretary General and board member

Edwin Meyer

Edwin Meyer

FERMA’s governance, risk and compliance (GRC) is the responsibility of the secretary general under Belgian law. We need to make sure that we have proper GRC measures in place and that we comply with our own byelaws and with all the legal requirements. Now that a board member is fulfilling this role, it has become an oversight function and the treasurer and I will assist the Executive Director, Florence Bindelle, as needed on issues related to administration, law, finance and human resources as non-executive directors.

I also remain a board member and my primary responsibility in 2015 is as chairman of the programme committee for the Forum. I am working with my colleagues on the committee to put the weight of the programme behind FERMA’s core activities, representing the views of its members with European institutions and acting as the voice of risk managers at European level. In this way, we make their collective views carry more weight.


Anders Esbjörnsson, Treasurer and board member

Anders Esbjornsson

Anders Esbjornsson

The job of treasurer was previously part of the operational team and now it is a board level responsibility. As such I have a supervisory and oversight role, in the way that the job of a finance director in companies today is more about leadership than operational matters.

We have two very important projects this year for FERMA and for me as treasurer in terms of FERMA’s financial control and security: the Forum which is the main source of our income and the launch of Certification.

In terms of what FERMA can do for its members this year, we will continue with our core objectives, and we can do more to spread knowledge of those activities to all our members and individual risk managers. I am not sure our members realise all the initiatives FERMA is doing on their behalf.