Breaking Free of “That’s How It’s Always Been Done!”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from George Washington University in 1973, Mitch Blaser entered the insurance industry as a staff accountant at Marsh & McLennan, where he rose to a position of executive leadership over the course of nearly three decades. In 2001, he joined Swiss Re Americas, a major reinsurance company, as CFO. Mitch Blaser accepted an offer from Ironshore, a startup insurance firm headquartered in Bermuda, to join its executive team in 2004, and he today serves as the COO of the global firm and as the CEO of its Bermuda operation.

The insurance industry, which has been a key player in the world’s economy for centuries, has developed ways of doing things that likely were cutting edge when they were first devised. Unfortunately, the industry has been slow to shed those ancient processes, and what may have been a cutting-edge process 200 years ago is today little more than a time-wasting anachronism. Consider, for example, the practice of paper applications completed by clients, with the information then integrated into the company’s database by manual keyboard entry or scanning, two approaches with a high potential for error. The industry deals with massive amounts of information, and even with the advent of sophisticated information technology, it has not successfully developed a way to manage that information efficiently.

In an article published in CapGemini, Mitchell Blaser explains that while most firms today are trying to manage the massive amount of information they must deal with, there are still significant problems, some related to data ownership by different teams, and others related to that part of the insurance business that relies on human expertise and judgment.

Ironshore has several divisions dealing with different types of insurance. Rather than have each division devote a portion of its resources to information management, the firm created a separate division, Ironserve, exclusively to serve each of the business entities by processing their data, standardizing the way information is processed and stored within Ironshore. The next step is for companies to work together to create an industrywide standard.

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George Washington University’s STEM Exhibit

Founding executive of Ironshore, Inc., Mitch Blaser holds the position of COO of the global firm, in addition to serving as CEO of Ironshore Insurance Ltd., Bermuda. Outside of his professional responsibilities, Mitchell Blaser sits on the board of advisors for George Washington University.

Created in 1821 based on a vision by George Washington to form an institution of higher education in the nation’s capital, George Washington University now has more than 20,000 students. Located only four blocks from the White House, George Washington University offers a unique location to put students in touch with leaders from a variety of fields and occupations.

In March 2014, the George Washington University hosted one of the largest exhibits of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The event, called Share Fair, brought together educators to share ideas and improve their teaching skills. The Share Fair focused on two themes: exploring new educational strategies and helping educators create a spark of interest in their students for STEM-related topics. The event attracts thousands of educators from all areas in every grade level and school type, including public, private, charter, and higher education institutions.

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GW Business School Narrows in on New Dean

George Washington University (GWU) School of Business alum and Ironshore, Inc., co-founder and Chief Operations Officer Mitch Blaser helps prepare the next generation of business leaders as chair of the GWU Business School Board of Advisors. The recipient of an MBA in finance from Pace University as well, Mitch Blaser maintains a long history of involvement in his undergraduate alma mater. Mitchell Blaser, who also chairs GWU’s Dean’s Committee and Parent’s Council, works with other GWU leaders to implement fundraising strategies and ensure a globally leading academic environment.

Administrators at the GWU School of Business are narrowing down the candidate field for the school’s next dean after the firing of former dean Doug Guthrie last fall. Guthrie was released for failing to resolve a $13 million budget gap. GWU officials will invite finalist candidates to the school for on-campus interviews in March and April.

In January, the student newspaper The GW Hatchet reported that fundraising dropped by more than a third following Guthrie’s release. GWU officials reported that the drop was expected. The school currently has an interim dean. An analysis of past fundraising histories shows that the fundraising loss under temporary leadership is nothing new. GW Law School, currently headed by interim dean Gregory Maggs, has experienced a fundraising dip of 43 percent in recent months, even through Maggs has worked at GWU as a professor for more than two decades.

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Ironshore Pursues Syndicate Partners, Enters Yacht Insurance Business

An experienced financial executive, Mitch Blaser left his job at a global reinsurer firm in 2005 to found a start-up. Today that start-up, known as Ironshore, Inc., operates as a global leader in the specialty insurance sector and maintains 24 offices staffed by more than 500 employees and located across seven countries. Mitch Blaser currently serves as the chief operations officer of Ironshore. Based at Ironshore’s Bermuda headquarters, Mitchell Blaser works with a global executive team to establish syndicated partnerships with innovative business enterprises.

In 2009, Ironshore founded Iron-Starr Excess Agency, Ltd., a general insurance agency joint venture formed with the CV Starr Group of Companies. Today, Iron-Starr offers both financial lines and excess casualty insurance from its base of operations in Bermuda. Ironshore, which grew its premium at a rapid pace of about 20 percent in 2012, seeks to continue this momentum by partnering with other syndicated businesses and further diversifying its variety of specialty insurances.

In February 2014, Ironshore announced one of its newest ventures, a partnership that will provide insurance for high-end boats, yachts, and mega yachts. Based out of Ironshore’s new Tampa, Florida office, this unit will bolster the company’s Personal Lines business serving high-net-worth homeowners.

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New Dean of the George Washington University School of Business

As chair of the George Washington University School of Business Board of Advisors, Mitch Blaser helps chart the direction of the school and ensure that it has the financial resources it needs to provide students with a world-class education. Mitchell Blaser has helped the incoming interim dean of the George Washington University School of Business, Dr. Christopher Kayes, transition into his new role.

Professor Christopher Kayes chairs the Department of Management at the George Washington University School of Business and also serves as a senior fellow at the university’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. In addition to his executive academic duties, Dr. Kayes plays a key role in fundraising efforts for the business school. He builds relationships with members of the business community, as well as alumni and parents of alumni, establishing the foundation for gift giving.

A published author or coauthor of four books, Dr. Kayes won the 2012 Outstanding Teaching Award for his work in the executive MBA program. He has also taught internationally at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, the Singapore Institute of Management, and other institutions of higher learning.

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George Washington University School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board

A standout figure in the insurance industry, Mitch Blaser helped found Ironshore, Inc., a worldwide specialty casualty insurance company, in 2006. He serves today as the firm’s COO as well as the CEO of its Bermuda operations. Mitch Blaser earned his BBA from George Washington University in 1973, and he currently serves as the chair of the university’s School of Business Dean’s Board of Advisors.

George Washington University enlists the talent and creative energy of its alumni to develop programs and initiatives to better serve students and the national community. The Dean’s Board of Advisors consists of alumni, parents, and friends of the business school. The board meets every semester and sponsors several programs in the spring. Board Chair Mitchell Blaser points out that the board offers a real opportunity to give back to the school in terms of talent, ideas, and leadership. As chair, he has formed several board committees for development, human resources, and the school’s career center. In another critical initiative, he developed a mentorship program that matches second-year MBA students with board members.

Blaser’s leadership encourages board members to give the school the benefits of monetary donations (wealth) combined with access to their wisdom and work experience. His objective with this “Three Ws” and his overall businesslike approach to conducting the board’s business helps the school rise to the top of the nation’s B-schools.

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Ironshore Insurance

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration from George Washington University, Mitch Blaser went on to study at New York City’s Pace University, where he earned his MBA in 1977. He has spent more than 30 years in the insurance and reinsurance industry, and he joined with other industry professionals to form Ironshore, Inc., a specialty property and casualty insurance company, in 2006. Mitchell Blaser serves as COO of the global firm and CEO of its Bermuda operation.
downloadFormed in the immediate aftermath of the stunning losses caused by Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, and Wilma and the sub-prime meltdown, Ironshore opened its doors in a challenging market with the intention of becoming a true insurance partner for its client companies. Ironshore does business in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia, Singapore, and Bermuda. It underwrites a broad range of traditional policies, including property cat, excess casualty, professional liability, healthcare liability, environmental, aviation, marine, healthcare, construction, energy, and general liability. Specialty lines include credit insurance, political risk insurance, war and political violence insurance, terrorism and sabotage insurance, and confiscation, expropriation, nationalization & deprivation (CEND) insurance.

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