12 Qs with Jack Gibson, President & CEO at IRMI and CEO of WebCE

4 min read
April 29, 2021

12 Questions with Jack Gibson

Welcome to 12 Questions, a Q&A series where we pose the same set of 12 questions to intriguing folks at the intersection of insurance, risk management, commercial real estate, and digital innovation. 

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This week, we chat with Jack Gibson, President & CEO at International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) and CEO at WebCE.

1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?

I’m not sure that this qualifies as an “idea” exactly, but I have been much focused on adult learning recently. It is interesting to me how people today learn better in small bites than with big chunks of information. Additionally, people need to be exposed to concepts more than once to retain them over the long term.  Meanwhile, most insurance industry teaching and training is still provided in big chunks of material with little or no reinforcement at a later date.

At MindForge and WebCE (IRMI subsidiary companies), we are developing training programs based on the latest adult learning principles using micro-courses and reinforcements provided on virtual platforms. We are excited about these programs and believe they can be game-changers in risk management and insurance training and education.

2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?

People are looking but I don’t think we have yet fully comprehended the many dimensions of cyber risk. It is pervasive in modern society and the most technologically advanced countries and companies are most at risk. Major cyber events could have devastating impacts on our economy and our lives.

3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?

I’d change the public perception of the insurance industry from a money-grubbing business filled with boring jobs to the reality of what it is: a diverse and exciting industry that continuously works to save lives and livelihoods.

4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?

Frankly, I get the biggest thrill from creating great jobs at our companies that pay well and provide meaningful work for people to do. I love family events where we see all the spouses and kids our companies are supporting.

I also love that we help our insurance industry customers be the best they can be at managing and insuring risk. It’s been very rewarding and humbling over the years, for example, when insurance agency principals have told me that the concepts, tactics, and practices that they learned from IRMI were major factors in the success of their firms.

5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?

I’m quite optimistic about the next twelve months. Most importantly, it appears we will gain control over the pandemic by July in the US and by year-end throughout most of the world. Pent-up demand (especially for travel, entertainment, and leisure) will then be released and power the economy into a major growth mode. I hope to see a bipartisan infrastructure bill pass that will further lift the economy while strengthening the long-term competitive position of the United States.

6. What’s your favorite building?

The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center because of the central role it played in the space program.

7. Please dispel a myth or misconception about your work.

Because our largest educational conference and some of our bestselling reference resources focus on risk management and insurance for the construction industry, many insurance professionals think IRMI only educates and has content on construction risk and insurance. In fact, IRMI has always focused on a broad array of risk management and insurance issues for all industries. We also have three other industry focuses in addition to construction: agribusiness, energy, and transportation. IRMI is not only a construction risk management education company!

8. What are the tools, apps, or gadgets that you just can’t live without?

At this point, I don’t think any of us can live without the Internet. Over my 40 years at IRMI, I guided the transformation of a publisher of print reference products and educational programming into an Internet company that provides information and continuing education digitally. The COVID-19 pandemic further paved the way to transform live educational conferences into virtual programs, and I believe that there will always be an element of this in professional events in the future.

On a more micro-level, Microsoft Teams became the most important communication tool in our playbook during the pandemic. Our ability to communicate with team members and maintain their morale during these difficult times would have been greatly impaired without it or a similar tool, such as Zoom.

9. What’s your biggest pleasant surprise related to remote work?

While the move to remote work came with many challenges and some headaches, there were also a number of pleasant surprises. Probably my biggest one was how well our colleagues maintained productivity as we transitioned to remote work. Fortunately, our high availability and disaster recovery planning already positioned us for everyone to work remotely. When we made the call last March, the company didn’t skip a beat, and productivity hasn’t declined as the months went by.

Our plan is to employ a hybrid work environment in the future with which employees can telework several days a week and come to the office the other days. My hope is that this approach will allow us the benefits of teleworking while maintaining our terrific company culture.

10. What’s your favorite productivity tip for staying motivated and getting work done?

I schedule quiet time with no meetings or calls to give opportunities to think and complete tasks. Without doing this, my days would be filled with meetings and calls.

11. What or who do you read to keep informed?

I read the Wall Street Journal, and my favorite columnists are Peggy Noonan and Holman Jenkins for opinion pieces.

12. Nominate 2 people who should answer this next. Why?

Gary Kaplan at AXA-XL because he is thoughtful, innovative, and smart.

Pat Gallagher at AJ Gallagher because he has great insight into the insurance industry and is likely to have an interesting perspective on some of these questions.

Thank you to Fred Kipperman, Managing Director of Archipelago, for inviting Jack to answer 12 Questions.

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