MSRI Alumni Profiles
Read our alumni profiles to get a glimpse into the lives of our alumni and how their Butler MSRI degree has helped them succeed in the risk and insurance industry.
Tabitha Richardson enrolled in Butler’s Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) program, believing that to excel in her industry, she must be at the forefront of current trends and emerging best practices.
“Knowledge sets you apart,” Richardson said. “You can be a great wordsmith and salesperson, but most people who purchase insurance know nothing about it. They’re relying on you. There were a few instances early in my professional career where my not knowing cost my client money. I never wanted to make another mistake because I lacked knowledge. I always want to know what’s the latest and greatest.”
She’s currently the National Learning and Development Manager at the Marsh McLennan Agency, a promotion she received a few months after graduating from Butler in December 2021.
Like many in her field, Richardson stumbled into the commercial insurance industry fresh out of college. She quickly fell in love with her chosen field, partly because of the value her services provide to others.
“We don’t have to go through the same steps as a doctor or lawyer, but we uphold similar standards,” Richardson said. “Our clients often come to us and don’t know what they’re doing, so they put 100 percent of their trust in us to ensure their business or personal lives are protected.”
Initially, she contemplated pursuing a graduate-level degree in business and was even accepted into an MBA program when she discovered Butler’s MSRI.
“There are not a lot of schools that have programs at the graduate level for insurance. They are very limited,” Richardson said. “I thought I would get an MBA, but then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I could actually get a degree in insurance because that’s the industry I’m in and want to teach?’ That’s what I know.”
In her current role, she’s in charge of educating colleagues through the Marsh McLennan Agency on various topics under the umbrella of business insurance, which includes managing risk.
Richardson vets instructional resources, writes courses, and performs many other responsibilities. She is also a faculty member for the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research, where she gets to teach other insurance professionals.
At the heart of both roles, she must cater her messages to how different people absorb information.
“In the Butler program, you’re working with professors and dealing with professionals,” Richardson said. “I enjoyed observing the way that they taught. Everyone’s got a different learning style. I gleaned from the different methods they used to ensure we retained the information. It’s been useful at work to figure out how else we can pivot and broaden our approach to reach everyone who learns in different styles.”
Even though her classes were virtual, Richardson developed relationships with several like-minded individuals in her cohort.
“I am a self-proclaimed insurance nerd,” Richardson said. “That term is becoming more and more popular as people seek out degrees and specializations in insurance. I eat, sleep, and drink insurance. Butler presented an opportunity to be amongst my kind. I liken it to my very own Comic Con.”
Nathan Logan has built a successful career with Amerisure Insurance in risk management while based in the greater Indianapolis area for the last nine years. So, when he discovered Butler’s Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) program in 2020, he saw the opportunity as too good to pass up.
“Butler has a well-earned reputation in the insurance community,” Logan said, “so I jumped at the chance.”
On a personal level, Logan felt drawn to Butler. He grew up in the area and remembers field trips to Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the reason he picked Butler for his MSRI went well beyond his fondness for Bulldog athletics.
“At a practical level, the MSRI program was completely virtual and synchronous. I could learn from anywhere without disrupting my family or career,” Logan said. “I was also attracted to going through the program with a cohort of other professionals. The built-in peer group allowed us to learn together and push one another.
“That—coupled with the depth of everything that Butler offers and the overall value of their graduate-level education—made the program an easy choice.”
Amerisure promoted Logan to Risk Management Expertise Specialist in the spring of 2021.
In his role, he visits clients and connects with them in person to assess their true risk and counsel them on best practices. He also trains their employees and members of the management team. Now, in a lead role, Logan works with a team of other specialized risk management consultants at Amerisure.
“My focus is on property risk—a business’s physical assets, risks that can impact business continuity and income,” he said. “My ability to understand the bigger picture has placed me into a lead role opportunity.”
Throughout his career, Logan has achieved several designations and certifications that have ‘undoubtedly’ benefited him, but his time at Butler took his skillset to a new level.
“In my mind, returning to academics and obtaining a Master’s in Risk and Insurance really tied my knowledge base together,” Logan said. “It opened doors and further sharpened my knowledge and abilities. I also completed coursework as part of the degree that counted towards earning the CRM, CPCU, and ACI designations.”
Today, he’s also an adjunct professor with the Lacy School of Business, teaching a course in the MSRI program on Risk Control.
Logan is well aware of the talent shortage facing the industry, and he believes there are more opportunities than ever for risk management professionals to advance their careers, especially for those who’ve taken the initiative to pursue an advanced degree.
“I feel blessed to be in a position to give back with my time and energy,” Logan said, “to both an industry and institution that are just so important to me.”
Teaching is one of the ways he gives back. In Logan’s mind, there’s no greater gift he could offer.
“I love to learn. I love the process of it and its application,” Logan said. “Henry Ford is attributed with a quote, ‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.’ I plan to continue learning and stay young forever.”
Jen Blair spent nine years as a financial analyst at Bose Corporation. In 2015, she accepted a new challenge and became the company’s Global Risk and Insurance Manager with a mentor to learn from or industry-specific experience.
“My predecessor had already retired,” Blair said. “I showed up for the job after maternity leave and realized, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing, he’s gone and all I have left are his files.’ So, I leaned on our broker and external networks to learn what a risk manager’s role entails. That was a big learning curve.”
Through determination, she became successful in her new role, but a few years later, she still longed for foundational industry knowledge.
Then Blair came across Butler’s Master of Science in Risk and Insurance (MSRI) and saw the program as a perfect fit.
“I felt like I was missing the fundamentals of the role: contract negotiations, renewal strategies, and basic accounting,” Blair said. “When I saw the Butler program, I thought, ‘this is exactly what I need.’ It’s a comprehensive course of everything you could touch as a risk manager and a crash course in insurance.”
She already held an MBA when she enrolled at Butler, so she saw the MRSI program as much more than an opportunity to check a box on her resume by earning an advanced degree.
“The Butler program fit my life at the time and benefited my career as a risk professional,” Blair said. “It’s an important part of my story, too. There are opportunities out there. It’s never too late to go back to school and learn.”
For one, she picked up hands-on experience and gained insights directly applicable to her work at Bose.
“The capstone project was exciting because we explored new ideas to put into the Butler Captive,” Blair said. “It gave me a new perspective, and I could take the creative and untraditional practices I learned and apply them to our Captive.”
At Butler, Blair participated in a cohort of other students from various backgrounds. Some had recently finished their undergraduate degrees, while others entered after spending decades in risk management.
“It was great to build and develop new relationships,” Blair said. “The program and the professors were all wonderful and leaned on us students to help share our experiences and apply them to the foundations we were learning.”
Blair is an active speaker at country risk management conferences, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s also a member of the Massachusetts Risk and Insurance Management Society and the World Broker Advisory Council, so she’s always had strong networking skills.
Still, the new connections she made in Butler’s MSRI program proved invaluable.
“No risk manager’s job is the same, so it’s interesting to discuss work with fellow cohort members,” Blair said. “‘What are you doing? Should I be doing that differently?’ We took those relationships to a new level because you can pose questions I wouldn’t ask my carriers. As a result, I trust those folks, especially after working with them for 18 months.”