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15 years of Science for Resilience


The Willis Research Network (WRN) was created in 2006 and celebrates its 15-year anniversary this year. Our 2021 WRN conference (18-20th May) looked back at 15 years of partnership with public science, and achievements along the way to develop practical, applied research that delivers innovative insights on risk and resilience. It also looked ahead at the challenges we still face. This page collates the conference plenary sessions, designed for a broad, not-necessarily technical audience, yet interested in how science is helping risk and resilience decision-making.

This page also provides a wide selection of further material: interviews, blogs, “tech-talks” and seminars on demand, for further insights into research projects.


Day 1: Weather, Climate and Flooding

Weather and flood related risks drive significant economic and insured natural catastrophe losses, posing considerable challenges across global insurance portfolios and large complex organisations, especially in the context of a changing climate. Since 2006, WRN partners have advanced understanding of these challenges and supported the development of practical solutions.

Session 1: The impact of Willis Research Network

Live session recording
  • Welcome and keynote address – reflecting on the impact of WRN on the industry
    This video focuses on the introduction to the conference and it is followed by James Vickers reflecting on the impact of WRN on the industry. Professor Dame Julia Slingo and Dr. Greg Holland also elaborate on climate change and the challenges ahead and the session is finished following a panel session moderated by Rowan Douglas.
Watch more

Session 2: Flood risks under the spotlight

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

In 2019, the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority challenged the insurance industry to stress test their portfolios for the impact of climate change. This regulatory push has been reinforced by investor pressures and a societal push within the market and put the flood risk in particular under the spotlight where academic insights provided the competitive edge. In 2021, the quest is still on, and the industry is leaning increasingly on academia for credible answers.

Moderator

Nalan Senol Cabi
Nalan Senol Cabi

Head of Flood Risks Research
Willis Research Network


Panellists

Prof. Chris Kilsby
Prof. Chris Kilsby

Professor of Hydrology and Climate Change
Newcastle University


Dr. Shie-Yui Liong
Dr. Shie-Yui Liong

Consultant to Tropical Marine Science Institute of
National University of Singapore


Richard Sanders
Richard Sanders

Executive Director
Willis Re


Dr. Timothy Fewtrell
Dr. Timothy Fewtrell

Regional Director
Willis Re


Dr. Jeff Czajkowski
Dr. Jeff Czajkowski

Director
National Association of Insurance Commissioners


Flood risks under the spotlight
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  • WRN Spotlight: Nalan Senol Cabi
    Nalan Senol Cabi is the Head of Flood Risks Research at Willis Research Network.
  • WRN Spotlight: Bessie Schwarz
    Bessie Schwarz is the CEO and Co-founder of Cloud to Street.
  • WRN Spotlight: Gabriele Villarini
    Gabriele Villarini reflects back on his time as a WRN Fellow at Princeton University and his interactions across the network providing an interdisciplinary approach to understanding risk.
  • WRN Spotlight: Paul Bates
    Professor Paul Bates, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Bristol and founder of Fathom discusses his position as a founding member of the Willis Research Network looking at applied flood research for the insurance industry.
  • WRN Spotlight: Chris Kilsby
    Professor Chris Kilsby from Newcastle University provides his views on the decade of work completed with the Willis Research Network looking at flood analysis and modelling.
  • WRN Spotlight: Yui Liong
    Shie-Yui Liong looks back on his time at WRN Partners the Tropical Marine Institute at the National University of Singapore.
  • WRN Spotlight: Tim Fewtrell
    Tim Fewtrell provides his thoughts on the evolution of the Willis Research Network.
  • Indonesia Flood Model
    Richard Sanders, Executive Director, Willis Re

Session 3: Weather and climate risk research: From  insight to impact

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

An overview of WRN's weather and climate research over the last 15 years, with a panel discussion including the academic speakers and representatives from Willis Towers Watson, who answered questions from the audience relating to research and current business applications.

Moderator

Geoffrey Saville
Geoffrey Saville

Head of Weather and Climate Risks Research
Willis Research Network


Panellists

Dr. James Done
Dr. James Done

National Center for Atmospheric Research


Prof. Dr Michael Kunz
Prof. Dr Michael Kunz

Karslruhe Institute of Technology


Dr. Tina Thomson
Dr. Tina Thomson

Head of Catastrophe Analytics EMEA West-South
Willis Towers Watson


Weather and climate risk research: From  insight to impact
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Day 2: Earth and Secondary Perils

The 10-year anniversary of Tohoku reminds us that earthquakes have unpredictable and devastating consequences and require in depth understanding of the science and physics behind them. It was also a reminder that so-called secondary perils need more focus alongside traditional risks.

Session 1: Less modelled perils: Future directions

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

Our panel session on Day 2 focused on volcanic, tsunami, and other secondary peril research and why they are lagging behind more established hazard modelling and what we need to do in order to improve our understanding of such risks.

Moderator

James Vickers
James Vickers

Chairman of Willis Re International


Panellists

Prof. Imamura
Prof. Imamura

IRIDeS
Tohoku University, Japan


Prof. Anawat Suppasri
Prof. Anawat Suppasri

IRIDeS
Tohoku University, Japan


Dr. Alejandro Martí
Dr. Alejandro Martí

CEO Mitiga Solutions
Barcelona, Spain


Prof. Tiziana Rossetto
Prof. Tiziana Rossetto

EPICentre
University College London


Dr. Graham Felce
Dr. Graham Felce

Divisional Director, Catastrophe Analytics Asia Pacific
Willis Re International


Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall

Global Client Relationship Director
Willis Towers Watson


Less modelled perils: Future directions
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  • Bridging the gap between Science and Academia
    Max Arizzi discusses strategic considerations on motivations of working with academia for developing a stronger view of risk.
  • The Portuguese risk landscape
    The Association of Portuguese Insurers (APS) provide their views on the current risk landscape and challenges of catastrophe risk to the Portuguese Re/insurance market.
  • Japan Tsunami Model
    Graham Felce introduces the tsunami model built with WRN input, and Koji Yamamoto discusses how the model has been used to support decision-making through case studies.

Session 2: Standard for global modelling with local impact

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

For the second panel session of the day we outlined the global public-private modelling initiatives and their application across different stakeholder communities, their benefits, and the requirements for developing, curating and sustaining global systems and tools, and in particular how these can be applied to support global, regional, and local risk assessment and risk reduction strategies.

Moderator

Matt Foote
Matt Foote

Director, Climate and Resilience Hub
Willis Towers Watson


Panellists

John Schneider
John Schneider

Global Earthquake Model Foundation


Prof. Paul Bates
Prof. Paul Bates

Cabot Institute for the Environment
University of Bristol


Dr. Emma Raven
Dr. Emma Raven

Principal Analyst
JBA Risk Management


Standard for global modelling with local impact
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Session 3: Seismic Risk: Aftershocks and Megashocks

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

Listen to an in-depth discussion on the role research can play in helping understand Seismic risk, including case study examples of applied work and the potential impacts to significantly improve the accuracy and range of projected losses for future large earthquake events.

Moderator

Prasad Gunturi
Prasad Gunturi

Executive Vice President
Willis Re


Panellists

Dr. Ross Stein
Dr. Ross Stein

CEO, Temblor


Prof. Kim Olsen
Prof. Kim Olsen

Department of Geological Sciences
San Diego State University


Dr. Myrto Papaspiliou
Dr. Myrto Papaspiliou

Lead Earthquake Specialist
Willis Re


Seismic Risk: Aftershocks and Megashocks
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Day 3: Emerging Risks, Future of Technology and Societal Resilience

The past year has shown the nature of risk is changing dramatically. New insights are needed as risk is recognised as increasingly interconnected and people and technology-driven, with discussions around “digital-first” and societal resilience taking centre stage.

Session 1: Emerging Risks

Live session recording

In preparation for the 2021 Willis Research Network conference, the Emerging Risks hub ran a survey looking to gain insight into the emerging risks on the agenda of clients, colleagues and industry across key themes. Lucy Stanbrough, Head of Emerging Risks for the Willis Research Network, introduces how outputs from this survey are being used to populate rich narrative scenarios that draw together and highlight the interconnections between drivers and risks. These scenarios formed the basis of discussion between panel members representing key perspectives to highlight risks, opportunities, and how science can be used to support awareness and understanding.

Moderator

Lucy Stanbrough
Lucy Stanbrough

Head of Emerging Risks Research,
Willis Research Network


Panellists

John M. Bremen
John M. Bremen

Managing Director, Human Capital & Benefits, and Global Head of
Thought Leadership and Innovation, Willis Towers Watson


Karen Larbey
Karen Larbey

Global Head of Industry, Aerospace,
Willis Towers Watson


Harjeet Dhillon
Harjeet Dhillon

Executive Director, Willis Re


Amalia Khachatryan
Amalia Khachatryan

Deputy Director & Head of Scenarios and
Policy Planning, Oxford Analytica


Dr Nina Seega
Dr Nina Seega

Research Director for Sustainable Finance at the Cambridge
Institute for Sustainability Leadership


Watch more

Session 2: The Digital Future

Live session recording
Panel session podcast

The next generation of technology will have profound implications for the way we work. The panel discussion brought together a number of perspectives on what the Digital Future means for technology.

Moderator

Fredrik Motzfeldt
Fredrik Motzfeldt

GB Regional Industry Leader for Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT)
Willis Towers Watson


Panellists

Stuart Calam
Stuart Calam

Programme Director of Willis Research Network
Head of Technology Risks Research


Heather Connery
Heather Connery

Corporate Risk and Broking (GB) Chief of Staff
Willis Towers Watson


Prof. Peter Kawalek
Prof. Peter Kawalek

Professor of Information Management, Director of the Centre for Information Management
Loughborough University


Mark Galgano
Mark Galgano

Digital Advisor
Microsoft


Jenn Kelly
Jenn Kelly

Senior Director, Embark & Embark for Total Rewards
Willis Towers Watson


The Digital Future
Watch more
  • Cyber attacks: from crime to nation-state tool of aggression
    The nature of our relationship with technology is increasingly complex and challenging and this evolution permeates across the risk landscape. Elisabeth Braw from the RUSI (Royal United Services Institute) Modern Deterrence Programme gives insight into the changing nature of cyber-attacks and what this means for business today.
  • Toward AI 2.0: Transfer Learning
    Taken from the TECHNGI & WRN Artificial Intelligence and Next Generation Insurance Services conference, David Lopez lecturer in Digital Economy at Exeter University provides perspectives on transfer learning as a cornerstone for implementing Artificial Intelligence.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Business Models
    Professor Chris Holland provides insight on the use of Artificial Intelligence in business models.
  • Panel session on Cyber Risk Management
    A panel session from the 2019 WRN Conference featuring Andrew Hall (Willis Towers Watson), Matt Palmer (Willis Towers Watson), Elisabeth Braw (RUSI - Modern Deterrence programme), Prof. Andrew Martin (University of Oxford - Cyber Security Centre) and Pete Cooper (Pavisade) providing a tour d’horizon of the top cyber risks and trends, reflecting on how organisations are currently managing those risks.
  • Willis Research Network Spotlight series: Alistair Milne
    Alistair Milne is a professor of financial economics at Loughborough University. He was previously at Cass Business School and also held positions at the Bank of England, the University of Surrey, London Business School, HM Treasury and the national statistics office of Malawi.
  • Quarterly InsurTech Briefing Q1 2021
    This briefing explores the InsurTech’s InsurTech initiatives and thought leaders focused on the future of product and service.
  • The Game of insurance - Tradeoffs in loss prevention and insurance
    Have you wondered how loss prevention affects your insurance costs? Brooks Kaiser will give insights to her empirical research on the understanding of the game of property insurance in the Danish market.

Session 3: Science for Resilience

Live session recording

COVID-19 made it clear that we must be prepared to expect the unexpected and change mindsets from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’. Our closing keynote address will be given by Lord Toby Harris, chairman of the National Preparedness Commission, who will share his thoughts on how stress tests and preparedness must be core to national and business strategy.

Panel session podcast

Our panel moderated by Hélène Galy, WRN Director, explored how the conversation is shifting from risk (and passive resilience) to active resilience (with its growth mindset), leading to a more positive evaluation of the business case for investment in resilience.

Moderator

Helene Galy
Helene Galy

Willis Research Network


Panellists

Lord Toby Harris
Lord Toby Harris

Chair of the National Preparedness Commission


Patricia Mackenzie
Patricia Mackenzie

Head of ERM
Willis Towers Watson


Tim Hodgson
Tim Hodgson

Co-head of the Thinking Ahead Institute
Willis Towers Watson


Professor Jim Hall
Professor Jim Hall

Director of Research in the School of Geography and the Environment


Simon Ruffle
Simon Ruffle

Director of Research & Innovation
Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies


Science for Resilience
Watch more
  • Automated Regulatory Compliance
    Prof. Alistair Milne, Professor of Financial Economics at Loughborough University discusses automated regulatory compliance and how lessons from RegTech in banking can be applied to the insurance industry.
  • Panel session on Geopolitical Risks and Trends
    Neal Croft (Willis Towers Watson), Sir Richard Shirreff (Strategia Worldwide), Paul Davison (Willis Towers Watson: Financial Solutions) and Amalia Khachatryan (Oxford Analytica) discuss top Geopolitical risks and trends, risk mitigation strategies and how better insights can turn risk into opportunity from our 2019 WRN Conference.
  • From Battlefield to Boardroom: Insights into geopolitical drivers of risk and opportunities
    Sir Richard Shirreff, NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Commander Europe, surveys the Geopolitical landscape and explores opportunities which boardrooms should consider in order to manage risk effectively.

Visit the Willis Research Network page for more information.


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