The Federation of European Risk Management Associations (FERMA) announced today that its immediate past president, Jo Willaert, has passed. Willaert held the title of president at the organisation from 2015, until he handed things over to the current president, Dirk Wegener, in November 2019.
“We, the FERMA team and the entire European risk manager community, were shocked by the news that our dear friend, colleague and comrade Jo Willaert had passed away,” said Dirk Wegener in a press release. “Over the weekend, we received numerous messages from people expressing their dismay, grief, and sadness, but also full of thankfulness and appreciation for his dedicated service to FERMA and our community. I, as well as many others, have lost a friend.”
Willaert’s areas of focus during his time as FERMA president included education, leadership, and communication, and these three themes have since stayed on as driving forces for the organisation. “It is a fine record to reflect on. We are grateful to Jo for his enormous contribution to FERMA and the risk management community,” said Wegener.
During Willaert’s time as president, FERMA represented risk managers with European institutions and the OECD on issues ranging from natural catastrophe, GDPR, and non-financial reporting, to Solvency II and digital transformation. The organisation also collaborated with other groups, like Insurance Europe, the brokers’ organisation BIPAR, and the internal auditors in ECIIA, with the aim of bettering communications about risk. Among Willaert’s accomplishments was the creation of the first European risk management certification, Rimap, in 2015.
“We have all benefitted from Jo’s skills, his time and his enthusiasm. He had a wonderful way of bringing people together, and he did so over his four years at FERMA president,” commented FERMA CEO Typhaine Beaupérin. “He was a strong advocate for risk management and a friend to many. We will miss Jo very much and always remember him with gratitude and affection.”
Before joining FERMA, Willaert was a law graduate, who spent the first part of his career in broking for companies that eventually became part of Marsh, and later with Aon. He was also a corporate risk manager at the imaging solutions group Agfa-Gevaert from 2001, where he was in charge of the design of worldwide enterprise risk management and insurance programmes, and served as a board member of the Belgian risk management association BELRIM, as well as being president of the International Federation of Risk Management Associations (IFRIMA) from 2017 to 2019.