From a career in the mud to a Dream job

From a career in the mud to a Dream job | Insurance Business America

From a career in the mud to a Dream job
Heather Turner and Will Koblensky

His career started in the mud.

Joshua Lintern began his career in environmental consulting for a small Toronto firm.

“Contaminated site investigation and remediation were my first real introduction to the risk management world, though I didn’t really see it that way at the time,” Lintern told Insurance Business.

From small time consulting he moved to environmental underwriting at Liberty International and began to mix an analytical approach with a human touch.

”You had to know the dirt on your risk and be bold enough to trust the partnerships you developed,” Lintern said.

It was a while later when he moved to Dream (then Dundee REIT), managing its environmental risk department in a time of rapid growth.

Dream expanded fourfold over Lintern’s three years there, buying or acquiring $12 billion in Canadian and German real estate.

By the time Dream had reached maturity, it was a $15 billion company.

“Gradually, my role with Dream expanded to include more operational risk transfer beyond environmental for what would ultimately include five publically traded companies,” Lintern said.

Lintern took over from his then mentor, Colleen Murchie, to run the risk management department after she retired.

“The two years since that moment have been some of the best of my life,” he said. “Things are moving faster than ever and we couldn’t be more excited.”

At least part of that excitement is fueled by a rapidly changing landscape beyond the office.

Risk managers are facing a more tenuous world than they’ve ever seen before, according to Lintern.

“Everyone is grappling with climate change risk, cyber-attacks, continued global economic uncertainty, commodity shock, political curve balls and the amorphous face of global terror,” Lintern said.

All of these earth-shaking issues are, as Lintern points out, are manmade and difficult to gauge using traditional indicators.

Because Dream is a major real estate owner, their highest casualty risk is in property.

“I am currently most interested in the intersection of those large scope issues and the traditional categories of risk we are used to in the real estate space,” Lintern said. “I want to know what is changing fast, and whether our current structures and operations can thoughtfully adapt.”

New realities are butting heads with old institutions, creating the kind of conflicting paradigm intersection that’s anecdotal of a changing world.

For example, cyber risk is causing concrete damage beyond privacy breaches and digital financial losses.

Though cyber risk has been top of mind for some time, its effect on driverless cars, or other automated infrastructure, is just now being explored.

“Are you covered if a cyber-attack destroys a critical component in your building?” Lintern asked. “Are you liable if the failure of that component injures or otherwise harms your tenants or visitors?”

Lintern believes these questions are becoming increasingly pressing.

If thousands of security cameras can be shanghaied for a DDoS attack, then a future full of smart buildings could face huge risks.

A risky world requires robust insurance.

Lintern describes his criteria for coverage as “non-negotiable.”

“We look for transparency. No transparency means no trust, and without that you are shackled and unable to unlock the deeper value of your partnerships,” Lintern said, adding that the sun is setting on “black box” provisions.

“We look for people with a laser-guided operational focus on the grit and details of their industry,” Lintern said.

Though a good pitch is important, it pales in comparison to actually delivering the service that was pitched in the first place, Lintern said.

“It takes an understanding of both provider and client operations to pull that off,” Lintern said. “Be smart, know what your client needs before they do, and deliver it in their language.”

Entrepreneurialism is the final necessary box Lintern needs to check when he’s looking at insurance companies.

“We look for partners that develop creative, unconventional responses to those challenges and achieve the best results for everyone involved,” he remarked. “Those results should include more than just a risk transfer; what other doors can be opened on the way to placing this risk?”

Dream’s own entrepreneurial aims are to stay valuable in clients’ eyes.

Sharing knowledge throughout the company is one technique it is using to grow their awareness about the risk management industry.

“We are bringing our risk transfer partners to the table outside of traditional silos to leverage their expertise and platforms.” Lintern said. “Any way to drive value beyond traditionally understood risk management is on the table right now.”

Of all Dream’s accomplishments, Lintern said he’s most proud of their risk management program thriving in a mutually beneficial environment with other companies in their market.

“Sharing in the building and successful operation of that ecosystem has been a fantastic exercise, one motivated entirely by a series of shared values and common goals,” Lintern said. “We have the benefit of our partners’ trust, their respect, and their support.”