“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape.” – Superman
That is NOT Peter’s favorite quote. (We will get to that detail later.) But if you speak with Peter’s colleagues, associates, and many friends in the re/insurance business, as we have in preparing this article, you quickly understand that Peter is a superhero to all. What is his superpower? Quite simply—the seemingly innate and effortless way that he brings out the best in others. Whether you worked with him at a company, on an arbitration or mediation of a dispute, or on AIRROC Matters (now AIRROC Update), you knew you were working with a man who brought intellectual curiosity, insight, tenacity and creativity to any problem or dispute. (If you asked him what his kryptonite was, we suspect he would say it was people who displayed the opposite tendencies— but he always sees the best in people first.)
We see his lifelong interests reflected in his educational background; he started as a music major at Rutgers University, then switched his major to Slavic Languages and Literature, with a minor in Education. After graduation, he flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher but instead went on to pursue postgraduate studies at Rutgers Law School, Camden, where he met his wife Paula Weiss (and Bob Turrin, one of his most recent colleagues at Chubb). After a one-year judicial clerkship, he joined the law firm of Pitney Hardin Kipp & Szuch, which, at the time, was national coordinating counsel for Raybestos Manhattan (ultimately known as Raymark). In addition to the usual mundane and emergent facets of multistate litigation, Peter was responsible for coordinating the Raybestos document reviews conducted by plaintiffs’ lawyers from across the country.
During this time, he was greatly influenced by an ADR course he pursued at Harvard, having already decided that he did not want to be a frontline litigator. In 1985, he was recruited by Scott Goodell (a former litigation associate colleague at Pitney) to join his first of many runoff operations, American Centennial Insurance Company, where he served as General Counsel negotiating and settling insurance and reinsurance disputes. (Fun fact: Andy Rothseid succeeded him in that position.) It was during his 12-year stint with American Centennial that he worked closely with reinsurance lawyers and many industry arbitrators. Peter thanks Scott Goodell, again, for his next position in a runoff capacity at AIG in 1998, where he handled captive insurance and reinsurance business, and auto warranty runoff. By then, Scott worked for a worldwide broker, and had been asked by his client AIG if he knew anyone who could manage runoff business. Peter’s next success came when he was tagged to manage a book of AIG’s runoff Surety business; they ultimately promoted him to Profit Center Manager of the entire Surety Division.
By now, Peter had the runoff and ADR bug in him and in 2005 decided to venture into business for himself. For ten years he ran a thriving business as a full-time arbitrator and mediator for his company, Conflict Resolved, LLC. He was also the first and long-serving Editor of AIRROC Matters; instrumental in charting both the substantive and creative direction of the publication. Check out the début issue in the archives section under AIRROC Update to see the vision that Peter laid out for the publication. With the advent of the financial crisis in 2008, ADR cases shrunk, and Peter made another bold career move to go in-house with ACE (now Chubb), where he applied himself in his characteristic exceptional way. Christy Russell, Senior VP Reinsurance at Chubb, will tell you she cannot fathom how she got lucky enough to lure Peter back to corporate life. But she did, and he joined the Brandywine Division of Chubb (then ACE Brandywine) as AVP of Reinsurance in 2014. During his 7 ½ year tenure, he held the position of AVP, VP and ultimately Senior Collections Officer.
On August 2, 2021, Peter retired to the great dismay of his Chubb co-workers and industry colleagues. It is our good fortune that Peter plans to stay involved in AIRROC as a member of the Digital Content Committee. He also intends to pursue some of his other interests such as co-authoring a book on vocal training and performance techniques with his former vocal instructor. He will also continue his current gig performing in the Festival Chorus with the Philly Pops Orchestra at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. One special note: AIRROC and Chubb arranged, as a going-away gift to have long-time AIRROC artist, Rafael Edwards produce the portrait that heads up this article.
Not to be remiss in completing our usual interrogatories to Spotlight subjects, we queried him on our favorite topics. For the most part, we quote them in full as we defer to him as the Zen master on these matters.
What lessons have you learned in your career?
There are many lessons:
- First and foremost, IT and social media advancements notwithstanding, legacy is still a people business, and you live and die by the strength of trusted connections you make and your reputation and integrity in the business.
- Second, before you expend time and energy trying to prove your adversary wrong, spend intellectual energy and show genuine curiosity to understand why they think they are right. Let them know you hear and understand them, and they will tell you all you need to know to work through your issues.
- Third, you forge more secure and lasting agreements looking for a solution together with your adversary than you do telling them what the right answer is.
- Fourth, don’t just dismiss your mistakes: take them apart and understand how they occurred, so you can learn and grow.
- Fifth, if you want to lead, share your knowledge and help others succeed; your success will naturally follow.
What did you like best/worst about your last position?
I enjoy that new and complex issues continue to evolve in our business. I enjoy having candid and open conversations with my counterparts, especially those who are looking for an acceptable resolution, not a never-ending battle. I enjoy seeing and interacting with people in the business at AIRROC and other events on a personal, non-business level.
While it is occasionally necessary, I dislike the time, expense and occasional adverse results of a protracted arbitrated or litigated battle with an adversary that does not seem to be interested in having an honest, good faith dialogue and reaching a creative, acceptable resolution.
What industry publications do you read on a regular basis?
The AIRROC digital newsletter, emails and blogs from companies, lawyers and people in the business.
What educational sessions or conferences do you attend and why?
AIRROC Conferences, ARIAS Conferences -they are attended by most of the people you must interact with in the business. It gives you an opportunity to see them on a personal level and forge strong acquaintances and friendships.
What is your favorite book?
Non-fiction: Getting to Yes by Roger Fischer and William Ury.
Fiction: The Source by James Mitchner.
What is your favorite quote?
“Diplomacy is the art of letting the other side have it your way.”
What is your favorite leadership manual/book?
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I have been singing as a bass/baritone in choirs all my life, and currently in the festival chorus that performs regularly with the Philly Pops Orchestra at the Kimmel Center in Center City.
What sorts of trends do you see in the industry?
Using me as an example, the “old guard” people who got into the American run off business in the 1980’s are retiring out of the work force, increasing the need for younger, smarter people to join the business. More people are hiding behind two-dimensional emails instead of having candid three-dimensional conversations with counterparties.
What was your first impression of AIRROC when you first became involved?
It was a breath of fresh air and a boost in legitimacy for the legacy business, which at the time was an industry under reputational attack, despite the productive work of experts in the field.
If you could change one thing about AIRROC, what would it be?
I can’t think of anything to change. The organization has operated effectively and professionally for many years, has listened to its constituents, and morphed and grown as needed, and it has been managed by a solid board of directors and two hard-working and intrepid executive directors.
The interest in AIRROC seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
People in the business and elsewhere have come to recognize its impact on the legacy space, the value of knowledge and learning it presents, the effectiveness and efficiency of the communication channels and deal making platforms it offers, and the general view that it is “the place” for all things legacy.
What would you like to see in the AIRROC newsletter?
More regular features on topics like:
- Deal of the Month: review the terms of impressive, publicly available transactions.
- Negotiation skills for success: monthly discussion of negotiation tips to use for frequently recurring issues.
- Mistakes exhumed and understood: take apart a transaction that had problems due to a strategic or financial error [perhaps submitted anonymously from readers] and show how it was resolved.
- What would you do if…?: present a hypothetical set of circumstances in one issue and ask the reader to think about what they would do. Present possible solutions in the next issue, possibly asking the readers to submit their suggestions, which would also be published anonymously.
As you can see, Peter’s inspiration is at work with regard to this Spotlight issue. “Clark Kent” will continue to work with us on AIRROC Update and will provide insights through articles for our readership and for your listening pleasure via the NextGen Task Force new podcast series, The Legacy Life, which will go live September 8th. Please tune in to the first episode, which will feature Peter.
AIRROC Update also plans to launch a new series by Peter entitled “Negotiation Strategies: Tips for Establishing Connection and Optimizing Results.” So please be sure to check out upcoming issues of AIRROC Update.
Just as Carolyn Fahey concluded the remarks made by a host of colleagues who joined the Chubb virtual going away party organized by Brendan McQuiggan, VP Reinsurance at Brandywine, we leave you with a link to her salute:
We also have collected some accolades, stories and comments on Peter’s career from some of his colleagues and friends. If we missed anybody, we invite you to share your sentiments, favorite memories, or revelations regarding Peter. Please submit your message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be posting your submission on our website. As the famous tag line from Peter’s Editor’s Notes would state, let us hear from you!
Please join all of us at AIRROC in toasting Peter and wishing him well in his future adventures.