EP 34 – From Rocket Science to AI: Data, Decisions, and Crafting the Future of Insurance – Dr. Christian B. Westermann – Global Head of AI at Zurich Insurance

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Michael Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.  Michael lived and worked in Tokyo from February 1990 until December 2011.  Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth. Michael is a leader in the digital media space, building one of the biggest and fastest-growing podcast listener bases in the region.  His AsiaTechPodcast.com show has listeners in more than 130 countries and his company, Michael Waitze Media produces some of Asia’s most popular podcasts.

Christian is a technology enthusiast who has worked in different technology roles and positions over the past 20 years. After having spent several years in software engineering in the early 2000s, he started in 2005 his career in consulting. In this role he has supported many companies on their journey towards technology and AI-driven innovation, in financial services, healthcare, pharma, health, defense and industrial manufacturing. In 2022, Christian joined Zurich Insurance Ltd. as Group Head of Artificial Intelligence. In this role he has found a great place to further push the technology boundaries in the core processes of insurance, along the entire value chain, with the use of AI and latest technology trends in Generative AI, for the benefits of Zurich’s customers. Christian’s background is in space science. He has a PhD in Physics and has supported ESA and NASA on several space missions.

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“And when then basically ChatGPT was announced, we all have access also our senior management has access and everybody could explore AI for the first time. It was like a shock for all of us, but a shock in a very, very positive sense. So we knew immediately that is the technology that we need. That is exactly what will make a difference..” – Christian Westermann

In this episode of InsurTech Amplified, Dr. Christian Westermann shared his fascinating journey from being a physicist specializing in space science to becoming the Group Head of AI at Zurich Insurance. His narrative underscores the value of a multidisciplinary approach, highlighting how diverse experiences in different sectors can significantly enhance one’s problem-solving capabilities and adaptability. Transitioning from technical roles in space missions to tackling technological challenges in the insurance industry, Christian’s career exemplifies the dynamic nature of professional growth and the importance of staying attuned to evolving industry trends.

Christian also explored the evolving, transformative role of AI in the insurance industry. His insights into the integration of tools like ChatGPT at Zurich Insurance illustrated the profound impact of AI on traditional business operations, emphasizing efficiency and innovation in processing and understanding complex data. Moreover, he expressed a balanced perspective on the potential risks associated with AI, such as data biases and the necessity for rigorous risk management. Through his experiences, Christian highlighted the critical need for continuous learning and adaptation, offering a blueprint for professionals aiming to leverage technology to solve complex industry challenges.

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