Air Worldwide's Ming Lee on his journey to the top

How did you make it to where you are today?

Quiet determination.

How has the industry changed since you first joined it?

Catastrophe modelling has changed dramatically in the past 15 years, both in breadth and depth. Greater breadth has come from the increasing use of analytics in decision-making, which has driven the adoption of modelling in all segments of the insurance value chain. More depth has come from the increasingly detailed data that we work with.

What are the key challenges ahead for you and the industry?

Communicating best practices on how to understand uncertainty and use model output. Users need to get away from looking for “the answer” from the models. Models are not black boxes, but organisations generating simple benchmarks from them, and using only those for decision-making, are treating them as such.

Equally, what are the biggest opportunities?

Advances in hardware and software will enable easier-to-use mapping and other intuitive interfaces, more horsepower to allow a qualitatively higher level of ‘what if’ analyses and, of course, faster performance.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in catastrophe modelling?

Acquire a deep understanding of insurers’ and reinsurers’ business issues.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Last summer, I hooked into a big tuna. I gave it too much slack and lost the darn fish.

What comes to mind when you think of your friends and contemporaries in the market?

The happiest ones are those that follow their passions.

Ming Lee is president and chief executive of risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide