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What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered?
As with all high tech products, catastrophe models have to
undergo constant innovation to remain state of the art and
incorporate the latest scientific advancements and data. The
recent North America earthquake model is an example. The
daily challenge is to get the right balance between the model
complexity needed to simulate the real world accurately on
the one side—and model performance and speed to market
on the other.
If you had chosen a different profession/career path, what
would it have been?
I grew up in a very sparsely populated area of Lower Saxony
with large forests, and I wanted to be a forester when I
left school. I did not get a university place for forestry, so
studying meteorology was a great second choice: it’s also
related to the natural world and both maths and physics are
Following my PhD I chose insurance to apply this scientific
understanding because it’s an industry that helps the world
become more resilient to catastrophe losses. Alternatively, I
could have gone into politics to drive decisions and policies
to tackle climate change.
“For someone fascinated by weather
and extreme events a modelling firm
serving the P&C insurance sector was a
Job title: Vice president, model product management,
2014: Vice president, model product management, RMS
2011: Senior director, model product management, RMS
2007: Director, model product management, RMS
2005: Director, software product manager, RMS
2001: Modeller, financial engines, RMS
After studying meteorology in Berlin, specialising in the
predictability of complex systems such as the weather
and climate, Christine Ziehmann joined RMS in 2001 as
a modeller writing code for financial engines. Since then
she has helped build the RMS simulation platform which is
the backbone of RMS’s new high definition (HD) models,
and led the team responsible for managing all its cat model
products and data. She is now focused on Asia-Pacific which
has significant growth opportunities for the industry.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I have been always fascinated by extremes, starting from my
school years when I witnessed the devastation of forests in
Lower Saxony in the 1970s. The roads became impassable due
to all the fallen trees and my whole school was fed by the
British forces that were still stationed in Northern Germany.
Into adulthood, and becoming a meteorologist, for someone
fascinated by weather and extreme events a modelling firm
serving the P&C insurance sector was a natural choice.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Contributing with my team to Version 17, RMS’s largest ever
model release including both North Atlantic hurricane and
North America earthquake model updates, along with a big
expansion of our Asia models. In terms of a single product, it
has to be the new RMS HD Japan typhoon model, which is
the most advanced typhoon model ever built for the industry,
with unprecedented market collaboration. It fascinates me.
During the development, I kind of fell in love with Japan and
Asia too. And in terms of catastrophes, Hurricane Sandy in 2012
was a huge event for our clients. I was part of the team supplying
them with critical information and modelling tools to assess losses.
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