March 27, 2020

Force for positive inclusion in insurance industry recognized with alumni award

Erik Johnson receives Risk Management and Insurance Alumni Award after starting his second-career journey with the Haskayne School of Business
Erik Johnson speaks at award ceremony Adrian Shellard, for the Haskayne School of Business

An injury put Erik Johnson, BComm’02 (RMIF), on a career path in an industry that helps others who have been hurt or have had a loss. Johnson grew up in Calgary but for his first post-secondary experience he went to Winnipeg, receiving his Ballet Diploma in 1996. He completed several Canadian tours with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but returned home to Calgary after an injury stopped his dancing career.

From ballet to business

Johnson started his second-career journey at the Haskayne School of Business with the joint concentration in Risk Management Insurance and Finance (RMIF). The risk management and insurance program at the University of Calgary has received global acclaim, being honoured with the Global Centers of Insurance Excellence (GCIE) designation from the International Insurance Society in 2017. UCalgary was one of 20 universities worldwide and the only Canadian university to receive this designation.

“The breadth of the Haskayne BComm has really helped me get into the strategic, planning and mergers and acquisitions work that I have done over my career,” says Johnson. “Knowing lots about risk and insurance, along with general business awareness is really beneficial.”

  • Photo above: Erik Johnson received the Haskayne Risk Management and Insurance Alumni Award. Photo by Adrian Shellard, for the Haskayne School of Business

Following his Haskayne BComm, Johnson went on to his MSc in Insurance and Risk Management and Insurance at the Cass Business School in London and continued his career in this major financial centre.

“The insurance industry provides you with opportunities to travel, progress and work in a sector of financial services where in the end, the product you sell helps people,” says Johnson of the field that has delivered a flourishing 20-year career. “The industry pays claims to get people and businesses back on their feet.”

Leadership in London

Known as a thought leader, Johnson has held roles at Lloyd’s of London, Allied World and is currently head of syndicate management and European distribution at Pioneer Underwriters.

“When I think of distinguished alumni in the areas of school support, community involvement and business success I can think of no better example than Erik,” says Tyler Bergh, BComm’02 (RMIN), who nominated Johnson for the Haskayne Risk Management and Insurance Alumni Award.

“Erik has long been a champion for diversity and inclusion in the industry.”

Erik Johnson, BComm’02 (RMIF) received the Haskayne Risk Management and Insurance Alumni Award

Adrian Shellard, for the Haskayne School of Business

Johnson describes himself as someone who steps up to help, and his extensive volunteer work clearly illustrates this commitment. He has given his time and expertise to the Chartered Insurance Institute, the Insurance Institute of London, the LGBT Insurance Network and the Insurance Cultural Awareness Network. He has also been a steering committee member of iDawn, the Insurance Disability, Ability and Wellbeing Network, working to improve disability inclusion and mental health.

In 2019, he received a special recognition award for his work with Dive In, the festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance where he has been involved in planning the overall strategy, and he also helped bring the event to Calgary. Johnson returned to Calgary as a panellist for the first Dive In event in 2019. Johnson credits his current employer for being fantastically supportive and able to see that his volunteer commitments to advance the industry can be very complimentary to his work.

The International Insurance Markets class, where Haskayne students travel to Bermuda and London to learn about the industry, has benefited from having him as a key contact. Johnson has served many roles: making presentations personally, connecting with colleagues to engage on emerging issues, serving as an emergency contact, and organizing a welcoming pub night for the students’ arrival in London to help adjust to the time difference.

Anne Kleffner, Erik Johnson and Michael Ilnycky at the awards luncheon on March 6, 2020.

Adrian Shellard, for the Haskayne School of Business

The Haskayne Risk Management and Insurance Alumni Award was presented on March 6, 2020. The award is presented every three years to an alumnus who has had career success.

Please note: This event took place before travel restrictions and physical distancing due to COVID-19 were put in place.