Unrisky Business

December 22, 2006


That statement says a lot about the 1980 graduate who used to use his dynamic voice as public address announcer at OBU basketball games. Mair has made it to the top of the list of experts on risk management, but there was a time when OBU professors wondered if he would make it out of their classes.

"I'm sure Bill Mitchell thought he was chiseling the Rosetta Stone with a toothpick when he had me in his class," said Mair, who now serves as area vice president of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s Itasca, Illinois, nonprofit and religious practice group.

The Ponca City native leads a group of professionals in design and delivery of innovative ministry protection, risk management and property and casualty insurance programs. AJG is the world's fourth-largest insurance broker, according to Business Insurance magazine.

"Basically, I try to keep bad things from happening to God's people," said Mair. "It's amazing how I've come full circle as far as being involved in ministry opportunities. What I do now is like going back to my roots. I consult ministries on how to protect their resources."

Mair started his career working with the United States Olympic Committee, serving 15 years with the organization and 13 as associate director for risk management. He developed the USOC risk management program, making it a model system with national and international recognition.

Mair also served as a risk management consultant to the USOC's member organizations and affiliates. His work at the Olympic events included managing the administrative headquarters, coordinating security and handling claims.

Growing up as a professed "gym rat," his service with the Olympics fed his love for sports.

"Being a part of one of the most successful sports organizations in the world was a dream come true," he said. "I helped put athletes on the medal stands, and it was a lifetime opportunity I will always cherish."

Sports were a major part of his college experience. Mair was involved with Bison athletics, working as a P.A. announcer at the basketball games and helping as a manager with the volleyball team. He continued announcing basketball games for three years after he graduated, while attending graduate school at the University of Oklahoma.

Near the completion of his master's degree, Mair started working with the USOC as an intern. He was hired by the committee, and soon took over a fledgling risk management program.

His reputation as a risk management expert began to grow, and gained him international attention. Mair was elected the 43rd president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, recognized as the largest association of professional risk managers worldwide.

Having completed his term as RIMS president in May 2002, Mair now serves as vice president for international development. He also has served as president of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, which provides risk management education and support for more than 20,000 nonprofit and public entities.

Prior to joining AJG, Mair led Risk Excellence, a strategic risk consulting firm in Melbourne, Fla. He worked with companies ranging from the Fortune 1000 to local nonprofit associations.

Mair travels the world as a speaker and authority on strategic risks facing business in today's changing environment. He has testified before Congress, has been quoted in the Washington Post and appeared on National Public Radio. He also has served as a resource for the New York Times, The Economist and Business Insurance.

So how did the gym rat go from the basketball court to appearing on Capitol Hill?

"My time at OBU was a great source of training," he said. "I think of the courses I took and how I was challenged to think critically. Professors like Max Brattin and Shirley Jones were great influences in my life, and what's so great about the make-up of OBU is the professors are not only instructors; they are friends who took genuine interest in my education."