Fielding Norton, the new group chief enterprise risk officer at XL Catlin, has an extensive background in Earth and planetary science, and that has proven useful in his insurance industry career. Mr Norton joined the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences in 1995 as it set up the Risk Prediction Initiative, a science and business partnership.

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Hurricanes and earthquakes could be described as the bread and butter of catastrophe insurance and reinsurance.

So having someone on the team with a deep knowledge of the mechanics of earthquakes and how climatic conditions can shift in devastating ways, has clear advantages.

That is what XL Catlin has with Fielding Norton, who has been promoted to the role of group chief enterprise risk officer. He has a long-time interest in the workings of the world that predates his entry into the insurance industry some 20 years ago.

Working in the insurance field was not on his mind when he studied for a degree in science, followed by a master’s in physics and later a PhD in Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University.

He initially became a teacher of science and maths at a high school near his home town of Kansas City. He had an aptitude for the profession and successfully paid for his last two years at university by teaching on the side.

“I never intended to be part of the insurance industry, that was fortuitous and by accident almost. I’ve always had a heavy interest and curiosity in the sciences and the maths. I’ve done those for ever, and I started as a science teacher,” he said.

However, his deep learning in applied physics and understanding the world’s climate system proved helpful in his transition into the field of insurance. The first step happened in Bermuda when Mr Norton joined the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences in 1995 as it set up the Risk Prediction Initiative, a science and business partnership.