FERMA highlighted Jo’s chosen themes of education, leadership and communication during his time at the Federation and said they remain a driving force behind all they accomplish.
Dirk Wegener, current FERMA President, said: “We, the FERMA team and the entire European risk manager community, were shocked by the news that our dear friend, colleague and comrade Jo Willaert had passed away. Over the weekend, we received numerous messages from people expressing their dismay, grief and sadness, but also full of thankfulness and appreciation for his dedicated service to FERMA and our community. I, as well as many others, have lost a friend.”
During Jo’s time as FERMA President, the Federation represented the risk profession to European institutions and the OECD on issues such as natural catastrophe, GDPR, non-financial reporting, Solvency II and digital transformation.
In a message from Airmic’s chair Tracey Skinner, CEO John Ludlow and Deputy CEO Julia Graham, the Association said: “The Board and Secretariat are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Jo Willaert who was a respected leader in risk and insurance across Europe, a valued friend to so many, and a kind and giving person. His work at BELRIM and IFRIMA but especially his Presidency at FERMA, represented a great contribution to the development of our profession and the lives of those who benefited from his leadership.
“Jo was the epitome of a risk professional, helping to bring people together in a warm and welcoming way to collaborate more closely as colleagues and professionals. Jo’s emphasis on coaching and developing skills helped the careers of innumerable risk professionals from around Europe, for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. And at the end of the day, he always offered kind words of advice and good company, preferably over his favourite Gin and Tonic.
“Our thoughts are with Jo’s family at this time. He will be greatly missed, and we are grateful to have known him.”
A law graduate, Jo spent the first part of his career in broking with companies which eventually became part of Marsh and later with Aon. He joined the imaging solutions group Agfa-Gevaert in 2001, where as corporate risk manager he was in charge of the design of worldwide enterprise risk management and insurance programmes.
“We have all benefitted from Jo’s skills, his time and his enthusiasm,” said Typhaine Beaupérin, FERMA CEO. “He had a wonderful way of bringing people together, and he did so over his four years at FERMA President. He was a strong advocate for risk management and a friend to many. We will miss Jo very much and always remember him with gratitude and affection.”