She has changed the world of risk analysis
Andrea Keenan (pictured) is originally from Philadelphia, but that was never really where she wanted to end up. She wanted to go international. Keenan earned herself a bachelor’s and master’s degree in international relations, with a focus on economics – but her dreams were set on the international stage.
Keenan’s career began in Washington, D.C., where she imagined she’d immerse herself in global affairs. Instead, she married and moved to New York, where she landed a job as an economist for Toyota Corporation. She had left Philly, and was working for an international business, but it still felt local to Keenan.
“The focus was on the US economy, which I found incredibly dull relative to my passion for international things,” she said.
Meanwhile, AM Best, a credit ratings agency that focuses on the insurance industry, was following its passion for international things, too. Specifically, it was on the lookout for someone who could understand country risk.
“AM Best at the time – this was in 2000 – was expanding the reach of its ratings to domiciles that were ever less predictable, put it that way, like Egypt and India and Mexico and there needed to be understanding as to how to do it,” Keenan explained. “While people like me would have been very easy to find in Washington, DC, I was a transplant. I moved over to AM Best to be the first-ever country risk analyst at the company.”
From there, Keenan, now the executive vice president and chief strategy officer at AM Best, would go on to change the world. When it came to risk analysis at least.
“And I came in very pure with a very pure experience in international cultures and economies. I designed our first ever country risk model and was our first ever country risk analyst,” Keenan said.
AM Best’s foresight in realizing the importance of country risk analysis and Keenan’s timely intervention and expertise brought about a revolution in how ratings were approached. “AM Best clearly knew that there was a need, and I had the good fortune of being able to come in and design it,” she said.
An ever-evolving insurance landscape
The insurance industry has a far-reaching impact, touching countless lives and shaping economies. AM Best is dedicated not just to maintaining its position in the United States, but also to expanding its footprint in emerging markets, ensuring these nations benefit from better protection, and helping bridge the protection gap.
Keenan recalled her involvement in Latin America, specifically detailing how AM Best flourished in Mexico due to the changing legislative landscape. Although moving there was a test of dedication as she had to leave her family behind, moving to the heart of the market she was trying to penetrate was essential.
“It was a really enjoyable experience because I had the gift of focus,” she said. “Every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner, every interaction was for the sole purpose of getting this off the ground.”
This move was more than just a professional endeavor; it was an immersion into a vibrant culture and community. Ironically, it reminded her of home. The one she never wanted to end up in.
“It reminds me a bit of my Philadelphia where some of the personalities and so much incredible history just surrounds you,” she said.
From the tales of the indigenous people to the remnants of the Spaniards, history is alive and palpable in every corner. However, amid all the culture and history, there’s one thing that stood out most for Keenan: the food.
With a touch of humour, she adds: “But the food – the food’s incredible.”
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