Swiss Re on passion and making every minute count

On January 18th, the London startup community came together at the 2016 MassChallenge Awards and Fun(d)raiser, sponsored by Swiss Re. Taking centre stage, was Dan Ryan, Head of Digital Catalysts and MD at Swiss Re, who delivered an inspirational speech to a crowd of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and more.

Passion was at the centre of Dan’s presentation. He told the motivating story of Switzerland’s first president, Alfred Escher, whose image was proudly displayed on screens around the venue.

Dan explained how Escher, who became president in 1848, didn’t want Switzerland to be left behind at a time of revolution in Europe. He had an idea. And that idea was to build the Gotthard Tunnel. To make his passion a reality he needed people with the skills set to build a tunnel. So he set up a university specialising in physicists. He then founded Credit Suisse to provide the funding, Swiss Life for insurance and Swiss Re, because he knew the risks would be huge. By bringing together insurance, banking, and excellence, Esher was the founder of modern Switzerland. A fantastic example of how passion can drive innovation.

The theme of passion continued with a passionately delivered quote, which Dan read out from ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.   

He explained that time is the great enemy of the entrepreneur and the ideas we have today need to be pushed forward and developed, as no one is going to wait. A statement Alfred Escher demonstrated. No one knows this better than our entrepreneurs - but are we doing everything we can with each 60 seconds?

A huge thank you to Dan for challenging us to face the enemy of time and come out winning. Thanks also to Swiss Re for sponsoring the evening. You truly made it a night to remember.