A former U.S. Navy submarine warfare officer and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Tim Fischer enhanced his technically-focused education with an MBA from the Belk College of Business. A better understanding of finance has helped Fischer communicate risk to various corporate stakeholders. Today, Fischer is Chief Risk Officer of BWX Technologies, the government and nuclear operations unit of what was previously called Babcock & Wilcox.
Why did you choose UNC Charlotte for your MBA?
As a full-time working professional in Charlotte, I found UNC Charlotte offered the best all-around education, value and convenience compared to other part-time MBA programs. And since Charlotte has such a strong financial presence I knew my classmates and faculty would contribute a high degree of experience and knowledge to the program.
What opportunities did UNC Charlotte provide to you as a student?
Although my work schedule made it challenging to participate in student activities, I took advantage of the MBA program’s one-week study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa. It was not only one of my best MBA experiences, but one of my best life experiences. Studying abroad allowed me the opportunity to enhance my own cultural awareness and network with classmates while learning in an international environment. This was a tremendous opportunity UNC Charlotte made possible. Several of my classmates on that trip remain very good friends of mine today.
What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
In addition to the study abroad experience in South Africa, I found the program’s capstone class was one of the most educational and fulfilling experiences in the MBA program. The course tied together all aspects of the MBA program with the end goal of having our team create and present a fully developed business plan for a fictitious start-up company. Interestingly, what resonated most with me occurred during the presentation phase where the professor and students were able to identify weaknesses, offer suggestions, and challenge aspects of our plan—reinforcing the concept that you often learn more from shortcomings than success. Also, hearing such great ideas from our classmates makes one realize why diversity—in regards to both people and ideas—is such a vital concept to be successful in business.
Tell us about your blended background in energy, business and insurance.
As a former U.S. Navy submarine warfare officer, my background and previous education was very technically-focused. However, I joined the commercial insurance brokerage firm, Marsh, which has a track record for hiring and training former nuclear navy engineers to become insurance brokers and risk consultants. Our team’s purpose was to identify and analyze utility clients’ risks associated with owning and operating power generating assets. We then help to utilize insurance to help mitigate risks and maintain regulatory compliance. This afforded me the perfect opportunity to leverage my engineering experience in the corporate business world.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
Earning my MBA equipped me with the knowledge and confidence necessary to succeed in a hypercompetitive business environment. UNC Charlotte has done an outstanding job of forming international partnerships that allow for an internationally diverse student body, which inevitably promotes opportunities for MBA candidates to learn about and engage with various cultures—this is a critical skill in today’s global economy.
Tell us about the targeted instruction you received in finance and insurance that helped direct your career path.
Prior to my MBA, I was unversed with certain aspects of finance, which would inevitably surface in my field given that all hazardous risks eventually lead to financial repercussions. Therefore, I selected a concentration in Business Finance to better understand how to identify, analyze, and manage risk from a management perspective, shareholder perspective, and customer perspective. I became much more fluent in communicating risk in financial terms to various stakeholders, which opened up new opportunities for me in my industry. Having that fundamental understanding of corporate finance and enterprise valuation greatly contributed to my ability to structure our insurance program to optimize our risk profile.
How did earning an MBA advance your career?
I was recently promoted to Chief Risk Officer of BWX Technologies after a major corporate restructuring. In my new role I will lead our company’s efforts to develop and maintain an Enterprise Risk Management program while continuing to direct all aspects of corporate insurance and risk financing operations. There’s no doubt I would not have been given this opportunity at this stage in my career without the knowledge and experience of an MBA.
What kinds of organizations, both professional and charitable, are you involved with?
Having been active in the risk and insurance industry for 8 years now, I am involved with several industry groups including Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (or CPCU) and Society and Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS). I’m also a member of the National Eagle Scout Association and strong supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project and related veterans’ charities.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
I would recommend that students live in the moment, buy into the process, and make the most out of the experience. It truly enhanced my own learning and MBA experience to actively seek out ways to incorporate the classroom lessons into my job, and I would strongly encourage students to seek out such opportunities in their own careers or other aspects of life.