At Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., we have a strong partnership with UWaterloo Athletics through our sponsorship of the Fairfax Financial Academic All-Canadian Awards, which recognize the potential in academically successful student-athletes. Former varsity athletes at Fairfax, including Actuarial Analyst Olivier Quesnel, are driven individuals who have excelled at our company. As a student at the University of Waterloo, Olivier fuelled his passion for basketball with the Waterloo Warriors, playing with the team for five years while studying Actuarial Science.
While on his way to becoming the team captain, an opportunity made its way into Olivier’s path that he would never have seen coming. During a regular game one winter evening in 2006, he used his leadership skills to bring the team to victory. Little did he know his future boss was watching!
Prem Watsa, Fairfax’s President and CEO, was in the stands, watching his nephew Mano Watsa, who was coaching the women’s team at the time.
“Prem noticed that I studied Actuarial Science,” Olivier said. “He noticed I was working hard and showed leadership and he told Mano, ‘that’s someone we want on our team!’”
The hard work he devoted to the team transferred well to his career as an actuarial analyst with Fairfax, Olivier added. “When playing on a team, we all have the same goals and we all work together in order to achieve those goals,” he said. “Work environments are very similar in that everyone has to do their part, however big or small, to get to the desired endpoint.”
After four years at Fairfax’s head office in Toronto, Olivier moved to London, England to work for Fairfax’s reinsurance subsidiary OdysseyRe. Olivier made a smooth transition from university to the working world and he says being a student athlete helped him attain additional skills outside the classroom.
“Teamwork, commitment and hard work are so important,” he said. “And valuing the team mentality. It’s not just about your benefit but the benefit of everybody.”
Now six years into his career, Olivier says he loves what he does and can’t imagine being anywhere else but Fairfax.“Property and casualty insurance is so closely related to real life. Everybody needs insurance — whether it’s a taxi driver or a multinational corporation. You can find a niche that suits your interests,” he said. “Fairfax is a great company to work for. They really appreciate people and give them the opportunity to grow.