Kay Griese - former Chief Underwriting Officer
Interview with a contemporary witness

From when to when did you work for Delvag and what activities and tasks did you carry out during this time?

I worked for Delvag from 1990 to 2020, so 30 years. I started out as an acquirer in the marine insurance team and ended up as head of the "Aviation and Marine Insurance" division.

What did your career path look like? 

A typical "chimney career". I studied at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and graduated in business administration and then ended up at Delvag by chance. I first did an internship here, then went to New York for three semesters abroad and worked there for the former "Gerling" insurance group. When I returned a book to a colleague at Delvag after my studies, I was offered a job here, which I accepted.

Kay Griese

Do you remember your first project at Delvag?

My first big project was the "screwworm fly project". These flies are a major problem because they are parasites that infest animals, which often die as a result. 

The fly species was widespread in various countries, including Libya. The "sterile insect technique" was supposed to provide a remedy: Screwworm flies were bred in a laboratory in Mexico and sterilized with gamma rays. They were then transported from Mexico to Libya in 20 small planes and dropped over the affected area. The aim was to reduce the fly population in Libya and prevent its spread south of the Sahara.

German Cargo (Lufthansa Cargo's predecessor) took part in a tender at the time and was supported by Delvag. I went to Rome to represent Delvag in the negotiations for the project. Apart from us, three other providers were represented there. However, our offer was very well received by the customer and I was already confident during the talks that we would be awarded the contract and win the tender. And that's what happened in the end. 

Were there any other special insurance cases? 

There were a few: The transportation of dolphins from Florida to Lisbon, the insurance of a tuna farm, tropical aquarium fish in Nigeria, cigars in Cuba, diamonds in Tel Aviv. Such topics were a regular occurrence at the time due to the Lufthansa Group's global origins. Even today, there are still many interesting insurance cases in the transportation sector and many new ones have been added.

That sounds varied. What did you find special about your job? 

Special were the great colleagues worldwide. I had the opportunity to travel internationally over many years, to do business everywhere for Delvag and to get to know different cultures and circumstances. 

We had many memorable experiences while traveling. In São Paulo, for example, I was mugged together with the Management Board. But we got off lightly. And first and foremost, the time was extremely varied, the work was a lot of fun and you could act very freely. I thought that was great.

What were your biggest challenges at Delvag and how did you overcome them?

We were often like a speedboat: fast and flexible out of Cologne. The biggest challenge was the large insurers with their volume and capacity. We therefore specialised in niches. Working for a specialist insurer is very varied and there is no other insurer that was as international as Delvag at the time. So it was never boring, everyone had their responsibilities. That's what makes Delvag so special.

What advice would you give to young colleagues? 

In the end, you have to discover for yourself whether you enjoy working in this field. You have to leave your comfort zone, take responsibility for new projects on your own initiative and try things out together with a mentor who accompanies you. You should also get out there and not be afraid to make mistakes. Because in the end, everyone is only cooking with water.

Would you like to wish Delvag a happy 100th anniversary? 

I would like to congratulate Delvag on this long and extraordinary journey, which is unique, and wish it many more successful decades.  

I would like to thank you for the outstanding time with outstanding colleagues. It is something special to spend your entire career with one company. You can be grateful for that. 

Thank you very much Mr. Griese for your time and the interview.


The interview was held by Tamara Gmelin, Corporate Communications.